The Mets knew they had a great defensive catcher. What they have learned, is that Albert Cordero has the potential to be a lot more than that.
Last season, as a 20 year old with the Kingsport Mets, Cordero had a solid season. He hit .282, with a .469 SLG and only struck out 10.7% of the time. However, the main reason he was even on the Mets radar as a prospect, was because of his defensive abilities.
He is considered to be the best defensive catcher in the organization. Last year he threw out 43 percent of potential base-stealers, has quick feet, and receives well. As a catching prospect, it is even more important to be good defensively because there are major league catchers who aren’t necessarily hitters; just ask Drew Butera of the Twins, and Jeff Mathis of the Angels.
Former Mets fifth round pick Drew Butera (Mets traded him for Luis Castillo) has hit.182 in 307 at bats over two years with the Twins. Considering he hit .214 in 1419 at bats in five seasons as a minor leaguer, it is not as if he stopped hitting in the pros; he simply has never been a good hitter. He is with Minnesota because of his defense.
Jeff Mathis has been even more fortunate that catchers apparently do not need to hit in the majors. Over the past four seasons, Mathis has averaged 78 starts a season despite his batting average of .196 and OBP of .258. Like Mr. Butera of the Twins, he is in the majors because of his defense as the only value these two provide at the plate, is when they are squatting behind it.
I mention these two players because they are a great example of what Cordero could be. His defensive prowess already had him on the Mets radar and is already ahead of Butera as a hitter at the same point in their careers. Despite that, the way he has hit in the second half of the season should have the Mets thinking bigger for him.
Since the All-Star break, Albert is hitting .353 with a .389 OBP and a .493 SLG in 150 at-bats, with seven walks against 17 k’s. In the first half, Cordero hit .219, with a .248 OBP and a .297 SLG, with four walks against 37 k’s in 155 at-bats. So not only is he walking more and striking out less, two great signs in a player’s development, but his 200 point increase in his SLG percentage indicates he is driving the ball more as well.
Most recently, he is hitting .474 with a .737 SLG in his last ten games, with four walks against two k’s, good for an OPS of 1.248! This kid’s development has been off the charts, and has been one of the most impressive stories for the entire Mets farm system.
Mathis and Butera prove that having a defensive minded catcher is very important. There is a reason the Twins and Angels are always in contention and fighting for a playoff spot. Every player on the 25 man roster is important, and having a good defensive backup catcher enhances a team’s ability to succeed. If Cordero develops into a Jeff Mathis or Drew Butera type, a valuable backup catcher who calls a good game and is sound defensively, his development would be a success.
That being said, after seeing flashes of what he can bring to the game offensively, I am looking for more. If he continues to develop patience at the plate, to go along with his career .417 SLG, I do not see why we should settle for less.
Zach is also the author of metsvibe.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @zpetersel