Lakewood outfielder Cord Sandberg is off to a quiet start this season in the Class A Sally League. The 20-year-old, through 24 games, is batting .235 with three doubles, eight RBI with a stolen base.
Praised by coaches for his toolsy skill set, his leadership qualities and his professionalism, the Phillies have high hopes for the 2013 third round draft selection.
Recently, I spoke with Cord about his game, his manager, his roommate and more. Read ahead for that full interview with the lefty batting Florida native, who is not related to Phils manager Ryne Sandberg.
-I’ve heard some great feedback on you with the coaches citing you as a leader for the team. When you’ve the coaches really believing in you and maybe teammates looking to you, even at 20 years old, as a leader, what does that mean to you?
That definitely means a lot. As far as other players looking up to me, I mean playing quarterback in high school, there are leadership qualities that kind of comes with playing that position. You know, baseball..I’m in the outfield, I just try to- I’m not really a vocal guy. I’m not really a big pump-up guy. I try to play the game the right way and I try to lead by example and hopefully, that shows with my effort on the field.
-If you were going to scout your own game, what would you tell me?
I’m an outfield guy and I think my arm is strong enough to make the throws I have to. It’s not unbelievable by any means, but I feel it’s good enough to get the job done out there. From a hitting standpoint, I’m not- in little league I was a power guy, but you know as I’ve developed, I’ve kind of grown to being a gap-to-gap guy and I can be a power guy, but I’m not really focused on home runs and things like that. I’m just trying to hit the ball hard and go gap-to-gap.
I’m trying to improve on the base paths, because speed wise, I’m fast enough to steal bags, but it’s more than that with base running. It’s all about getting jumps and different things. So, I mean, five tools are there, but I’ve just got to develop them and see what happens in the future here and try to improve every year.
-So with the goal to improve and get things clicking, how do you feel about how you’ve performed as a pro thus far? Is there any level of dissatisfaction?
No. I’ve been happy with what I’ve been able to do. I definitely didn’t come into the game thinking I was going to dominate or have all these flashy numbers right away. And, you know, just talking with the guys in our organization, Shawn (Williams) and (Chad) Tracy our hitting guy, it’s really just trusting the process and not really getting too caught up in numbers. Obviously, it’s nice to hit .300 and do this or that. But it’s more so about trusting to process and just finding a way to barrel stuff up and have confidence at the plate. The (big) numbers are nice, but they’re a byproduct of doing it the right way.
-Your manager this year with Lakewood Shawn Williams follows you up a level from short-season A level Williamsport. Is that helpful for you to stick with the same manager?
It’s kind of nice because Shawn, I was with him last year in Williamsport. So, to have the same guy, obviously, you know, whatever manager you have, you get to know him and try to do what you can, but having the same guy, Shawn knows the game, so I try to pick his brain and we all do. It’s really good having a guy that always helping with your confidence and he’s a young guy which helps him relate to us too.
-What’s your excitement level to be playing in a full-season league this year?
I think we’re all pretty excited. I’m staying with Derek Campbell and Rhys Hoskins, we’re staying with the same host family, so I’ve been around those guys a lot and we’re just definitely excited about playing baseball over the summer here in Lakewood up and down the South Atlantic League. We’ve got a good group of guys, good camaraderie with this bunch and I’m excited to be in the dugout, cheering these guys on and just feeding off each other.
-I asked your teammate Rhys Hoskins, “Who is fun? Who should I talk to?” He told me you. Why? What’s so fun about you?
(Laughs). I can’t say. I’m not sure. You’d have to ask him that. You know, we stayed with the same host family last year with Williamsport and I have a great friendship with Rhys. He’s an absolutely great guy and is a great player. We have a lot of things in common, we get along, we laugh at the same stupid stuff, we kind of have the same view on baseball and life in general, so he’s a great guy to spend my time with.