Erik Cordier arrived in the big leagues Wednesday, overrun by adrenaline and armed with a triple-digit fastball. He entered the game for the San Francisco Giants in the seventh inning, making his MLB debut doing mop up duty in a 9-2 Giants loss. But mop-up duty quickly turned into a radar-gun wowing performance.
His first pitch: 100 mph. Then 100, 101, 101 and 100. Those five pitches equaled a strikeout of Colorado Rockies hitter Drew Stubbs. After the game, here's how Cordier described his performance, via CSN Bay Area:
“Probably the single most adrenaline I’ve ever had."
Cordier threw 25 pitches for an average of 99.9 mph. He threw 16 pitches that were 100 mph or faster, which, according to Eye on Baseball, ranks Cordier fifth in MLB this season for number of pitches topping 100 mph. And he did it in one inning. Aroldis Chapman leads baseball with 331. Carlos Martinez is fourth with 18.
If you're wondering why you've never heard of this fireball-throwing prospect before, there's good reason. Cordier isn't a prospect at all. He's 28 and was drafted in 2004. His journey to the big leagues has been 10 years in the making — including Tommy John surgery, two missed seasons and four organizations. He's not a hot-shot prospect. He's a guy who held on and finally made it.
Fastballs and long balls, we romanticize them both in this game. If you can throw 100-mph, there's going to be a team willing to take a chance on you. Cordier has struggled with control and command over the years. The Royals, who drafted him in the second round in 2004, cut ties. The Braves watched him go from rookie ball to Triple-A in their system from 2008 to 2012, but never higher.
He became a free agent in 2013 and signed with the Pirates. In Triple-A there, he posted a not-so-great 4.58 ERA, but did have 65 strikeouts in 53 innings. He was better this season, after he signed with the Giants. Cordier brought down his Triple-A ERA to 3.59, with 68 strikeouts in 52 innings for the Fresno Grizzlies.
He earned a September call-up from the Giants, because you can always use a guy in your bullpen who can throw a 100-mph fastball past someone. Still, it wasn't all good for Cordier on Thursday. He walked a batter and hit another. He didn't give up any hits or runs, which is promising, but his very first pitch did sail over Buster Posey's head to the backstop.
First-pitch jitters? Probably so.
“[It was] pretty intense to say the least. I really wanted to take it all in the first time. I’d like to be a little more consistent but I think that’ll come. Throwing in the minor leagues for over 10 years, it’s a whole new ballgame here.”
It's a new ballgame, sure. But 100-mph is the great equalizer. It will raise eyebrows whether you're a high-school kid, a college draft-pick, a top prospect or even an MLB relief pitcher 10 years in the making.
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