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ONE STEP CLOSER: Chris Cotton

ONE STEP CLOSER:  Chris Cotton

Fresno Grizzlies / Houston Astros (Class AAA)

31-Cotton-ChrisMequon, WI – Heading into the 2016 baseball season, former Lakeshore Chinook and LSU pitcher Chris Cotton has gone where no other Chinook has gone.  On September 5 in 2015, Cotton who played during the Chinooks’ opening season in 2012 became the first former Chinook to reach AAA baseball as the Houston Astros (407th overall pick in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Draft) promoted him to finish the season with the Fresno Grizzlies of the Pacific Coast League.  Cotton earned the late-season promotion after posting a 1.40 ERA in 25.2 innings in High A with the Lancaster JetHawks followed by a 3.05 ERA in 41.1 innings with the AA Corpus Christi Hooks.

Cotton’s success can be attributed to his bulldog mentality and willingness to compete that began as a youngster.  Despite getting no Division I offers coming out of high school, Cotton fought his way onto the LSU roster as a walk-onCotton.IMG_1291 and earned a degree in International Trade and Finance.  As he developed for the Tigers, he earned a nickname as “The Sheriff” by shutting down opposing hitters during LSU’s run to the 2013 run to the College World Series and as an undersized lefty in the mold of Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux.  With pitch speeds maxing out at 92, Cotton has learned how to change speeds and locate his pitches saying, “You just have to be yourself, be comfortable with who you are.  I know who I am, and who I'm not. I stay in my role.  I change speeds, hit my spots, and stay ahead.  If I do that, I can be successful."

As a professional for three seasons, Cotton holds an 8-9 record with a 2.95 ERA and has recorded 12 saves with 143 strikeouts in 91 appearances.  With the hope of beginning the season back in Fresno, Cotton holds the early lead in the race to become Lakeshore’s first major leaguer, and as he prepares for a critical spring training provided these comments for Chinook fans:

Cotton and his Chinook Host Mom, Linda Walter, at 2015 Astro's Spring Training1.  Seeing as it is the offseason, the next step for me is to rest mentally and physically from baseball. Right now I'm working out and getting back in shape down in Baton Rouge, preparing my body for the next season.

2.  My best personal minor league moment is when my parents are able to drive however far they do to come watch my pitch. It's an even better moment if I do well.

3.  Most fun promotions are the ones with the human sized bubbles people can get in and run into each other. Not sure the name of those contraptions but I'll tell you it is fun to watch.  Some type of dizzy bat obstacle is always entertaining as well. It's a classic and you never know what you'll get.

4.  Most difficult part of minor leagues has to be the travel, the length of the season, and the uncertainty. Some bus trips can be as long as 14 hours.  Once you get to triple A, the team takes flights and those aren't that much better.  Waking up at 3 am to make a 5 am flight to play that day isn't the most ideal situation. The uncertainty comes with not knowing if you'll move up, or down, or stay where you are.  The living situations are very unstable and you’re constantly on the move.  But with that being said I enjoy it and make the most out of everything.  It's a long season, but sure beats a 9-5 right now.

See what the 2016 season has in store for the crafty lefty by following him at:

http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?sid=milb&player_id=641484#/career/R/pitching/2014/ALL

The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 22-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 140 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (KC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com.