San Antonio – St. Mary’s catcher M.P. Cokinos was casually chatting with his brother Wednesday afternoon when his cell phone rang.
“The (Houston Astros) organization called me,” said Cokinos, his voice bubbling with pride. “They told me to turn on the computer.”
What Cokinos then saw was something he has been dreaming about his whole life.
The junior Daktronics All-America selection was chosen by the Astros with the first pick of the 31st round (939th overall pick) of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft – news Cokinos learned while watching the draft’s online telecast.
“This has been my dream,” said Cokinos, who starred for St. Mary’s as a junior this past season after transferring from the University of Houston. “None of this could have happened without all the coaches – Coach (Charlie) Migl, Coach (Chris) Ermis, Coach (Ryan) Femath, Coach (Carlos) Guevara – and all my teammates.
“I couldn’t have done it without everybody in the whole Rattlers family.”
Cokinos (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) will likely soon be representing the Rattler family by trying to work his way up the Astros’ organization, hinting he is leaning toward forgoing his final year of collegiate eligibility.
“I really would like to pursue a professional career,” said Cokinos, whose selection marked the third straight year a Rattler was drafted. Pitcher Greg Herbst was chosen by Philadelphia in the 32nd round last year and catcher Ryan Morrow was selected in the 44th round of the 2010 draft.
Cokinos was a hit at St. Mary’s from the moment he arrived, homering in each of his first two swings of the bat as a Rattler after transferring from the University of Houston, where he made the Conference USA All-Freshman Team two years ago.
He finished this past season batting .333 with 55 RBIs and eight home runs, helping drive the team’s run to the NCAA Division II College World Series. Along the way, he was named Third-Team All-America, First-Team All-South Central Region, and First-Team Heartland Conference.
But Cokinos never wanted any of it to be about him.
Gracious from the day he first stepped foot on campus, the right-hander helped craft a special locker-room environment at St. Mary’s. Cokinos seemingly never met a person he didn’t enjoy talking to – an observation even opposing broadcasters would mention on air after Cokinos would chat with them at length prior to games.
“That’s just who I am,” Cokinos said, “but it’s important to know everyone here did that exact same thing for me. I’d also say that’s why we had the success we had this year. That’s what it takes.
“But the No. 1 leader of the team is the coaches. I did exactly what the coaches did for me.”
Migl couldn’t be any happier for his star pupil.
“I’ll tell you what,” Migl said, “M.P. was a good fit for our team. He’s a leader and he got along with everybody. He was a good teammate to the guys. I’m real excited for him. I know this is what he wanted. His work ethic was so good.
“I’m hoping to see him in the big leagues one day.”
For Cokinos, that’s been the dream all along.
“As a kid growing up in Houston, I was dreaming about being a professional baseball player,” Cokinos said. “I was always wearing an Astros uniform. I’m just glad I get a couple more years of baseball and get to go to the next level. It’s what I’ve dreamed of doing.”
Still, even with his own personal spotlight shining brighter than ever before, Cokinos wanted to make sure his selection into Major League Baseball was about the entire St. Mary’s family.
“Shoot, I’ll remember this year for the rest of my life,” he said. “I couldn’t be anymore thankful. I’m a Rattler until the day I die.”