The St. Louis Cardinals selected left-handed starting pitcher Cooper Hjerpe (pronounced JER-pee) out of Oregon State University with their first-round selection (22nd overall) in the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft.
Hjerpe, a Capay, California native, pitched three seasons at Oregon State going 15-9 with a 3.37 ERA (192.1 IP/72 ER), 275 strikeouts, and 57 walks in 41 career games (33 starts).
“Cooper possesses a tremendous set of weapons in his pitching arsenal that we are ecstatic about adding to our system,” said Cardinals Assistant General Manager and Director of Scouting Randy Flores. “He has a unique look that can make opposing hitters uncomfortable as evidenced by his high strikeout totals and elite whiff rates. Based on his three-year track record at Oregon State, our scouting department hopes that he can rise quickly through our system once we connect him with our player development staff.”
After making six relief appearances as a true freshman in 2020 before the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he transitioned to a full-time starter in 2021 pitching in 17 games (16 starts) with a 3-6 record, 4.21 ERA and striking out 98 batters in 77.0 innings pitched.
The 6’3”, 200-pound Hjerpe entered the 2022 season as the Beavers number one starter and finished his sophomore year 11-2 across 18 games, with a 2.53 ERA (103.1 IP/29 ER) and a NCAA Division I-leading 161 strikeouts with only 23 walks, becoming the single-season strikeout leader in school history. His finest performance came in an April 1 start against Stanford when he struck out a career-best 17 batters and allowed just two hits across 8.0 scoreless innings, tying the school-record for punchouts. The All-Pac-12 First Team selection struck out at least nine hitters in 11 of his 17 starts, averaging 14.02 strikeouts per nine innings, second-best among all Division I pitchers. Hjerpe’s 11 victories also were tied for second-most among Division I players in 2022.
For his outstanding efforts, Hjerpe was named the 2022 National Pitcher of the Year by the College Baseball Foundation. He was also selected as a First-Team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA). He was also a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy.
Hjerpe attended Woodland High School in Woodland, California, northwest of Sacramento, which counts Dustin Pedroia as a notable alum. During his senior year in 2019, he tallied 105 strikeouts in 44 innings and had a stretch of three consecutive starts with a no-hitter and four total.
Hjerpe is the first Oregon State player selected in the first round since catcher Adley Rutschman went first overall to the Baltimore Orioles in 2019 and the first Beavers player (11th overall) to be selected by the Cardinals since right-handed pitcher Dylan Pearce in the 31st round of the 2019 draft.
The 21-year-old is the second southpaw to be selected by St. Louis in the first round of the MLB draft since 2014, joining Kentucky’s Zack Thompson (19th overall pick) in 2019. The Cardinals have taken a collegiate pitcher with their first pick in three of the last four years.
Hjerpe is the fourth 22nd overall selection for the Cardinals since 1965, joining second baseman Kolten Wong (2011), Brian Barber (1991) and John Ericks (1988). Other notable recent first round picks for St. Louis include organization top prospect and third baseman Jordan Walker (2020, 21st overall), third baseman Nolan Gorman (2018, 19th overall), outfielder Dylan Carlson (2016, 33rd overall), right-handed pitcher Dakota Hudson (2016, 34th overall) and right-handed pitcher Jack Flaherty (2014, 34th overall).
The team’s highest overall selection was right-handed pitcher Braden Looper (3rd overall) in 1996. The Cardinals have had only 11 top-ten selections, the most recent being outfielder J.D. Drew (5th overall) in 1998.
The 2022 MLB Draft continues tomorrow with rounds 3-10, beginning at 1:00 PM CT, and concludes with rounds 11-20 on Tuesday, July 19, starting at 1:00 PM CT.