Yesterday the San Diego Padres promoted minor league veterans Cody Decker and Jay Jackson to the major league roster from Triple-A El Paso. We discussed Jackson earlier today. Here's a look at Cody Decker.
Decker played college baseball for four seasons at UCLA. His freshman year in 2006 (.302/.343/.571) and sophomore year in 2007 (.307/.376/.583) were very good, but he slumped in his 2008 junior campaign (.218/.340/.382), just in time to kill his stock in the draft. He rebounded as a senior in 2009 (.322/.434/.683) with 21 homers, but there were some caveats including the bad taste from 2008 and scout dislike for his stocky 5-11, 215 pound build. These caveats kept him low on the draft lists; he was picked in the 22nd round by the Padres.
Decker hit for power at the lower levels and continued doing so as he moved up the farm system ladder. He reached Triple-A in 2012 and has spent the last three seasons hitting home runs in the Pacific Coast League: 17 homers in '13, 27 in '14, 21 in '15. He also strikes out a lot and doesn't hit for high averages, giving him a career line of .257/.336/.501 in Triple-A. Isolated power is his calling card; he has 154 career minor league home runs, 69 of them in Triple-A.
We do have to keep in mind that this is all in the PCL and in relative terms his overall production has been good rather than excellent: his wRC+ marks are 116 and 117 the last two seasons. He's limited to first base defensively, he's 28 years old, and big league pitchers will likely exploit the considerable amount of swing-and-miss in his game. The general impression among PCL sources is that Decker is a Quadruple-A player, although everyone loves to watch him play.
Cold rationality aside, Decker is impossible not to root for and it is quite cool that he's getting an opportunity. Padres fans have wanted him to get a chance for years. He has an entertainingly broad personality, cutting a swath of fun through the social media universe with his Twitter account.
With Yonder Alonso out for the season, it would be great to see Decker play regularly the last two weeks of the season at first base, just to see what can happen.
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