Cortez was an immediate signing by the Tigers at the outset of the 2008 international signing period, inking just one day after the session opened. The Tigers were rumored to have given Cortez a low six-figure bonus.
Debuting in the VSL in 2009 as a 17-year old, Cortez struggled with the bat in his first exposure to pro ball, hitting just .212/.292/.313. He did manage to slug eleven doubles and two home runs in 61 games.
Returning to the VSL in 2010, Cortez upped his season line to a more respectable .267/.342/.383 with 12 doubles and a career high four home runs. Cortez also showed more consistency with the glove making more routine plays look routine.
The Tigers started Cortez out in the VSL again in 2011 before bringing him stateside to help with the GCL roster around mid-summer. While in the VSL, the now 19-year old Cortez hit .256/.329/.386, a disappointing dip from his 2010 season.
Cortez is an intriguing player that relies more on projection than present skills to establish any kind of prospect status.
Blessed with potential plus defensive tools, Cortez could be an outstanding defender at second base. The game still moves very quickly for him, but he shows very good hands, good range and a strong arm from the keystone. He stands in well on the double-play and gets his throws off quickly and with zip. While he has seen some time at shortstop, his actions aren't as natural at the position and he would be stretched to stay there defensively.
Cortez has good hands at the plate as well, working the bat through the zone with ease. He lacks present strength and as a result his quick hands are not able to generate more than average bat speed. He has some early signs of pitch recognition skills but he is an aggressive hitter that will swing through a lot of pitches.
The addition of strength and a more selective approach in the box could help him project to hit slightly better, but most scout see a below-average hitter.
Because of the lack of strength and the raw mechanics of his swing, Cortez lacks power projection from the right side. He could hit 20-25 doubles and a handful of home runs annually at his peak.
Despite good range at second base, Cortez does not have more than average or solid-average speed. He doesn't get good jumps on the bases and as a result is rarely asked to steal.
The tool-based defensive potential gives intrigue to Cortez's game, but the bat will have to catch up in a significant way for him to become a prospect. If that happens, Cortez could become a glove-first second baseman.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% R VSL Tigers 157 .229 8 4 19 36 10 .303 .357 R GCL Tigers 98 .286 9 1 6 20 7 .346 .429
Cortez has been healthy and durable since signing with the Tigers, playing in almost all of his club's games every year in the organization.
Now in the GCL, the Tigers will likely keep Cortez stateside for the Fall Instructional League and could bring him back for minor league spring training in 2012. In addition to general on-field instruction, the biggest thing Cortez needs while stateside is the benefit of a serious professional workout routine to try and add strength to his offensive game.
Barring a major step forward over the off-season, Cortez is likely destined for a return trip to the GCL in 2012. His nifty glove work could earn him some brief trials at other levels should injuries creep into the picture.
Cortez is a long way from becoming a viable big league prospect. His offensive development will dictate his rise through the organization. Fans that get the opportunity to see him over the next couple of years should enjoy watching his defensive abilities at second base.
TigsTown has gone social! You can now follow TigsTown.com and the TigsTown staff on Twitter and Facebook! For all the latest stories and forum updates, follow @ScoutTigers. For the latest from Managing Editor Mark Anderson, follow @TigsTownMark, and you can follow Executive Editor Paul Wezner @TigsTown. You can also find TigsTown on Facebook, just seach for TigsTown.com!