Look, I’m supposed to hate comps. Seemingly everyone who writes about baseball—particularly prospect writers, anyway—hates comps, or at least pretends to. Maybe I do, I don’t know. I don’t think so, though; I’m tolerant of them, at least. Shoot, I sort of like ’em. Dammit I love me a good comp.
So here’s one for your consideration:
I can’t help but think about Maybin when watching Cordero in center field over the last couple of days. They have a similar build (Maybin’s currently listed at 6-foot-3, 215, and Cordero 6-foot-3, 175) and running style. Cordero profiles as a slick-fielding center fielder with a strikeout problem and some pop. Maybin was (still is, kind of) a slick-fielding center fielder with a strikeout problem and some pop. Let’s check out some numbers.
Here’s Maybin in the minors:
And here’s Cordero, not including his first couple of years in rookie ball:
Alright, alright, so Maybin moved a little quicker through the minors, he had far more patience, he played in a bit tougher hitting environments overall, and he dropped the strikeout rate significantly in Triple-A, whereas Cordero’s K rate actually jumped up in relatively limited exposure to Triple-A this year. Maybin was, of course, a much better prospect than Cordero. He was a consensus top 10 prospect from like 2007 through 2009. In November 2008, for instance, Kevin Goldstein put a glass-half-empty Mike Cameron comp on him.
Ultimately, though, development is an uneven path. Maybin, while a good major leaguer for a number of years, arguably hasn’t even lived up to the Cameron comparison. Once in The Show, his power didn’t play much (.114 ISO), the walk rate dipped (8.4 percent), and he got injured . . . a lot. On the plus side, Maybin was an excellent defensive center fielder in his prime, with good value added on the base paths. His best season was 2011, in San Diego, where he added 20 runs in the field and on the bases alone (10 in each area), and produced 4.3 WAR, per FanGraphs, despite a pedestrian 105 wRC+.
To get close to Maybin’s level, Cordero will have to go in the opposite direction. He’ll have to perform better than his minor-league performance and the scouting reports indicate. Right now, the projection systems don’t see it. Steamer and ZiPS peg him as a replacement level player, and PECOTA’s long term outlook doesn’t project him getting much beyond that level. The big question, according to both the numbers and the scouts, is whether the hit tool will play at the major-league level.
On the other hand, he does possess the kind of tools that could, like Maybin, make him an impact player defensively and on the bases. He’s already shown off his wheels on the bases, scoring from third with the infield in yesterday against the Cubs, a play which followed a hustle triple. In the field he glides to ball with a Jackie Bradley Jr.-like confidence, as if he were born to play center field (he used to play shortstop, or at least try to).
Going back to Goldstein, maybe Maybin is a Perfect World Projection for Cordero. If everything breaks right from here on out, that’s Cordero’s realistic upside. Maybe. In reality there are a lot of career paths worse than Maybin’s that are more likely for Cordero. That’s the thing with prospects: they can break a lot of ways, and most of them are bad. Still, there’s a shot.
Like the guys discussed on the Gwynntelligence podcast the other day, Cordero is at least an intriguing prospect to turn to in the middle of the season, and his outlook beats the cavalcade of Quad-A minor leaguers and low upside veterans the Padres have churned through over the years.