The Ducks' already solid bullpen got even stronger when they inked David Kopp on May 30. The righthander, who spent the first seven years of his career in the Cardinals' and Tigers' systems, went 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA and eight strikeouts in his first seven appearances (91/3 innings) with the Ducks.
Before being chosen by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2007 draft, Kopp pitched in the 2006 College World Series while at Clemson. In three college seasons, he went 16-8 with a 4.16 ERA.
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Kopp said he made the full-time transition to the bullpen three years ago while with the Cardinals' organization after having nerve surgery on his elbow.
The Florida native reached Triple-A twice while with St. Louis. He spent both his seasons with Detroit at Double-A Erie of the Eastern League. In seven affiliated seasons, Kopp went 26-27 with a 4.59 ERA.
Kopp played winter ball in Puerto Rico after last season, but despite throwing for the Mets and Red Sox before spring training, did not sign with a major league club in 2014.
Along with teammate Brett Lorin, Kopp played for Team Israel during the 2012 World Baseball Classic qualifiers. The team was managed by current Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.
The team had a hot June. Despite dropping five of your last seven, you still went 17-13. What has your impressions of the club been during your first month here?
I bring all the good luck (laughs). I had heard from multiple people that the competition in this league is really good. Not just this team, but others, too. Guys are trying to get back into affiliated [baseball]. Everybody works hard, has good stuff and are tough outs, but especially this team. I think the chemistry here is really good. We've been winning, for the most part, for the last three weeks and trying to make a run for the playoffs. Unfortunately, Somerset did the same thing.
What have you done well on the mound?
I've just done my best to go in and throw strikes. I know I can't go in there and give free passes. I go in, attack the zone, repeat my mechanics, keep the ball down and get outs.
Entering this week, you were averaging just under one strikeout per inning. Have you always had good strikeout numbers?
No. But, when I made the transition to the bullpen, there was more of a sense of 'looking for the strikeout.' It's a 'max-effort' kind of deal. You might go in, face one or two hitters, there might be a guy on first and second, and you might need to get a strikeout in that situation. A starter is working on pitch counts . . . But I don't pay attention to that kind of stuff. I just try to pitch to the best of my ability and let the chips fall where they may.
What do you foresee for the second half (which begins Monday) for this team?
We'll keep winning. You have to keep the same mentality and effort level. You go ballgame-by-ballgame and keep trying to win every game until you get to the playoffs.
What was it like playing for Ausmus as part of Team Israel?
When he got the Tigers' job, I sent him an email congratulating him. We were only there for two weeks, so it's hard to get to know someone. But for that period, you do kind of get a gist of the leadership he provides and the type of person that he is. I can't say anything but the best about him. I know he's going to do great with the Tigers moving forward.