Cordoba surpassing expectations early

Cordoba surpassing expectations early

WASHINGTON -- Whatever the Padres envisioned as the best-case scenario for Allen Cordoba in his rookie season, he's already surpassed it. And then some.

The Rule 5 Draft rookie was batting .307 in 81 plate appearances this season entering play Friday night. His weighted runs created plus -- a metric that measures the entirety of a player's offensive performance relative to the rest of the league -- has climbed to 122, putting him 22 percent above Major League average.

All of this, despite the fact that Cordoba had never played a game above Rookie ball until Opening Day.

"I didn't have anticipation that he would be doing this," Padres manager Andy Green said. "I don't think anybody did. But he's proven that a guy that sees the baseball and swings at good pitches, they can make a big jump."

When the Padres selected Cordoba from St. Louis with the third selection in December's Rule 5 Draft, many in baseball questioned whether a 21-year-old Appalachian League prospect could make the jump to the Major Leagues. That list included Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, who noted at the time, "I still think there's a pretty good chance we get him back."

That looks less and less likely every day. With Manuel Margot out nursing a right calf injury, Cordoba has batted in the leadoff spot on consecutive nights. He's hitting .385 over his past 13 games and has recorded multiple hits in four of his past five starts.

"It's nothing that's out of this world," Cordoba said of his jump to the Majors. "The pitcher still has to throw the ball in the strike zone, and I still have to swing and hit it. Of course, it's a much higher talent level. But those things are the same. Little by little and game by game, I feel like I've been able to adjust to the velocity and adjust to the pitches."

Green stressed that Cordoba's immaculate eye, specifically his ability to take walks, is what allowed him to make such massive progress in such a short period of time.

Defensively, Cordoba has played all over the field, having seen time at shortstop, second base, left field and center. He spent his entire career in the Cardinals organization at shortstop, but the Padres feel as though his progression there is behind his progression at the plate.

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Cordoba takes pregame reps at the position every day with infielders coach Ramon Vazquez and third base coach Glenn Hoffman. He also works very closely with 12-year-veteran Erick Aybar, who has taken Cordoba under his wing.

"He's always telling me to watch him during the games when he's playing," Cordoba said. "So I watch what he does. I watch his actions and just observe. It's a difficult position. You have to be the leader out there, you have to be communicating. You have to know how the game's going, and you have to cover a lot of ground. ... There's a lot to learn. But I know I'm going to get there."

Green said Cordoba will continue to receive sporadic playing time at short this season. But he noted that an everyday role would be too much too soon.

"Shortstop, there's so many intricacies to the position, that it can become overwhelming and impact his entire game," Green said. "I don't think it's bad to get him a game here or there at short. But I think handing the keys over to him and saying, 'Hey play shortstop every day, we're going to ride with you through it,' I don't think he's ready for that.

"But he's looked at me before and said, 'I'm going to be your shortstop.' I love that kind of confidence. In due time, I wouldn't want to sell him short. He's already proved a lot of people wrong."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.