By now, most Padres fans have heard of Jaff Decker, the slugging left fielder who tore apart Low-A last year at age 19. I ranked him as the best prospect in the system, and a top 20 prospect overall.
He’s not the only notable Decker in the system, however.
Cody Decker absolutely crushed the Arizona Rookie League last summer, batting .354/.421/.717 (that’s not a typo) with 15 homers and 63 RBI in just 52 games.
A 22nd round draft pick out of UCLA last year, Decker spent four years in college, so he’s behind the age curve at age 22. He did get a brief seven-game stint in Fort Wayne to end the season.
Decker is a solid defender at first base, and he obviously has tremendous hitting ability in all areas. He makes hard contact, has excellent power, and his plate discipline is average.
However, he obviously isn’t considered much of a prospect. If you’re 22 in Rookie ball, you better post a .490 wOBA just to stay on the map, particularly at first base.
The Padres are experimenting with something that could make Decker a major prospect however.
They’re trying to move him to catcher.
At 5’11″ and 215 lbs., Decker has a fairly prototypical catcher’s body. He possesses a solid-average arm as well.
If he can become an average defender behind the plate, Decker won’t have to slug .717 to have value, so he could remain a prospect even if his bat sags at higher levels.
Failing the move to catcher, Decker is also attempting to learn the outfield corners, but his catcher-esque body makes range an issue at those positions.
Sure, the odds are against this Decker far more than the other one, but you can’t completely discount a guy who shows this sort of hitting ability. If he can learn to catch, Decker will go from a curiosity to a solid prospect.
Keep an eye on Cody Decker; he just might turn into something in 2010.