Before this spring, I’d be hard-pressed to find one Mets fan who had heard of Ryan Cordell. The Amazins signed him to a minor league deal back in January, and he was a non-roster invitee to spring training. Cordell came from the Chicago White Sox, where he got off to a hot start at the plate in 2019 but cooled off to a .221 batting average by the end of the season.
In February and March, Cordell saw significant playing time in the outfield during spring training games in Port St. Lucie. He made the most of it. Cordell had 38 plate appearances this past spring, notching 10 hits and one home run for a .270 batting average.
He also had several defensive highlights, including this sprawling catch to rob the Astros’ Michael Brantley of an extra-base hit. A couple of days prior, Cordell showed off his strong arm with an outfield assist to double up a runner at first base and end the inning.
Last offseason, the Mets traded for Jake Marisnick, who is essentially an outfield defensive specialist. Marisnick is only signed through 2020, meaning that if Cordell can stick around in the Mets organization after this year, he could easily get a shot as a future defensive replacement. Cordell could also appear in a Mets game sooner than that if this season’s expanded rosters open up a spot for him.
In his short time with the Mets so far, Cordell has impressed his new manager with his variety of baseball skills.
“He features the speed, he features the defense and he’s had some good at-bats in games as well,” said Luis Rojas during spring training.
Brad Gunter Jr, Cordell’s high school baseball coach at Valley Christian Academy in Roseville, California, believes strongly that his former player has what it takes to be successful in the big leagues.
“It’s his athleticism,” Gunter said in a recent interview. “Anybody that sees him, that’s why they keep signing him and the fanbase has no clue who he is. They just see analytics with a batting average with the WAR (wins above replacement) or whatever and they’re like, ‘Oh, we don’t need that guy.’”
Depending on injuries and effectiveness on their major league squad, the Mets may very well need Cordell by the end of the season.
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All three of these players are unlikely to make the 2020 Mets roster outright. If this year has shown us anything, however, it’s that nothing about the 2020 baseball season is set in stone. Due to factors beyond their control, Gimenez, Peterson, and Cordell may play in Queens sooner than anyone expected.