Ryan Cordell used to be a highly-regarded prospect back in the day. Now, he is a 27-year-old outfielder trying to make it in the big leagues, no matter the role. The New York Mets are giving him an extended opportunity to show what he can do in spring training.
It is still early in the spring, but so far, Cordell makes for a nice story. He hasn’t walked yet and has four strikeouts, so the plate discipline part remains a work in progress. But he has four hits in 11 at-bats and four games this month. One of the hits left the yard, and he has driven in two runs and scored two so far.
His .364 average and 1.091 OPS are among the highest in the Mets’ spring roster. He has something that not many outfielders in the team have: the ability to play center field. Only Brandon Nimmo and Jake Marisnick can defend the position adequately, and therefore Cordell represents a nice backup plan.
Cordell played in 97 big league games with the Chicago White Sox in 2019. He had a .221/.290/.355 slash line with a low .279 wOBA and an even lower 73 wRC+. He was below average offensively and defensively (-2.6 fielding runs per Fangraphs.)
The Mets need to see more
However, he only had 247 plate appearances. In those, he hit 7 home runs, scored 22 runs and drove in 24, with 3 steals. You can’t judge a player for 247 plate appearances, especially one with prospect pedigree. He has a lot of work to do, but maybe the New York Mets can salvage his career.
He has only accumulated 287 plate appearances in two seasons at the big league level. We need more sample to really determine if he is a bust or if he can at least be a reserve outfielder.
For now, he has an uphill battle to even make the Mets’ roster. The team currently employs Nimmo, Marisnick, Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith and Yoenis Cespedes, not to mention Jeff McNeil. They are all capable of playing the outfield.
It doesn’t matter where the Mets put him, whether it is Triple-A or the bigs. He needs to prove that he can cut his strikeout rate (29.3 percent in his major league career) and make consistent contact to have a role.
He has the tools to at least make it as a part-time player. Fangraphs assigned him a 40 rating, with a 40 hit tool, 45 game power, 55 raw power and 60 speed. He is running out of time, though.