New York Yankees Player Profiles: Nestor Cortes Jr. and Rougned Odor create sparks (videos)

There is no question that the New York Yankees have been sluggish in pitching to this point in pitching but primarily with lackluster hitting. However, two Yankees are making a difference providing some sparks to a team that seemed to have little urgency and energy. Those two players are Nestor Cortes Jr. and Rougned (Rougie) Odor. Cortes Jr. has been a good reliever for the Yankees, but recently he has become a good starter with his wacky windups and surprising pitch selection. His stuff is so nasty it’s Nestor Nasty. When in the lineup, Odor provides some excitement as he swings for the fences in every at-bat. He plays with a passion seldom seen.

Nestor Cortes Jr.

The New York Yankees seem not to know what to do with Nestor Cortes Jr.; they drafted him and fired him twice, now; in his third stint with the Yankees, he is gradually making a name for himself. Although a great reliever, he appears to be a dependable starter for the Yankees. He has two starts winning both of them.

Cortes Jr. is an old fashion pitcher, a real pitcher that constantly surprises his opponents with an often whacky windup and throwing any pitch at any time. He keeps hitters off-balance, often making them laugh. In a game against the Angels, he faced the great Shohei Ohtani. When Cortes made a bunch of strange moves on the mound, Ohtani laughed, thinking that Cortes was afraid to pitch to him; the fact was that he was playing with Ohtani.  Cortes is afraid of nothing and always has fun on the mound. He can’t blow away hitters, but his mental game wins.

Cortes Jr. throws a four-seam fastball that averages approximately 89 miles per hour. He also throws a slider and a curveball. His curveball has been registered as slow as 47 miles per hour. Hitters never know what they are going to get from Cortes. He throws all of his pitches in any situation. His style has given Yankee fans something to enjoy.

Cortés was born in Surgidero de Batabano, Cuba. His father won a lottery when Nestor was just a baby, and his father moved the family to Hialeah, Florida. Cortes started playing baseball at the age of 5. He pitched for Hialeah High School and Florida International University. The Yankees selected Cortes in the 36th round of the 2013 draft. He started in the Gulf Coast League, but the Yankees didn’t protect him, and the Orioles claimed him in the Rule 5 draft. He made his Major League debut as a Baltimore Oriole on the first day of the 2018 season.

On April 13, 2018, he was returned to the Yankees. He played in one game for the Trenton Thunder, but he advanced to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, combining a 6–6 record and a 3.68 ERA in 24 games. In spring training in 2019, he didn’t make the team and again started the season in Scranton. On May 9th, he was advanced to the Stadium. On June 15, he earned his first Major League win but again was sent down to Scranton, where he completed the season 5-1, but in November, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners. He bombed with the Mariners and selected free agency.

In a third stint, the New York Yankees signed him to a minor league contract. He came up to the Stadium on May 20, 2021. His record since then is 0-0 in nine games, two of which were starts. The result is a 1.05 ERA. The Yankees have won both of his starts.

Rougned Odor

New York Yankee fans found out six days into the 2021 season that the Yankees made an intriguing trade. They traded with the Texas Rangers acquiring Rougned Odor. Odor was to sit on the bench. The 27-year-old Odor had $27 million left on his contract; most will be paid by the Rangers while the Yankees will pay him the MLB minimum per Jeff Passan of ESPN. The question for Yankees fans was why Odor. Well, for starters, he is a lefty bat with power. Odor consistently hits home runs, 30 in 2019 and the equivalent of 26 in the shortened 2020 season. With his lefty power, the short porch at Yankee Stadium looms huge. Odor is a second baseman by trade, so the Yankees have platooned him with DJ LeMahieu.

With New York Yankee fans knowing little to nothing about this still young man, let’s find out his origins and what got him to the Bronx. Rougned Roberto Odor was born on February 3, 1994, in Maracaibo, Venezuela.  He has been playing baseball since the age of 2. [1]. He previously played for the Texas Rangers from 2014 to 2020. The Rangers traded Odor to the Yankees on April 6, 2021. [2]

After three years in the Texas Rangers, minor league system, the Rangers promoted Odor to the major leagues on May 8, 2014. Odor finished the year hitting a .259 batting average, 39 runs, 14 doubles, 9 home runs, 4 stolen bases, and 48 RBIs in 386 at-bats over 110 games. In 2015 Odor was the opening day second baseman, but he struggled mightily and was demoted but was shortly called back up. He finished the season hitting .261, with 16 home runs, 61 RBIs, and 54 runs scored, but he also led the league in errors.

In 2016 he finished the year with a .271 batting average, 33 home runs. In 2017 he did something few players have ever done; in the season opener against the Cleveland Indians, Odor hit two home runs in his first two at-bats of the season. During the last few years, 2018-20, he had a slash line of .209/.273/.425 with 58 home runs over the span. Other than a relatively low batting average, and even though he hits many home runs, he also strikes out frequently. In acquiring Odor, the Yankees may have seen something that the Rangers haven’t seen and can find a way to fix that.

A lefty bat with power is dangerous for Yankee opponents at Yankee Stadium; hopefully, the Yankees will find a way to use Odor with the best results.

On a personal note, his nickname is “Rougie.” Odor is deeply involved in horses and the sport of toros coleados. His involvement in horses started when he visited his mother’s family on weekends, who had horses. His long-range plan is to build a horse farm in North Texas and move his entire family from Venezuela.

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