Last week, I began to look at some of the prospects John labeled as sleepers in his Baseball Prospect Book 2016. This week, I turn my attention to the depths of the St. Louis Cardinals system and take a look at Allen Cordoba.
Cordoba was signed out of Panama in 2012 at the age of 17. The 6-foot-1, 175 pound right handed shortstop had two nice seasons in the Dominican Summer League before breaking out in a big way in 2015.
Allen Cordoba won the Gulf Coast League MVP award last summer and has the tools to back it up.
What a summer it was in the GCL. He slashed .342/.401/.421 with two home runs. Not only did he show an advanced feel at the plate, he vastly improved on his plate discipline and contact rates. He struck out just 20 times while walking 15 over 229 plate appearances. He cut his strikeout rate from a career 16.6 percent to 8.7 percent. He also showed that while his speed is slightly above average, he knows how to use it, going 11-for-14 on the base paths.
So, how does a 19-year old follow up an MVP performance?
Cordoba went to the Appalachian League, where he put in yet another MVP-caliber campaign. He led the Appy in hitting at .362, 15 points higher than his closest competition. He posted career highs in both on base percentage (.427) and slugging percentage (.495) primarily behind his career high 16 doubles. Once again he was nearly perfect on the base paths, stealing 22 bases in 26 chances, third best in the Appy.
Most importantly, he was brilliant at the plate, improving his feel for the strike zone. This season, for the first time in his career, he walked (21 times) more than he strikeout (19 times). It’s tough to find a flaw in a 20 year old who walks 9.5 percent of the time while striking out just 8.6 percent of the time over the course of the season.
He is a bit error-prone but has the range to play shortstop and with more reps he could/should become a very impressive defender.
The fielding is definitely one of his flaws. When John wrote that in his 2016 preseason assessment, Cordoba had committed 17 errors in 253 total chances the season before. One thing is for sure and that is Cordoba is consistent in the field. He committed 17 errors yet again in 2016 in 266 total chances (a .936 fielding percentage). He has a strong arm, and clearly the speed to keep his range factor around the five mark, so it would be fair to assume he gets another shot at short before a position change is discussed.
The main question is power development but he has some wiry strength to him and should be good for some doubles at least as he moves up.
Cordoba digressed in the over the wall power department, slugging no home runs, but did show his gap power with that career high in doubles. What is remarkable is that even without the big home runs, he has posted a 149 and 157 wRC+ the past two seasons, showing how valuable he is in the runs department (his 49 in 2016 were third best in the Appy). He does have the frame to develop some pop, but to expect anything more than low-double digits in home runs as his ceiling is not very fair.
CONCLUSION: John got it right. You can cross Cordova off of the sleeper list for 2017, as he is quietly becoming the next young star in the Cardinals vaunted farm system. You won’t see him on a big league roster any time soon, but it will be fun to see how he handles his jump to full-season ball in 2017.