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Atlanta Braves Top 30 Prospects: No. 25, Erik Cordier

25. Erik Cordier, RHP
B/T: R/R 2011 Age: 25 Ht: 6'4" Wt: 230
2010: (AA)
25 G, 21 GS, 135.2 IP, 3.71 ERA, 4.6 BB/9, 7.5 K/9, 0.2 HR/9
(AAA) 2 G, 2 GS, 8 IP, 5.62 ERA, 7 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Erik Cordier was drafted by the Royals in the second round of the 2004 draft out of high school. Cordier pitched well as a member of the Royals system between rookie league and A-ball, but he missed two full seasons due to injuries, including Tommy John surgery, so apparently they gave up on him. The Braves acquired him while he was out from the surgery and put him to work in 2008.

After a bit of a rehab season in 2008, Cordier made 25 starts at A+ Myrtle Beach in 2009, posting a 3.87 ERA, but only 88 strikeouts to 74 walks in 121 innings. He also had a career high 1 HR/9. Despite this, the Braves continued to move him up by having him begin 2010 at AA Mississippi, where he saw his walks and strikeouts improve, but they still weren't great. He also improved on his home run rate by allowing just three homers.

Cordier has a great fastball that can touch the high-90s but sits mid-90s, a plus changeup and a decent breaking ball. If he continues to work on the breaking pitch, he has the arsenal to succeed as a starter, but his injury history puts that into question. Many have already written him off as a future reliever due to this, and his explosive fastball means he would more than likely be great there, but if he stays healthy there is no reason he can't make it in a rotation.

However, I did not say he would be overly successful in a rotation. Control will continue to be a problem for him, and he needs to improve his strikeout rate as a result. While he did improve it in the jump to AA, which is impressive, it still has a ways to go. Also, Cordier is surrounded by similar prospects in the Braves system, and his margin for error is slim to none. Added to that, Cordier will be 25 during the 2011 season and must show the ability to stick in the majors as soon as the end of the season if he wants to remain in the Braves organization. If not, he could be shipped out. If he sticks, it will be in the bullpen. If not, he has value as a starting prospect.

Three Things to Look For in 2011: 1) Improved K/BB 2) Majors Debut 3) Health
Destination in 2011: Majority at AAA; cup of coffee in Majors unless injuries call for it earlier
ETA: 2011
Ceiling: #5 Starter or Late Innings Reliever
My Prediction: Late Innings Reliever

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.