From Rhode Island to Arizona to Indiana: Meet San Diego Padres minor leaguer Addison Kopack

A talk with San Diego Padres minor leaguer Addison Kopack on his early journey in the organization
Baltimore Orioles v San Diego Padres
Baltimore Orioles v San Diego Padres / Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages
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Lost in the excitement of the pennant races, summer vacations and working on that perfect tan was the restocking of a new pipeline for Major League Baseball organizations. The July draft came and went amidst the excitement of the All-Star break. The Padres used their first pick of the draft on a high school outfielder from Illinois and drafted 20 players total. Once the draft ended, as organizations do, San Diego scrambled to sign undrafted free agents, eight in total. With their farm system freshly restocked, the time to evaluate the newbies has begun as the big league club struggles to claw its way into the post-season picture.

One of those post-draft free agent signings by the San Diego Padres organization is a bit of a throwback player. He's listed as a C/2B/SS, but has played every position in the field over the past few years. He's even logged a handful of innings on the mound. Who is he, where did he come from and what positions will he be playing? It's time to meet Addison Kopack.

Meet San Diego Padres minor league Addison Kopack

Compared to the Padres first round pick, 22-year-old Addison Kopack could be seen as a bit of an "old guy." Then again, when you're only 18, anyone of legal drinking age seem "old." Not only does Addison Kopack have a few years under his belt compared to a number of newly drafted players by San Diego, but he also has an attitude and style of play that's a bit of a throwback to yesteryear.

Addison Kopack couldn't have come from much further away to San Diego. Born and raised in Rhode Island, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder went on to play at the University of Rhode Island where he defined the term "utility player," a term he embraces.

"I take a great sense of pride in being listed as 'utility,'" Kopack said. "I think it's dying in today's game as people just are playing one position their entire life, and it's not so often that kids or young adults take to coaches asking them to play another position in a positive light. For me, however, It was always the coach asking me to play another position to give the team the best chance of winning possible, and that's something that I would never say no to."

In his three seasons at Rhode Island, Kopack logged innings at every position, even taking the mound for a handful of frames. His versatility and exceptional performance at the plate, especially in the 2022 season where hit hit .430 with a 1.450 OPS in Atlantic 10 Conference play, are what caught the eye of the Padres local area scout.

After being scouted throughout the 2022 and 2023 season at Rhody, Kopack was invited down to a Padres pre-draft workout at the University of Delaware and that's where Kopack felt he may have made a pretty solid impression, "to my belief, (I) turned some heads!" As is the case with many of the top college athletes these days, the Ocean State slugger had to make a decision on his career. As a redshirt junior Kopack, had another year of NCAA eligibility left and could have returned to campus for the 2024 season, but he knew it was time to make the leap.

The possibility of remaining another year or transferring somewhere else was a possibility," he said. "However, I think I had my mind set from the beginning of the year that If I got an opportunity to turn pro, I was going to take it".

With the scouts having eyes on him since 2022 and feeling good about his pre-draft workout for San Diego, it was time for the draft. The excitement and anxiety of potentially being drafted could be overbearing for some but, to put it in Southern California terms, Kopack had good vibes from the Padres and was feeling good about his prospects of going somewhere, especially to San Diego.

"So the draft day came and during the later rounds my agent contacted me saying the Padres wanted to sign me to a free agent deal, and I jumped on the opportunity," Kopack recalled. "There were some other teams interested but everyone around me including me thought the Padres were a great fit."

Now a member of a Major League Baseball organization, Addison Kopack is living the most American of American dreams. The little kid from Cumberland (R.I.) is now a pro ball player and loving the start of his new job.

"I am most definitely living the dream," Kopack said. "Having the opportunity to write down 'professional baseball player' as my job title is pretty surreal. On top of that, having my sole focus in my days being baseball ... and playing a game ... what can be better than that?"

Kopack was in Phoenix playing for the Padres in the Arizona Complex League, his first stop as a pro ball player. The move from Rhode Island to Arizona has certainly been a culture shock, especially the weather.

"The heat is different around here ! I've adjusted to it so far but the beginning was brutal. Definitely missing the northeast ocean breeze and the cool 75 degrees," Kopack said.

Kopack credits his A-10 career and Northeast spring conditions with aiding in his adjustment out west.

"The biggest thing that prepared me at URI is the grit and work ethic I gained from attending the University," he said. "We weren't afforded the same luxuries as a lot of other Division 1 programs and atop of that, playing Northeast baseball can be brutal. Long cold days outside and uncomfortable conditions really allows me to withstand this minor league grind I think a lot better than a lot of people. On top of that, our coaching staff always put together a tremendous schedule, playing the top competition across the country, so despite being a mid-major Northeastern school, I was still able to compete against the top talent every year."

Fortunately for Kopack, adjusting to the heat has been more of a challenge than settling in to his new job and believes the Arizona Complex League will set him up for success.

"I already feel myself developing at a rapid pace. The resources and coaching is tremendous and every day you are given the opportunity to grow as a player, something I plan to take full advantage of," he said. "They constantly preach taking ownership of your own career."

The former Rhody Ram is taking his years of dedication to the game and old school attitude and work ethic to the field every day with a youthful excitement required to handle the day-in and day-out grind of being a professional athlete, saying, "I go in every morning with a smile on my face looking forwards to the grind of the day, hitting, fielding, catching, anything!"

Not only has Kopack favorably adjusted to his new life in Arizona, but this utility player is loving the role the Padres have put him in.

"My favorite position is catcher, a combination of all the unique skills in the position and just how hard it is, and the Padres are strictly placing me there," he explained.

For now, it seems the Padres will keep Kopack behind the plate, but does he see himself building on the six innings he logged on the mound for Rhody any time soon? "I think I will have to save that (pitching) for the Sunday leagues later In life," he chuckled.

The one constant in Addison Kopack is his dedication to the work and the grind. Seeing the progress and moving forward towards a goal is a mantra he'd pass on to all those younger players out there looking to land in the same position he's in now.

"I would say fall in love with the journey, not the results," he said. "I think if you love every moment of the process ... working out, hitting off the tee, taking grounders, just putting in work towards your overall goal, the results will come."

As Addison Kopack begins his journey as a professional baseball player, taking the hope and dreams of everyone back in Rhode Island along with him, he took one last moment to contemplate the question of the summer, Barbie or Oppenheimer?

"I haven't seen Barbie yet but I'm planning on it, but I loved Oppenheimer," he said. "I would consider myself kind of a science dork so it was pretty cool to have another great science/drama movie put out."

From the looks of Kopack's new life, Barbie may have to wait until the offseason.

Editor's Note: According to his transaction log, Kopack was assigned to High-A Fort Wayne on August 21.

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