WooSox notebook: Franchy Cordero swinging a red-hot bat as he tries to find consistency at the plate
WORCESTER — The WooSox might have the hottest hitter in Triple A atop their lineup.
Since he was optioned back to Worcester on August 2, Franchy Cordero has been tearing the cover off the ball, much like he did before he was called up at the end of April.
He sat out the first two games of this homestand with a knee bruise, but came back swinging a very hot bat, racking up nine RBIs and 15 total bases over the last two games.
Cordero broke Friday night’s game open with an opposite-field grand slam off Rochester starter Franklyn Kilome.
“He got in a 2-0 count, and I was thinking it’s not a great count to deal with with the bases loaded,” WooSox manager Chad Tracy said. “You could get a little happy and try to pull it or whatever. But he just stayed right through it. He has huge power to all fielder, so to see him using the big part of the field is great.”
On Thursday, he went deep off of a righty, Joan Adon, and then again off a lefty, Alberto Baldonado.
“He’s impressive when he’s like that. Homer off a lefty…that what was impressed in me early in the season, he didn’t look too bothered by left-handed pitching either, which is what I think sticks out about him,” Tracy said. He can hit, he hangs in there against lefties and you see traits of maybe an everyday player.”
Cordero struggled toward the end of his most recent stint in the majors after getting off to a decent start, hitting .153 with 36 strikeouts in 72 at-bats in 24 major-league games since July 1.
Anyone who watches Cordero over a long stretch of time knows what can be so frustrating about him as a hitter: the inconsistency. Cordero’s good games, especially in Triple A, tend to be really good. But stringing together good performances doesn’t come as easy. The goal while Cordero is in Worcester is to find a way to “elongate those periods” where he’s swinging a hot bat.
“For him, it’s just consistency,” Tracy said. “He has those moments. Then he has the few games where he’ll struggle and strikeouts pile up and then all of a sudden he’ll go 4-for-4 again.”
It goes without saying that a large part of the reason Cordero is hitting .386 in 11 games in his second stint with the WooSox is the fact that he’s facing Triple A pitching instead of major league pitching. But looking beyond that, the fact that Cordero is back to playing the positions he’s used to on a full-time basis.
Since coming back to Worcester, it seems like Cordero’s days of filling in at first base are over, at least for the time being. While Cordero played serviceable defense at first base when he was needed in the infield, it’s clear he’s most comfortable in the outfield. He’s played exclusively in the outfield for the WooSox since returning, getting the bulk of his time at the corners but also seeing some time in center, sometimes out of need for Worcester. However, center field is Cordero’s favorite position to play, according to Tracy.
“I think most guys will do whatever they have to do to get up to the big leagues, but he’s obviously comfortable in the outfield. He’s a pretty good center fielder too,” Tracy said. “I always tease him because he plays a lot at the corners and I said ‘you need to play some center.’ And he says ‘that’s my favorite position.’ He’s a good outfielder. It could be that there are times where it takes one of the things you’re thinking about in a game out of your mind because you’re very comfortable.”
It’s also pretty clear from any time watching Cordero at Polar Park that he is in his element with his teammates and the fans. He almost always has a smile on his face. He even came out after Friday’s game and threw t-shirts to fans before the fireworks show.
For now, Cordero is getting as many at-bats as possible atop a WooSox lineup that is as dangerous as it’s been all season (debatably the heaviest-hitting lineup the WooSox have ever had) and continues to produce and get in time in the outfield to stay ready as an option should the Red Sox call on him.
“I think for him it’s a matter of getting back down here and taking a deep breath,” Tracy said. “We put him at the top of the lineup to get him as many at-bats as we can, and let him take a deep breath and get back to who he is, or who he was for a couple of months in the big leagues. I think people forget sometimes because his last little bit of time up there, he struggled, but they forget the first bit of time when he was helping them win. Then more stuff started to pile up. He was asked to do different things and he had some struggles.
“But we want him to take a deep breath and enjoy himself, take good at-bats, get back to who is he, and hopefully we can get him locked in again and make him an option if they need an outfielder to go back up there.”
Jeter Downs injury update
WooSox shortstop Jeter Downs left Thrusday’s game after falling halfway between first and second while trying for a double and was limping in the clubhouse on Friday. He is day-to-day but won’t play this weekend as he gets treatment on his injured left ankle.
“We all think a sprained ankle is like going to the outside. It’s more of an inward sprain,” WooSox manager Chad Tracy said before Friday’s game.
Get your Fitzy gear
The WooSox will become the first team in Minor League Baseball to present a player merchandise line when they officially release their “WooSox X RYAN FITZGERALD” collection on August 20 at Polar Park.
Players and staff have been rocking shirts in three different designs that Fitzgerald had input on. Most opted for the shirt that featured a likeness of Fitzgerald complete with his big sunglasses and, of course, his signature mullet.
The fashion line was designed by Courtney Cowsill, the club’s director of graphic and web design.
“Throughout my career there are moments that live in technicolor in my memory,” Cowsill said. “Now I have another moment to add to that reel: sitting in the Polar Park home dugout watching Ryan Fitzgerald view the final product line. He was so receptive and honestly as excited as we were. You can’t ask for more than that.
Fitzgerald will sign autographs and take pictures with fans in the team store Saturday from 12-12:30 p.m. The first 300 fans to purchase an item from the collection will receive a free, special-edition “Fitzy Fan Club” sticker. Items will be available through the end of the year or while supplies last.