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Kansas State’s Kokoska drafted by Colorado

The power-hitting outfielder became the third Wildcat taken in the first three rounds.

NCAA Baseball: Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship
Kokoska got to go for extra bases a lot during his outstanding 2021 season.
Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State’s Zach Kokoska found the perfect landing spot for one of the Big 12’s best power hitters in the 10th round of Monday’s MLB draft.

After hitting 15 home runs in his second junior season, the left-handed hitting outfielder was taken 290th overall by the Colorado Rockies, joining pitchers Jordan Wicks and Carson Seymour as the third Wildcat to hear his name called. It’s the first time K-State’s had three players selected in the first 10 rounds since 2011, when four Wildcats were taken.

Coors Field may be the best park in the big leagues for home run hitters, and Kokoska will get to keep wearing purple. He’s been training in south Florida since late June and has earned significant praise from coaches for his work ethic, which translated to constant improvement throughout his career.

A Pennsylvania native, Kokoska spent his freshman season at Virginia Tech before an injury essentially cost him his playing time and led to the decision to transfer to Kansas State. We’re sure glad he did.

He got a waiver to become immediately eligible and hit a team-best .338 in Big 12 play as a sophomore and showed some power with eight home runs for the season, slugging .522. He even threw a couple innings, including a perfect one against San Diego State.

Kokoska played in the prestigious Cape Cod League in 2020, helping the Orleans Firebirds win the East Division. By the time 2020 rolled around, had named Kokoska the No. 71 outfielder in the country.

He validated that ranking and then some during the Covid-shortened season, hitting .349/.446/.540 in 17 games. Kokoska ended the season on a 16-game on-base streak and homered in the last game before the sports world shut down.

That summer, Kokoska kept smashing baseballs and posted a .423/.500/.538 slash line for the Phipps Park Barracudas of the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League. He also .315/.384/.405 in 25 games for the Northwoods League’s Mankato Moondogs.

The best was yet to come when Kokoska returned to Manhattan. Following a slow 2 for 17 start, he reached base in 41 straight games, including 20 multi-hit performances and 13 home runs. Kokoska ended up slashing .363/.445/.675 with a team-best 19 doubles while starting all 57 games.

He hit .421 with three doubles and a homer in the Big 12 tournament to make the All-Tournament team, one of several postseason honors for the Second Team All-Big 12 selection. Like Wicks, Kokoska also excelled in the classroom throughout his career, even posting a perfect 4.0 GPA as a junior to pick up the first of two Academic All-Big 12 first team honors.

If Kokoska skips Rookie ball in Arizona, he would probably go to either Low A Fresno or High A Spokane. The Rockies’ Double A affiliate plays in Hartford, Conn., and of course their Triple A affiliate is The Simpsons-inspired Albuquerque Isotopes.