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The theory goes that if you can play at the Double-A level and be consistent, you can go to the majors. You have to be good, but you also have to be willing to work harder than you have. As the levels go up, so do the expectations.
But Cody Decker brushes that off. He does so with a mix of cool confidence, extreme focus, and a whole lot of humor.
“Pitchers aren’t necessarily better, just more polished. They know what they are trying to do and they are very good at executing it. But honestly baseball is baseball, no matter where you play it. But as my teammate Crash told me: I’m just happy to be here, hope I can help the ballclub.”
You’re getting to know him quickly. And there’s no overstating his energy and attitude can make a difference in a sport that requires daily maximum drive.
Decker, 25, suffered a sprained ankle in May, his first career injury, which caused him to miss three months.
“The injury was unfortunately pretty rough, and I don’t think I fully recovered for the remainder of the season. I was however extremely happy to get back on the field and somewhat salvage the season I missed the majority of,” he said. “My team had a great playoff run, winning the Texas League, and I’m happy that I was able to play a major role.”
He played in 49 games for the Double-A San Antonio Missions knocking in 38 runs, with 14 home runs. In 2010 he played for the Advanced-A Lake Elsinore Storm, where he put up career numbers. He finished the season with 90 RBI, 28 home runs, and worked 60 walks.
The Padres system has vastly improved this off-season through a number of significant trades. It is easy to get left behind when new talent is developing every year, all the time. Decker has the benefit of versatility. He embraces the challenge of a possible position change, something the Padres should be pleased to hear.
“I happy to play any position anyone asks. In college I was listed as a C/1B/LF/DH/OF. And I still find it cruel that 3B didn’t make it onto my 11 cent college baseball card. I played 3B in winter ball, for all 3 hours I played there, and have no problem moving around. As for DH-ing, I have no problem with that either.”
Defensively the first baseman is confident, though he is well aware of the criticism in that area.
“I have never received very much credit for my defensive ability. And I highly doubt anyone will be tooting that horn anytime soon. I completely disagree with those nay-sayers, but there is always room for improvement,” he said, then adds, “At the plate, a few less strike outs would be nice.”
He credits hitting coach’s Bob Skube and Tom Tornincasa (named the Padres Minor League Coach of the Year for 2011) for helping him the most in his development.
“A couple of great, not just hitting coach’s, but all around baseball coach’s.”
Like many minor league players trying to make it to the majors, Decker is part of the Twitter presence of prospects. His content is never boring, rarely small talk. He’s a straight shooter. And with trademark humor he explains his Twitter game. And his (apparent) reaction to his ranking on the Baseball Digest Twitter Twenty.
“I rarely take things too seriously, and my amazing Twitter account is no different. I have fun with it. Usually telling jokes and making fun of things. Getting a chance to interact with fans is fun, somewhat get my name out there and let them know that I’m not Jaff Decker. My blog is more or less the same. Just an insight of what Minor League baseball is like. Much like everything else, I have fun with it. As for the top 20, it is a suspect list at best listing me at 12….. The writer of this list should be ashamed and I hope they miss several hours of sleep over this….. I mean, come on, 12?!”
It’s up to you discern what part of that he’s serious about.
What he is serious about is the joy of baseball. And hitting, hitting, hitting.
“I’m like a 7 year old, hitting is my favorite thing to do, and as long as I’m doing that, you’ll never hear a complaint from me.”
Topics: Attitude, Brushes, Career Numbers, Crash, Lake Elsinore Storm, Left Behind, Little Bit, Majors, Padres, Pitchers, Position Change, Remainder, Salvage, San Antonio Missions, Teammate, Three Months, Versatility, Walks, Whole Lot, Wild Side