There was no draft day party with throngs of family, friends and high school teammates. No balloons and champagne. No television cameras and hordes of reporters.
"Actually the Internet was down at my house so my Dad and I went down to his office and kept up with the draft there," laughed Cobb.
The now-20-year-old right-hander was fresh off a successful career at
Thus, professional scouts began to take notice.
During the spring, Cobb was in frequent contact with the
"Until draft day, I had doubts," remembers Cobb, who the Rays selected with the 109th overall pick in 2006. "Until my first workout with the Rays I still had doubts. A college recruiter told me I'd be drafted pretty high. Through the process I'd been telling scouts I'd only go if I was picked in the top three rounds. Otherwise, I was going to Clemson. Then it turned out I went in the fourth round, but got third-round money."
Although he never pictured himself taking the mound for the Dodgers, Cobb took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the game. New York Mets' first baseman Carlos Delgado was his mentor during those formative baseball years. "We would talk every day. I'd ask him questions about the pitchers and what made them so successful," said Cobb.
Once an agreement with
After getting his feet wet as a pro, Cobb embarked upon his first full season with the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New York Penn League in 2007. He remembers his time in upstate
Cobb got off to an excellent start to the season, but struggled at times down the stretch. He finished the year with a 5-6 record, registering an ERA of 3.54 in 81.1 innings over 16 appearances.
This season, though, Cobb has been a model of consistency with the Catfish, last year's South Atlantic League Champions. As the season approaches the halfway mark, the club is struggling to maintain its championship-level performance from 2007, but Cobb, who has justified his manager's decision to hand him the ball on opening day, has been a force at the top of the Columbus starting rotation.
"It was great to be told that," said Cobb on getting the nod to start the season opener. "I was the opening night starter last season and was all jitters. Cal Ripken, Jr. was there to throw out the first pitch in front of 8,000 fans. I learned from it, though, and this year was really focused."
Cobb's current numbers confirm his ability to consistently command his pitches. Through 11 starts overall, the Catfish ace is 6-3 with a 2.13 ERA in 11 games started while limiting opponents to a .211 batting average against. Perhaps equally impressive is his 45-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 63.1 innings pitched and 1.03 WHIP, which ranks among the best in the Sally League. Cobb, who has worked no less than five innings in all of his outings, has allowed an earned run or less on seven different occasions.
Flirting with a no-hitter last week against the Asheville Tourists was one of Cobb's first-half highlights. In that start on May 27 in
Since no-hitters are rare, especially this early in the season, it's possible Catfish manager Matt Quatraro and pitching coach Bill Maloney would have allowed Cobb to exceed the 90-pitch limit. The decision would have been based on not just his pitch total, but how Cobb arrived at that number.
Consistency was Cobb's goal coming into his first long season as a pro. At
"My goal coming in was consistency. To this point I've been able to do it. As a team, it's the most sought-after skill in all of sports."
The Catfish are mired in a long losing streak, having suffered 10 straight defeats dating back to May 22. Cobb feels the team's pressure but has evaded it when taking the hill. "You can feel the pressure if you let it. It's one of the developmental stages that we go through not to let it affect how you go about your job. You can only control what you can."
Update: Cobb on Monday was elected to the South Atlantic League All-Star team, joining two of his Catfish teammates, outfielders Maiko Loyola and Emeel Salem.