I’m going to be honest, I didn’t know who Franchy Cordero was until FanGraphs released their Top 100 KATOH projections list. At the time, I was in the middle of a draft for a league with a prospect pool around 400 players. If anyone has been in a league that deep, you’re really just searching for a player with sliver of hope to make the big leagues, let alone be a regular. KATOH pegged him at a generous 41, right above Mike Soroka. In a deep Padres farm system it’s easy to overlook him, but make no mistakes, Cordero has tools to dream on.
That doesn’t mean Cordero doesn’t have his flaws. Cordero began his first three and a half years in the minors as a shortstop to absolute awful results. In that time, Cordero made 126 errors in only 165 games at shortstop at the Rookie, Low-A, and Single-A levels. Which, suffice to say, is almost impressive. It wasn’t until a switch to left field in 2015 where we saw Cordero’s real defensive potential. In a short 30 game sample with the Padres, Cordero was worth 1.2 UZR. In a 162 game sample, it comes out just short of 6.5, putting him in the Jason Heyward/Giancarlo Stanton range.
To touch on the offense, Cordero has some red flags. In 93 games at AAA last year, Cordero walked just 5.5% of the time as well as striking out at a 28.2 percent clip. Let me answer what you’re thinking right now: Yes, there is massive potential for major league pitchers to eat him alive. While this may spell disaster, Cordero batted to the tune of a rather impressive .326/.369/.603 good for a 146 WRC+. On top of that Cordero hit an equally as respectable 17 home runs and stole 15 stolen bases.
Let’s talk about the power speed combo for a second. Cordero was rated the 8th fastest player in the majors behind familiar names like Delino DeShields and ahead of teammate Manuel Margot. In the power department, Cordero ranked 37th in all the majors in average exit velocity tied with Joc Pederson, and was leaps ahead of Cody Bellinger, George Springer, and Anthony Rendon. In short, Cordero hit the ball harder than anyone on the Padres and was faster than anyone on the Padres.
The unfortunate part about his short major league stint was he struck out. A lot. In 30 games Cordero struck out 44.4% of the time. Hopefully that stat is unsustainable, it was his first taste of the big leagues after all.
It’s good to mention that Cordero has gotten off to an absolutely fantastic Spring Training batting .407/.484/.815 (at the time of me writing this) with 2 home runs. While it is Spring Training and there’s a limited sample size, it’s very impressive for him to be out batting Ronald Acuña, the consensus #1/#2 prospect in baseball.
Will Cordero be starting for the Padres to begin the season? Probably not, he’s far too raw. On top of that, with the Padres rather questionable signing of Eric Hosmer, there’s too big of a log jam in the outfield with Myers, Margot, Pirela and Renfroe. With Renfroe looking more like a DH than a fielder, maybe they can find a deal to send him elsewhere. The Padres need to do something with Cordero soon, as he has already proven AAA to be a breeze.
Is Cordero the best prospect on the Padres? By all means, no. Is he the most interesting? That’s another story.
Cover Photo by Jake Roth