Wait, his name is Cord? That was the first thing to pop into many a fans mind when Cord Phelps was called upon to take Manny Machado's spot on the Orioles roster for the time being. He is no Manny but is one of those "happy to be here" kind of guys that, upon further review, I think I'm happy to have on the team. Ya know, until Manny is back.
Name: Robert Cord Phelps Number: 38
Born: January 23, 1987 (27 years old) in Santa Barbara, CA
Height: 6'1" Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: Both Throws: Right
Drafted: 3rd round in 2008 by the Cleveland Indians
School: Santa Barbara High School (Santa Barbara, CA)
Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA)
Contract: $500,000 salary in 2014
Walk-up song: "It's a Long Way to the Top" By: AC/DC
It's quite possible that, in Phelps, the Orioles have just added their smartest player to the club. (I'm sure Darren O'Day may beg to differ). He grew up in the Golden State and attended Santa Barbara High School. There he was "the nerd" and "the jock" all rolled into one. In the classroom he would take home honors such as National AP Scholar and National Merit Scholar as well as awards from Bank of America and his high school for academic achievement and had a GPA of 4.83. But he was only his class' salutatorian, so he could have done better.
As with most future big league players he excelled on the the diamond in high school. Throughout his career he was named to all-league and all-division teams. In the summer after his junior year he played games with the St. Louis Cardinals scout team. His senior year he led his team in nearly every offensive category including batting average (.415), RBI (24), on base percentage (.581) and a slew of other things. The combination of his success in the field and on the report card earned him his school's Scholar-Athlete award.
Despite an outstanding high school career, Phelps did not garner huge recognition from professional scouts. He went undrafted and was set for college. So, where do you go in California if you are incredibly smart and a gifted athlete. There are many options; maybe USC or UCLA, but for Phelps, one stood out above them all; Stanford University.
"You can't beat the quality of the baseball program and the academics," he told GoStanford.com.
As a freshman, Phelps played in about half of the Cardinal's games but would only post a .196 batting average as he adjusted to NCAA play. He split his time between second and third base, an ability that would eventually help him in professional baseball. He would do the same the following season, even adding innings at shortstop.
His junior season was where he stood out. He was named the Most Improved Player at Stanford and selected to the All-Pac-10 team. He did so by smashing 13 home runs and 58 RBI and managing the highest fielding percentage of his collegiate career (.975).
This was enough to beckon a call from the professional ranks. The Indians selected him with their third round selection. He decide to forego his senior year in exchange for a chance at the big-time, signing with Cleveland.
He was sent to the Gulf Coast League for one day; that's not an exaggeration. He had one start and three at-bats there. He went 0-for-3 and was then sent to short season Mahoning Valley where he raked for 35 games, hitting .312 with 10 doubles and two home runs in 25 games.
The following season he began at High-A Kinston and that is where he would stay all season as he struggled to find his way. The power he had shown at short season was gone. Depite playing a full season there, he only managed four home runs, equating to a .363 slugging percentage. However, he was getting on base at a decent clip of .386.
Even with the struggles he was still moved up to double-A Akron and this where his talents started to show real promise. Phelps split that 2010 season between Akron and Triple-A Columbus. In Akron had a line of .296/.346/.397; not bad. But he really shined in Columbus, slashing .317/.386/.506.
The success continued in 2011 as he did well again in Triple-A, earning promotion to Cleveland in June of that year. He wasn't so hot there, managing to hit just .155 in 71 at-bats and sat on the bench for much of his time in the majors that season. Despite this he was still named the Indians' 15th best prospect; his highest ranking ever.
He would continue to bounce between Cleveland and Columbus for the next two seasons; always playing much better for the Clippers than the Indians. At different points, Baseball American recognized him as one best defensive second basemen in the Indians system, as well as having good discipline at the plate.
This past November, the Indians were trying to clear space on the 40-man roster to protect certain players from the Rule 5 Draft. In this process, Cleveland had to designate Phelps for assignment. Five days later, the Orioles claimed him off waivers the same day they grabbed Brad Brach from the Padres.
Phelps has spent almost all of 2014 with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. There he has batted just .258 but in the three weeks leading up to his recent promotion he had found his minor league swing, averaging .329 with three doubles, a triple and a home run in that span.
On top of that, he was recommended to Orioles manager Buck Showalter by scouts and Tides manager Ron Johnson. Not to mention Phelps is a solid defender who provides depth at each infield position and could probably play some outfield in the bigs too if given the chance. And he has pulled the Chris Davis times three; the Tides have made the call to the bullpen for Phelps on three different occasions. He sounds like the type of guy that Birdland could become very fond of right away.
He is out of options and will likely be the one moved once Machado is ready to return, but Showalter and Dan Duquette have been known to do crazy things. With September just around the corner, things can only get crazier.