Offseason Prospect Overview: Cole Roederer

Cole Roederer (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Cole Roederer (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Season Review

coleroederer2020

After setting the AZL on fire during his 2018 pro debut, expectations were sky high for Cole Roederer heading into 2019. The organization showed confidence in him by installing the 19-year old as the everyday centerfielder for South Bend coming out of spring training. Many fans were expecting big numbers once again, but the Midwest League can be tough on any hitter, let alone a teenager. There were also some warning signs from 2018 where his contact rates and production faltered late that were masked in his overall numbers because of his red hot start and the small sample nature of short season ball. He would be susceptible to similar peaks and valleys throughout the 2019 season, and in the more difficult hitting environment his numbers suffered.

But don't be fooled into thinking Cole Roederer's 2019 was a disappointment. It was the expectations that were what were out of whack. His .224/319/.365 line doesn't look impressive but it actually translates into league average production, while his 16 SB were 7th among all teenagers in the league and his team-leading 9 HR were the T-4th. The youngster also impressed with his ability to range into the gaps while patrolling the outfield.

Positives

His skills were obvious. Roederer is not a big guy by any stretch, but he generates impressive bat speed and his hands and wrists are strong enough to drive the ball to all fields. When he barrels the ball he is capable of exit velocities above 100 MPH and there is still some room on his frame to add more muscle. He's never going to be a monster, but the Andrew Benintendi pre-draft comps are still viable. Roederer can develop into a 20 HR threat.


He also offers value on the basepaths on top of the power. Roederer swiped 16 bags in 21 tries. His top speed is only a tick above average but his effectiveness is driven by good jumps and acceleration. His instincts as a base stealer are solid. Unless he physically grows beyond what I expect he should retain enough speed to match his basestealing output to his power numbers.

How much of an impact Roederer will make will be tied closely to whether he remains viable in centerfield. Those same instincts and jumps on the basepaths translate to his defense as well which allows him to cover sufficient ground in the alleys. He won't be a Gold Glover out there but he should be able to stick.

His sub par arm is the one concern. Not only do his throws have no carry, but he currently struggles to get himself into good position prior to catching the ball, which leads to him taking too long to gather and get off a throw. If he doesn't work on getting the ball out of his hand more quickly opposing teams will run on him at will and it could force him to left.

Negatives

Consistency issues at the plate with a teenager in the Midwest League are to be expected and Roederer was certainly susceptible to slumps. I don't concern myself with that right now though. He's shown himself to be a hard worker with instincts in multiple facets of the game so there is plenty of reason to believe he'll make strides as he gains experience. His eye and overall plate discipline are strong for his age so his two-strike production should improve.


I already covered my worry about his arm strength above, so I will move on to what gives me pause in regards to his offensive game: the extent to which left-handed pitchers ate him up. He gets very pull happy (66.7%) and he has shown no ability to hit the ball with authority against them at this point in his career (.046 ISO in 2018, .030 in 2019). He'll need to develop a similar all-fields approach to the one he uses against righties. One silver lining is that his eye remains solid against them so he at least has a strong base to build off. There is still a lot of time for Roederer to make strides but the potential of being limited to a platoon role is something we need to track moving forward on his developmental path.

Summation

There is plenty to be excited about with Roederer. He can impact a game with a home run, a stolen base or by running down a ball in an outfield gap. He may have some limitations (arm, platoon concerns) but he has the tools to one day patrol the Wrigley Field outfield on a regular basis.

For a taste of what he can do when he is locked in:

2020 Outlook

The Midwest League is tough on hitters, but so is the Carolina League. Myrtle Beach in particular suppresses power numbers. So don't expect a breakout statistical season from Roederer in 2020. If he manages to reach double digit homers it should be considered a success.


I'll be focused on his approach against lefties and whether he can improve his contact rates now that he has a full year under his belt. Improvements in either area will be a big boost to his future outlook.

Comments

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  • Great Stuff!

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Thanks

  • Welcome back Michael. Good to hear from you. Solid start to your prospect review. There is a lot to like about Roderer. I have yet to see him play extensively and you noted his slumps. Do you have any information on the “why” of his slumps? Ground all heavy, pop ups or lazy fly balls? Slumps should be minimal from a guy with a quality swing.

    I think it will be noteworthy this season to see if he makes strides vs LHP. Time to clean that up. Not good for a 19-20 year old to already be a platoon candidate.

    Thanks and looking forward to the rest of your series.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    The slumps are not prolonged, but he hit plenty of 4-5 game stretches where he was just missing the ball, leading to a lot of lazy flys and/or grounders. He'd also get pull happy on occasion and roll over on a lot of pitches. Facing a lot of experienced college pitchers, he'd also struggle with offspeed when he got behind in the count. He'd maintain good zone discipline, but would swing through a lot of changes/breakers in the zone (or darting out of it) when he got to two strikes.

  • Saw this thread on Twitter yesterday and thought "this would make a good article on Cubs Den". And here we are.

    Welcome back, Michael. We all need a break sometimes. Been there, done that. You're our #44.

    On the minor-league topic, Theo was discussing the absurdly low pay in response to a fan's question this morning. He offered some insight, unsolicited IMO, that the Cubs are studying the issue and may have an announcement soon. He noted Toronto and how they have led the way in voluntarily increasing pay and benefits, specifically nutrition, and hinted the Cubs may be following that lead.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Thanks BP.

    Glad to hear the Cubs are planning to be ahead of the curve on the treatment of Minor Leaguers.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    That's good news about the minor leaguers. I've long thought that they should be treated better, not for the least reason is because they are our future and we should get the best out of them.
    Cole seems to be an ok prospect but I just can't get excited about him. There are holes in his swing and weak-ish arm and average to a bit higher speed, it sounds like many prospects we've had in the past.
    Thanks for the article Michael.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    One thing that probably should not be overlooked, and hopefully the Cubs being ahead of the curve on this might help, is what long-term good will might be brought to a parent club by making life a little easier financially on young, MiLB players as they are developing them,... I still look back with a lot of good will towards my graduate school and department head c1990 when they bent administration arms hard to bump our monthly salary/stipend up from ~$700/month to ~$1000/month, and let us get in on part of the faculty health-care plan.

    I make sure to this day that I get a contribution to the old college, earmarked to the grad school student support funds every December. And the increased loyalty and production among us grad students at the time increased pretty dramatically.

    A little bit of good will at the right time can pay back in multiples later.

  • Regarding Roederer, last spring while watching him taking BP, first thing to strike me was how young he looked. And I doubt the listing of 6.0 foot tall. In respect to that, time is certainly in his corner. I’m sure he will be gaining strength down the road. Seeing him in S Bend too, he held his own there.
    The other thing that I thought I noticed, was his swing seemed long. Hopefully he can learn to use all fields and become more Benetendi and less Corey Patterson.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Yeah, the 6’0” listing is almost certainly a couple of inches generous.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I wish I could post a picture with these comments. I am about 6' 2 1/2". In a picture with Roederer and myself last spring, it appeared that I was about 4" taller than him.

  • In reply to Tom U:

    That seems right. My estimate for him was 5'10"

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Just for reference, you can see that I am taller than Andy Weber (listed 6'1") and eye-to-eye with Riley Thompson (6'3") in other pictures.

  • Let's see ... one of our top prospects is a kid with a rag arm and not much power, who doesn't hit lefties well, but can steal a few bases. Sounds like the second coming of Juan Pierre. This doesn't exactly have me popping the champagne. Small wonder the Cubs minor-league organization is ranked so low.

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