Cousino shows Sox he’s not just speed and defense

EVERETT — Austin Cousino doesn’t have the reputation of being a power hitter. Nevertheless, he managed to punctuate his professional debut in a big way.

The Everett AquaSox outfielder marked his first game as a pro Monday by belting a home run in Everett’s 7-3 loss to the Hillsboro Hops at Everett Memorial Stadium.

Cousino, the Seattle Mariners’ third-round pick in this year’s amateur draft out of the University of Kentucky, was selected largely based on his speed and his defense in center field. In his three years at Kentucky he was 48-for-51 as a base stealer and a three-time member of the SEC All-Defensive Team. In contrast, home runs were far more rare, as he hit just four in 61 games this spring— though the scouting reports suggested he had surprising pop for a player of his size (5-foot-10, 185 pounds).

Therefore, homering in his first professional game wasn’t on Cousino’s mind.

“I just try to go up there and put a good swing on the ball every time up and try to find barrel,” Cousino said. “When you’re first adjusting to these wood bats you’re not trying to do too much with it because when you do you’re going to get in trouble. I just go up there and look for a good pitch to hit, and when that happens good things happen.”

That good thing happened in Cousino’s second at bat. During his first at bat Cousino belted a ball that would have been a homer, but it drifted just foul down the right-field line, and he ended up striking out. But his next time up Cousino turned on the first pitch he saw, a low changeup, and this time it stayed fair as it just dropped into the homer porch in right.

“I hit that first one foul and I was thinking it would have been cool if I could have got it around,” Cousino said. “Then I did the second time up. It was nice to get that first one out of the way, so now I can play ball from here on out.”

“When I hit it I thought (it was out), but then I saw the right fielder going after it I wasn’t so sure,” Cousino added. “It got out just enough so I could jog around.”

Cousino is the highest draft pick currently on Everett’s roster, and he was happy not only with his debut performance, but to be getting his pro career started.

“It went well,” Cousino said. “It’s just nice to get out there and play ball again, getting my feet wet here in pro ball and using the wood bat. It was an exciting day, I got some texts and calls from back home, which was nice. It was fun.

“There was the draft and that process, but once you’re with a team it’s go time, it doesn’t matter about any of things that came before,” Cousino added. “I’m happy to be with the Mariners and I’m happy to get this thing started.”

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