Ryan Cordell, the Rangers' 11th round pick out of Liberty University in 2013, is switching positions -- despite having been an outfielder up to this point in his college and professional career, Cordell's primary position going forward will be shortstop.
We don't do a special post for every position switch in the organization, but this is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, Cordell is someone who climbed up the organizational rankings in 2014, putting up a .318/.385/.530 slash line while splitting the year between Hickory and Myrtle Beach. The LSB Community Prospect Rankings had him at #11 this offseason, and most of the rankings I've seen this offseason have him in the 10-15 range in the Rangers system -- not a top prospect, but a noteworthy guy with some value and potential nonetheless.
Secondly, a corner outfielder switching to the middle infield is unusual, especially for a guy who turns 23 at the end of the month. The switch is usually the other way around, from a more taxing defensive position to an easier one. Cordell is a guy who came out of college with the report being that he had tools and athleticism, but hadn't been able to translate them into baseball skills, particularly offensively (his slashline as a college junior was .261/.310/.391 in the Big South). The Rangers apparently thing that his athleticism and arm will translate well from right field to the more difficult position of shortstop.
Third, its an interesting look at how the Rangers see the depth in their system. With Rougned Odor in the majors, Luis Sardinas traded, Jurickson Profar on the shelf for the year, Odubel Herrera in Philly, and Hanser Alberto likely in AAA, the Rangers suddenly have space available at their MIF positions, particularly at high-A or AA. This is a dramatic shift from just a couple of years ago, when the Rangers had four MIFs -- Sardinas, Odor, Herrera and Alberto -- who all should have been at high-A, with the end result being that Alberto and Herrera started the year at AA, where they were overmatched.
But while the Rangers' middle infield situation is more shallow than it has been in some time, the outfield is crowded. AA Frisco -- where Cordell will likely start the season -- has Nomar Mazara and Nick Williams likely manning the corner spots to start 2015, while Jake Skole and Chris Garia battle it out for playing time in center, while Lewis Brinson and Zach Cone lurk in high-A. Cordell moving to shortstop is, in part, an acknowledgement that there's a glut of outfielders in the system, with a corresponding lack of middle infielders.
Cordell is one of the prospects whose progress I am really looking forward to watching this year, and if he can be a serviceable shortstop, that would simply give him that much more value and versatility as he works his way up the ladder.