If Cord Phelps
weren't a baseball player, he'd probably be an engineer.
He'd be building things and perfecting his wet-suit washer, a college pet project he came up with at Stanford before being taken by the Indians in the third round of the 2008 Draft.
Of course, that's a big "if," as the Akron Aeros second baseman has wanted to play baseball for as long as he can remember.
"My dad told me one time when I was real little and we were at a Giants game that I told him I wanted to be a professional baseball player," Phelps said. "I don't remember how old I was, but it seems like that's what I've always wanted to be."
The Cleveland Indians sure are glad Phelps chose baseball over mechanical engineering, as the aggressive contact hitter gives the organization much-needed depth in the middle infield.
Even more so, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound switch-hitting resident surfer is one of the Akron Aeros' top hitters, despite this season being his first experience at the Double-A level.
After batting .261 with 17 steals in his first full pro season at Class A Advanced Kinston, Phelps is pounding out an Eastern League best .383 (23-for-60) with two doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs, 11 runs scored and an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .964. Further, Phelps has only three games so far in which he hasn't collected at least one hit while recording nine multi-hit games.
"I think I still have to work on all facets of my game," he said. "As you move up, the stuff is a little more detailed. So there's always something to work on."
Part of Phelps' success so far this season has been his approach to life as a ballplayer.
"Everybody gets to a relaxed place in their own way," the 23-year old said. "For me, I just try to remind myself that I'm playing a kids' game and living my dream right now. I'm playing professional baseball, it's what I've always wanted to do."
Phelps grew up in a small Northern California town called Gaviota, but went to high school some 25 miles away in Santa Barbara before heading to Stanford for college. Initially, Phelps considered getting a degree in human biology, a common track for those looking to become a doctor.
"But then I took a chem class and quickly decided it wasn't for me," Phelps said. "That chemistry class was way too hard for me. So I knew I couldn't take all the pre-med requirements."
Later, Phelps tried a mechanical engineering class and was hooked.
"When I get a chance to go back to school this offseason or in the future, I'd like to explore that a little more to see where it takes me," he said.
Wherever it takes him, it will have to come after baseball.
Fresh Start: Right-handed pitcher Kyle Drabek enjoyed his best start since joining the Toronto Blue Jays organization as part of the Roy Halladay trade, striking out seven Binghamton batters over 5 2/3 scoreless innings in the Fisher Cats' 5-1 victory over Binghamton. MLB.com's No. 17 prospect, Drabek improved to 3-1 with a 3.80 ERA.
Way to Go Paco: Bowie infielder Paco Figueroa was named the Eastern League Player of the Week for the period ending April 25. Hitting leadoff for the Baysox, Figueroa sparked the offense while batting .481 (13-for-27) with a home run, seven RBIs and eight runs scored. Figueroa is currently on a six-game hitting streak and is the first Baysox player to be named Player of the Week since Nolan Reimold in September 2008. Overall, Figueroa is batting .351 (20-for-57) with four doubles, a home run and eight RBIs in 14 games. He has hit safely in 11 of the games with six multi-hit performances and has scored multiple runs in four of those contests.
Quality Control: The Harrisburg pitching staff ranks first in the 12-team Eastern League with a 2.08 ERA, as opponents are hitting just .216 against the Senators. Harrisburg is also fourth in the league with 131 strikeouts and has issued the fewest walks (44). ... The Sens' bullpen is a big part of the team's overall success, having allowed just one homer and sporting a collective 1.19 ERA.