Pair of H-F grads drafted into Major League Baseball

South Suburban baseball fans will see a couple of familiar faces in the professional ranks soon after a pair of Homewood-Flossmoor High school players were picked in the early rounds of this week’s Major League Baseball draft.

Outfielder and recent H-F graduate Dillon Head was picked 25th overall by the San Diego Padres.

Pitcher Isaiah Coupet, a member of the Vikings’ class of 2020, was drafted in the fourth round by the Colorado Rockies. 

“I’ve played baseball my whole life and this was always the dream,” Coupet said. “As far back as I can remember playing baseball, like eight or nine years old, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. This has always been the dream.”

The southpaw spent the last three years at Ohio State. He struck out 72 over 50.2 innings this spring, allowing 41 hits and walking only 16. He said he won’t be going back to Columbus. 

Coupet watched the draft in his living room in Flossmoor.

“It was an incredible moment, dreams coming true,” he said. “It was one of the best moments of all time. I’m glad I got to spend it with my family.” 

According to Baseball Reference, Head is the first H-F player to be picked on the draft’s first day. The Clemson commit batted .484 during his senior season with the Vikings, hitting six home runs and stealing 31 bases. He was the No. 1 ranked player in Illinois and a high school All American. 

Homewood-Flossmoor’s previous draft benchmark was pitcher John Ely, who was picked by the White Sox in the third round in 2007. Dan Lietz, who pitched in the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays organizations, was drafted in the fifth round in 2013. Malcolm Grady was picked by the Phillies in the 37th round in 2015. Eric Hillman threw for New York Mets minor league affiliates after that team picked him in the 16th round in 1987. 

Coupet will not be the only H-F pitcher in the pro ranks. Tyler Schlaffer, a hurler still in the Chicago Cubs system, was drafted in the ninth round in 2019. 

A hamstring injury this season at Ohio State put a slight damper on Coupet’s season, though. He thinks he may have been picked even earlier had he been playing at 100% of his ability this spring.

“I’m fully healthy now,” he said. “(The injury) didn’t help me at all. It took me down a couple (rungs). In the grand scheme of things, it won’t hurt much. I only missed three starts.” 

The time spent at Ohio State was vital to his development, Coupet said. The Buckeyes coaching staff transformed him from a kid with arm talent into a pitcher.

“Freshman year, I was just up there throwing. I didn’t set up hitters, didn’t know what I was really trying to do,” he said. “Now, I attack hitters with a plan. I know my strengths and weaknesses.”

Coupet said he talked to the Rockies a few times before the draft but had no indication they’d be picking him. He worked out for seven teams, but not Colorado. He did meet with them during the draft combine, though, and said that conversation went well. 

Scouting reports tout Coupet’s breaking and offspeed stuff as strengths. It never hurts a pitcher to throw from the left side, either.

If there’s an area that he needs to improve to make it to “the show,” Coupet said it’s his velocity. To that end, he’s working on getting stronger. 

A starter for virtually his whole life, he said he’d be willing to come out of the bullpen if it meant a chance to pitch in Coors Field. 

“I haven’t talked to anybody about my role at the next level but I’m there to pitch,” Coupet said. “I’m open to anything as long as I get the opportunity to play.” 

That’s an opportunity that he won’t take for granted. Coupet has advice for the kids on the diamonds in Homewood and Flossmoor who hope to be in his cleats some day. 

“Just keep going. It’s possible. Being from the South Suburbs, you don’t hear about many baseball players but it’s possible,” he said. “Stay true and just do the hard work. You can’t get around the hard work.” 

Head did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

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