Franchy Cordero was a last-minute addition to the Yankees’ roster for Opening Day, but he has already made his presence felt. With Giancarlo Stanton in the DH slot most nights, an injured Harrison Bader, and the increasingly apparent fall of Aaron Hicks, there was some room in the outfield equation. So far, he’s flashed some interesting things given the opportunity. Years after he was a bit of a boom-or-bust prospect, he looks like an early candidate to be a surprise contributor to this Yankees team.
Cordero has only had 15 plate appearances on the year going into Monday, so it doesn’t do much to look at any hard statistics quite yet. Most of what’s being said here has more to do with what’s going on with the roster, what we know about Cordero already, and the specifics of what we’ve seen from him so far.
He’s one of four Yankees with multiple homers on the young season, hitting a pair in their most recent series in Baltimore. For starters, both of these homers came off of cutters. Last season, he managed just a .307 wOBA against fastballs. Now, the two he crushed so far this year weren’t exactly the hardest of heaters, but it’s at least an encouraging sign.
Both homers also featured an easy one-handed follow-through, something mostly seen from him when waiting back on offspeed pitches, when he finds himself with more time. Again, this is just a handful of games we’re looking at here, but perhaps Cordero is gearing up a hair earlier to better react to fastballs. He was obviously getting beat quite often last year on them, and now he has already taken a pair of ‘em deep this season.
Here he is getting beat by a few heaters in 2022:
Now here he is against a few this year, with the one-handed follow-through:
It’s nothing huge, but any adjustment to try to do more damage against fastballs would be a good thing, and he’s already gotten some nice swings out of it. If he’s able to turn around a few more fastballs than usual, he could make a solid improvement on his 92 wRC+ from last year.
Of course, if you’re convinced Cordero can make even a small impact on this year’s club, the belief likely relies on his huge raw skills, particularly the power. He has always been known to possess world class pop, and has shown it by consistently ranking in the upper echelon of max exit velocity most years he’s spent time in the bigs. Something like that can’t be really be faked. He earned a 70-grade raw power upon graduating prospect status, and it came with good reason:
Perhaps the aspect working most toward Franchy’s benefit, however, is the current state of the Yankee roster. Bader is still a little bit away, and the Aaron Hicks situation seems to get closer to a breaking point with each passing day. It appears that Cordero has already surpassed Hicks on the depth chart, and could end up being his replacement if the Yankees do eventually cut ties with Hicks.
The kind of player that Franchy Cordero is feels set in stone for the most part. He has huge power, but there will always be a lot of swing-and-miss in the bat. But, late breakouts can happen, and if the Yankees can help him attack fastballs better, and make the most of his enticing profile, there could be something there. He likely wouldn’t be more than a fourth outfielder in an ideal situation, but if he continues to look the way he has been in 2023, he could make himself pretty useful in that role.