Cordero making good first impression
Small samples have to be viewed with caution, but the early verdict on Dodgers infielder Josmar Cordero is "so far, so good."
In his first year in a full-season league, Cordero went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI in the Class A Great Lakes Loons' 17-1 rout of the visiting West Michigan Whitecaps on Monday.
It gave the first baseman his third outing with three or more hits in his first four Midwest League games while raising his average to .550.
The 19 hits and 17 runs allowed by the Whitecaps were season highs and the 16-run defecit was the worst in the franchise's 21-year history. The Loons fell one run short of matching a team record.
"He's off to a good start," said Great Lakes hitting coach Johnny Washington, who is in his sixth year with the Dodgers and his first season with the Loons. "He maintains a good approach to the middle of the field and he uses the whole field well.
"He has an inside-out-type swing to right-center and he lets the ball travel deep before using his hands. He's long in the hitting zone, short to the ball but long through it. It's a small sample size, but I like what I see. So far, so good."
Cordero hit an RBI single to left field in the first inning and he singled to right and scored in the fourth. He pulled another base hit to left to lead off the fifth and loaded the bases with his fourth hit of the evening -- a single up the middle -- in the seventh. Cordero had a shot at his second career five-hit game, but he grounded back to pitcher Scott Sitz for the second out of the eighth.
It was his sixth professional game with at least four hits. He went 5-for-6 for the Dominican Summer League Dodgers in a 13-inning loss to the Royals affiliate on June 18, 2011.
A 22-year-old out of Barquisimeto in Venezuela, Cordero has been in the Dodgers system since 2010. He appeared in 157 DSL games over his first three years with the organization and batted .272 with five homers and 28 RBIs in 36 Arizona League contests last summer.
Over those four years, he posted a .304/.366/.465 slash line with a combined 44 walks and 91 strikeouts in 189 appearances.
Cordero went 3-for-5 in his full-season debut in South Bend on Thursday and he followed that up with a 4-for-6 performance the next night. Added to the roster along with Ralston Cash when Justin Chigbogu and James Baune were assigned to Rookie-level Ogden last Wednesday, Cordero was hitless in four at-bats in the series finale against the Silver Hawks on Saturday before the Loons headed home.
"He is really a professional," said Washington, whose ability to speak English and Spanish has helped Cordero fit in quickly. "His English is average to just-above-average and he can get by and understand goals and what we are trying to help him accomplish as a hitter.
"The count dictates how he wants to approach his at-bats. He tries to execute his game plan and he uses the big part of the field, which is what good hitters do. I would like to see him maintain the same approach and to battle with two strikes. He has had a few at-bats with two strikes and he has made some adjustments already."
Leadoff hitter and second baseman Jesmuel Valentin was 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles, five RBIs and two runs scored and catcher Kyle Farmer added three hits, three RBIs and two runs out of the No. 3 spot. Every starter in the Loons lineup had at least one hit.
"It is always good to get a team victory. We just want to have as many quality at-bats as possible," Washington said. "Jesmuel has been very consistent at the plate. He has a good approach and he tries to use the whole field. It's always good when you have kids who have good mental approaches."
Added Valentin: "We're a very together team and we know we should be better than we have been. We figure we have four weeks left in this half and we can still make a run."
The offense proved more than enough for Jonathan Martinez (4-4), who allowed one run on four hits while striking out four batters over six innings.
"We've been working on his leverage over the mound and that allows him to come down in the zone with his pitches," Loons pitching coach Bill Simas said. "He doesn't walk many, but that's something we've emphasized with all of these guys since Spring Training."
Whitecaps starter Buck Farmer (4-3) surrendered nine runs -- three earned -- on eight hits over four innings. He issued four walks and fanned four Loons.
Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB.