Padres’ Outfielders Are Dominating the Dominican Winter League

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 07: Franchy Cordero
PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 07: Franchy Cordero /

Future staples in the San Diego Padres’ lineup, Manuel Margot and Franchy Cordero, have spent their offseason in the Dominican Winter League. Margot is currently hitting  .407 while Cordero is well on his way to a possible MVP finish to the season.

The San Diego Padres have a budding star in outfield prospect, Franchy Cordero. MLB Pipeline’s 12th ranked Padres’ prospect, made his MLB debut last season, appearing in 30 games. He hit .228 with 3 home runs, 6 walks, and 44 strikeouts in 92 at-bats.

Cordero has spent the offseason in the Dominican Winter League. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Cordero is a favorite to be the league’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year. He has had an unbelievable season with the playoff-bound Leones del Escogido.

Across 49 games, Cordero is slashing .322/.394/.497 with 5 home runs, 25 runs batted in, 7 doubles, 5 triples, and 30 runs scored. The left-handed batter has owned right-handed pitchers, hitting .353 against them, including four home runs. On December 20th, Cordero became the first Dominican Winter League player to reach 90 total bases in a season since the 2012-2013 season. He still has one game left on the regular season schedule to add to his total.

The shortstop, turned outfielder, possesses plus-speed and a plus-arm that has allowed for a seamless transition to centerfield. He committed just five errors in the outfield between AAA and the majors last season after committing 126 errors at shortstop over his first four seasons of minor league ball.

Now, where does Cordero fit into the 2018 major league lineup? It appears as if, initially, the 23 year-old will begin in AAA. He has a long swing, struggles against heat up in the zone, and has only recently began to develop his power and put all of his offensive tools together. Manuel Margot has centerfield locked down. According to Fangraphs, Hunter Renfroe and Jose Pirela will slot into the corner outfield spots, leaving no room in the outfield quite yet.

However, it won’t be long before Cordero becomes a staple in the Padres’ lineup if he can cut down his strikeout rate and close the gap between in his splits against lefties and righties. Last season in El Paso, Cordero hit .358 against righties and a measly .227 against lefties.

Joining Franchy Cordero in the Dominican Winter League is fellow native, Manuel Margot.

Margot had quite the rookie campaign in 2017. Despite missing time with a calf injury, Margot finished the year slashing .263/.313/.409 with 13 home runs, 18 doubles, 7 triples, and 17 stolen bases. His 1.9 WAR was good for second on the team, behind fellow outfielder, Jose Pirela (2.1). He finished second on the team in steals (13) and hits (128).

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There’s no doubt that Margot will be the Opening Day centerfielder, but that doesn’t mean that he is taking this offseason lightly.

Margot has returned home to the Dominican Republic to play for the Toros del Este of the Dominican Winter League. It’s a very small sample size, but his play over six games has been noteworthy.

As of December 21st, he is batting .467 (14-30) with two doubles, four runs scored, and four runs batted in. He has struck out just three times over his first week of play. Margot has gone hitless in just one game, gathering multiple hits in his other six appearances. He’s doing exactly what he needs to do, smash singles and get on base.

The 2018 San Diego Padres will be in a unique position.

The team appears as if they want to compete next year, despite their massive influx of young talent being a year or two away from contributing at the major league level. The potential addition of Eric Hosmer adds to the belief that the Friars will be competitors next year.

Bringing in Hosmer will push Wil Myers to the outfield. He has 207 games of experience in the outfield over his five year career. Currently, Fangraphs projects Jose Pirela as the starting left fielder without Hosmer in the picture, but can he contribute at a high clip over a 162 game season? Last season’s 83 games were a career high at the major league level for the 28 year-old.

Cordero is banging down the door for an everyday starting job. Margot is established as the centerfielder of the future. Hunter Renfroe is slotted in right field and had a successful rookie season (26 HR/25 2B). 

Would the addition of Hosmer allow the Padres to trade one of their young stars?

Regardless, it’s an exciting time to be a Padres fan. With promising winter performances, such as Cordero’s possible MVP run, there’s little doubt that the future of the Friars is in capable hands.

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