Hot on the Giants’ heels for worst offense in MLB are the Padres, sitting pretty at 29th. Unlike the Giants, though, the Friars have a stable of hitting prospects they can blend into the lineup as the season wears on, offering valuable playing time on a team with its eye on contention at the start of next decade. The latest kid to join the party? Franchy Cordero.
The 22-year-old Cordero has played in just 19 games this season (and in his major league career), yet he leads all Padres position players in Wins Above Replacement anyway, which is what happens when you bat .294/.351/.529 while playing your home games in a pitcher’s park. Scouts have long viewed Cordero as a power prospect with a strong arm who might struggle in other ways, with a shoddy batting eye holding him back; Baseball America didn’t even rank him among the Padres’ top 10 prospects heading into this season. Cordero’s plate discipline has been as bad as advertised, with the lanky outfielder striking out 29 times and walking just six times in 74 plate appearances (he went 0 for 4 on Sunday, taking a golden sombrero). Still, he’s done serious damage when he’s connected, cranking three homers, two triples, and three doubles.
His batting line will look very different once his small sample-induced .472 batting average on balls in play comes down to Earth. Still, one of the advantages of playing for tomorrow is giving your kids a chance. Multiple injuries to Pads outfielders have accelerated that opportunity. Twenty-five-year-old Hunter Renfroe is the big power threat in right field who needs to bump up his on-base skills to become an impact hitter. Manuel Margot is the raw talent who’ll need to grow into becoming a multi-dimensional threat in center, though the tools are most definitely there. Even when some of his injured teammates return to the field, there’s little reason for the Padres to do anything but give Cordero a shot in left, if only to see what they have.