If you don’t know the name Cody Decker out in San Diego, don’t worry. He’s flown under the radar for most of his professional career. The former UCLA Bruin has done everything to earn a shot at first base for the big club, short of demanding a trade. The 22nd round pick in the 2009 MLB First Year Player’s Draft has consistently put up solid numbers throughout his minor league career, and he has exactly ZERO big league at-bats to show for it. Even after another successful season of blasting home runs, he didn’t even receive a well-deserved September call-up for a team that was historically one of the worst hitting franchises in big league history in 2014.
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As co-editor of Friars on Base, it’s clear to see that Cody Decker has been both a fan favorite and a solid player for the organization. So what has kept the 27-year old from getting his chance? Well, for one, he’s been blocked by less than stellar talent at the Major League level, by Yonder Alonso, and the recently traded Yasmani Grandal. Grandal led the Friars in home runs last season with a whopping 15. You read that right, 15. And Decker? Try 27 to go along with 79 driven in for Triple-A El Paso.
Now you might sit back and say, “Well, that’s the Pacific Coast League, everyone hits there.” That fact can’t be denied, but in his previous stops throughout the Padres’ farm system, he’s put up seasons of 15, 28, 15, 29, 25, and 19 to go along with last season’s 27. We’re not talking about a Mark Reynolds type of player either. In six seasons of professional baseball, Decker’s triple-slash line is .268/.350/.530. Yonder Alonso‘s during his first five big league season? .271/.334/.395.
Unfortunately for Decker, with all of the wheelings and dealings of new Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, bringing in impact bats Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton, the team is now far-too right-handed. Alonso hits lefty, while Decker hits from the right-hand side of the dish. But what should make Decker a viable candidate to be considered for the big league roster coming out of spring training, is his versatility. Last season alone, Decker played 93 games at first base, 15 at third base, 11 games behind the dish, and he even tossed a scoreless frame, while also serving as the team’s DH for 14 games.
Other obstacles that stand between Decker and a spot on the Padres big league roster, are other first base/outfield candidates. The Padres have a slew of outfielders on their current roster, and they’ll have some tough decisions to make before the team heads for San Diego from spring training in Arizona. Players such as Tommy Medica, who saw substantial big league time last season, along with Alex Dickerson, and Jake Goebbert, to go with the aforementioned Alonso. Unless Decker has the spring of his life, he may very well find himself back at Triple-A El Paso, stuck behind a glut of first baseman types.
Decker is a free agent at the conclusion of the 2015 season, and his best bet may be to find an opportunity with another organization. It’s not for a lack of effort or results, but when you’ve been through four GMs at the big league level, sometimes you just get lost in the shuffle.