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Texas notes: Cordell continues to diversify

Rangers prospect taking reps all over the field in RoughRiders debut
July 21, 2015

Ryan Cordell has looked right at home in the batter's box this season, as he always has. The Rangers' No. 10 prospect is still trying to get situated in the field, though.

Not that Cordell, a 23-year-old in his second full season in the Texas organization, is complaining.

"I definitely see value in playing multiple positions," he said. "They know I can play outfield, so just being able to add the infield as one of my tools, I think that definitely adds value to me."

If Cordell accomplishes anything this season, which has included his first promotion to Double-A Frisco, it's the addition of a few lines to his resume.

Drafted as an outfielder from Liberty University in the 11th round in 2013, Cordell played a bit of first base at Class A Hickory in 2014, but most of his first two years in pro baseball have been spent in the outfield. That hasn't been the story this season.

In 68 games at Class A Advanced High Desert, Cordell played left field, center field, shortstop and third base. Since he was promoted to Frisco late last month, he's played first base, third base, center and right. The only positions he hasn't played this season are catcher, pitcher and second base as the Rangers have tried to diversify his defensive profile.

"They know I'm a good outfielder and that I can play all the outfield positions," he said. "But they just want me to be a guy who can kind of play any position, play anywhere, and as long as I hit, that will get me in the lineup. So that's a positive."

The changed role has altered Cordell's pregame routines a bit. In addition to taking batting practice and defensive repetitions at whatever position he's slated to play that day, Cordell will pick one extra infield position to take ground balls, since that's where he's played the least.

So, does all the work mean he's comfortable in his new defensive spots?

"If I'm being honest, no," he said. "But I've been talking with the coaches and trying to take the attitude of 'Just have fun out there,' because if you're not having fun and you're stressed out, then the game speeds up and it's terrible."

Cordell has had his biggest troubles at third base -- not a surprise, considering Cordell had never played the position at any level before this year -- committing 10 errors there in 22 games between High Desert and Frisco. He's made seven errors in 14 games at shortstop, which he hadn't played since high school.

He's trying his best, though, to not let his unpredictable defensive assignments affect his approach at the plate. He hit .311 with 13 homers and 57 RBIs in 68 games at High Desert to earn a promotion. He was hitting .326 through his first 12 games with Frisco before a recent slump caused his average to dip to .264 with a .321 on-base percentage and a .389 slugging percentage.

Cordell said he spoke to former Rangers All-Star Michael Young in the spring about how to not let uncertain defensive positions affect his performance at the plate. Young played at least 400 Major League games at second base, third and shortstop, providing a resume perfect to guide Cordell.

"I asked him, 'Does that affect your offense at all?'" Cordell said. "And he said, 'You cannot let it affect your offense. They're two totally separate things.' So far this year, it hasn't. Games I've made errors in I've hit, and vice versa."

In brief

Right back in: Corpus Christi right-hander Kyle Westwood returned from the temporary inactive list Sunday and didn't waste time getting back in the swing of things. Westwood, 24, became the first Texas League pitcher to notch a second complete game this season when he held Midland to three runs on seven hits and struck out six in the Hooks' 9-4 victory. Westwood's first complete game came June 21 in a seven-inning loss to San Antonio. Westwood is 7-3 with a 4.20 ERA in seven appearances this year.

Not slowing down: Frisco's Nick Williams gained notieriety July 10 when he went 7-for-7 during a doubleheader sweep of Northwest Arkansas, and he's kept his hot streak going. After taking a series off to play in the All-Star Futures Game, Williams hit two home runs July 16 against Corpus Christi and drove in two runs the next night. Williams is hitting .372 and slugging .651 in 43 July at-bats.

Suitable replacement: Trevor Gott converted all eight of his save opportunities through the first two months of the season for the Arkansas Travelers and was promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake in May and to the Los Angeles Angels in June. The Travs didn't struggle finding a closer in Gott's absence, though. Greg Mahle, 22, has nine saves in 10 opportunities, and the time he blew a save he later earned the win. Mahle, in his first season as a closer, has a 1.88 ERA in 15 Double-A appearances with 18 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings.

Troy Schulte is a contributor to