The Johnson City Cardinals were explosive offensively during their championship 2016 season. Johnson City led the Appalachian League with a .281 batting average, .350 on-base percentage and was second in OPS at .752.
Four Cardinals players earned Appalachian League All-Star honors. One of the four All-Stars is my selection as Johnson City’s Position Player of the Year. Allen Cordoba is the pick after winning his second straight batting title, hitting .362 in 50 games for Johnson City.
Cordoba has turned into one of the most promising prospects in the St. Louis’ minor league system. After getting signed to fill a filler-type of role, Cordoba has taken the opportunity and ran with it. Literally. In addition to his work at the plate, Cordoba stole 22 bases in 26 attempts in 2016, which led the team and was third in the league.
Two things that really stood out to me while watching Cordoba this season were his ability to make contact and his ability to play shortstop effectively, which is arguably one of the most important positions on the field.
In terms of contact, Cordoba was the best on the team in simply putting the ball in play as he struck out just 19 times in 217 plate appearances (8.8 percent). The 20-year old also walked more times (21) than he struck out.
In the field, Cordoba has all the tools to be a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop in the future. He has the range and the arm to get the job done. With that being said, he did make 17 errors in 50 games, but I think most of those were due to him getting to balls that most wouldn’t get to, along with inexperience. I look for him to improve in both of those areas as he progresses.
In addition to his league all-star honors, Cordoba was the Cardinals organization's system-wide Player of the Month for July, when he compiled a 13-game hitting streak and batted a cool .423.
As I mentioned earlier, three other Cardinals received Appy League All-Star acclaim - J.R. Davis, Matt Fiedler and Andrew Knizner. All three players could make a case to be considered for this honor due to their numbers, but the position Cordoba plays along with the fact that he is just 20 years old compared to all three of the others who had played college baseball at Power 5 conference schools gives Cordoba the edge.
All three batted .319 or better. Though Knizner was the lowest, the catcher topped the Cardinals in home runs (six) and RBI (42). Fiedler paced Johnson City in doubles (20) and Davis scored a team-leading 40 runs and was second to Cordoba’s 22 steals with 11.
It was not an easy decision, but I feel Cordoba was not only the top position player for Johnson City this season but is a definite possibility to play shortstop in St. Louis in the future.
Link to master article with all 2016 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selection as the system-wide Rookies and Players of the Year, coming after the Players of the Year at the other five levels of play in the US.
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