The Gophers weren't sure they were going to get one of their biggest leaders back for this season.
Multiple outlets projected senior Micah Coffey as a possible late-round draft pick in the 2017 MLB Draft after three seasons of playing infield for the Gophers, and being named All-Big Ten Second Team two years in a row. Coffey, however, didn’t hear his name called by the end of the draft. He comes back to college this season, after he batted .340 in 2017.
“He's always taken an interest [in] others and cared about the team first,” said head coach John Anderson. “[He] has tried to help us set our culture and make sure we maintain a certain standard of expectation that everybody has to meet here.”
The Gophers only lost one junior, pitcher Lucas Gilbreath, to the MLB draft. Gilbreath was chosen by the Rockies organization. Senior Brian Glowicki was also drafted, but the team would have lost him to graduation anyway.
The Gophers have not had captains for around 25 years, but Coffey is still a leader on the team.
Freshman Max Meyer, who pitches and is a designated hitter for the Gophers, named Coffey when talking about who he views as the captain of the team.
"He's pretty much the captain," Meyer said. "He's a great leader, he helps all the freshmen out and all the younger guys, whatever they need. It's just awesome to have a guy like that I think."
Coffey's goal for his final season with Minnesota is to make it to the NCAA tournament.
“A huge goal of this team is postseason play.” Coffey said. “It was really frustrating to feel like we had control of our own destiny last year and kind of watched it go right in front of our eyes.”
Minnesota narrowly missed out on a playoff berth after losing in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament late last year. If they had won the last two games, an NCAA tournament would have been almost certain as they were ranked 67th in RPI, and 64 teams made the playoffs.
“Definitely motivation to know that we were that close, and weren't able to see the NCAA tournament,” Coffey said.
Coffey's first weekend of the 2018 season wasn't stellar at the plate, as he had two hits on 18 at-bats. He has another opportunity this weekend as the Gophers head to Florida for three regular season games and a scrimmage against the Minnesota Twins.
The Gophers last scrimmaged the Twins in 2015 when Coffey and the other seniors were freshmen. For many of the players — who have been fans of the Twins since early in life — the opportunity to play against them is a dream come true.
"I mean, you're like a big leaguer for a day," Coffey said. "I remember sitting on the flight home that night, and I was like, 'did that really happen?' And so I've been looking forward to this date ever since."
After the Twins scrimmage Thursday, the Gophers (2-2) will stay in Florida for games against Boston College, Chicago State and Mount St. Mary's.