I’m going to publish a series of interviews with various players in the Phillies organization. The interviews were conducted by Steve Potter, an author whose book I plugged last season.
Steve and I were going to enter into a joint venture for a book this season. The premise was to expand on his previous compilation of the 2016 season, and attempt to provide similar coverage of the 2017 season, interspersed with the personal experiences of a dozen or more players in the organization.
Steve had conducted introductory interviews with most of the players, but some concerns arose and we decided to shelve the project. But, we still have the interviews. They provide a different look at the players. Steve has already posted them on his blog, http://www.facebook.com/Clearwatersprngbaseball/ , so I asked if I could publish them here to share with you.
Spotlight : Cord Sandberg
Cord Sandberg was the Phillies 3rd round draft choice in the June 2013 draft. He was selected out of Manatee High School in Bradenton, Florida and was also a highly accomplished quarterback while in high school. Cord had a football scholarship to attend Mississippi State but decided to forgo college and sign with the Phillies.
During his high school football career Cord led his team to a state championship during his junior year and the club was ranked # 1 nationally during his senior season. He chose to play baseball as he also projected to have great success in that sport as well. Sandberg’s initial contract with the Phillies included a clause that will pay for his college education in addition to his signing bonus.
He began his pro baseball career with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in the summer of 2013 playing 48 games that summer. The close proximity to home allowed family members to attend many games. In 2014 he went to short season Williamsport. 2015 was his first full season assignment with the Lakewood Blue Claws where he hit .255 with 5 home runs and 59 RBI’s in 499 at bats. In 2016 he was a member of the Clearwater Threshers, however, his season was cut short when he was hit by a pitch in the face in early August. This year he opened the season with Lakewood and has gotten off to a very hot start hitting .367 in his first 49 at bats. He’s still just 22 years old and has plenty of time to climb the baseball ladder. Here’s a question and answer session I did with him recently.
Cord, first off, great start to the season. I watched you in spring training as well and you were hitting the ball well. Were you surprised at being assigned to Lakewood again to start the season?
“I was disappointed to start in Lakewood but at the same time I was understanding of the talent we have in the organization and that guys were where they deserved to be.”
You suffered a scary injury last summer when you were hit by a pitch, any lingering repercussions from that?
“Yes, getting hit in the face was crazy but it happened at the best possible time. I was able to have surgery and recover in time to get my training in to be ready for the season. With my protective flap on my helmet I feel good and am back to feeling normal in the box.”
I read that you had incorporated into your contract funding for college. Have you been able to attend classes at all during the off seasons?
“I haven’t done anything with school yet. Just have to play that year by year depending on where I am in my career.”
In the 2015 winter season you played in Australia, what was that experience like and what did you enjoy most about it?
“Playing in Australia was one of the best times of my life. Getting to play with guys from different walks of life and being able to travel the country while playing a game I love was an unforgettable experience. I enjoyed being around a different culture for a few months and hearing the accents. HaHa!”
You are a young man of deep faith, how has that helped you in daily life and also the stress of being a professional ballplayer?
‘My Faith has been and will be the most important thing in my life. Without it I would be lost. The game of baseball has so much failure and can be stressful on guys who play it. To know that the Lord has a plan for my life and that He has me right where He wants me takes all the worry away. On and off the field I’m doing the best I can to glorify him with the talent he has given me.”
I have to ask since you were such an exceptional talent in football and you are just 22 years old, if baseball doesn’t work out will you consider going to college and playing football? At what point would you make that consideration?
“If it’s not in the Lord’s plan for me to be a major leaguer than I would definitely want to play college football. I don’t really have a time table but I’ve always said as long as I think I can be a major leaguer and a team wants me to play for them I’m gonna play baseball. My mindset is that I can still play in the big leagues so I’m playing baseball.”
This year you have gotten off to a good start, is there anything different in your approach, are you more relaxed for some reason?
“My approach this year has been to hit the ball in the air and try and do damage every time I step in the box. I want my barrel to be in the zone as long as it can be.”
Are you a goal oriented person? If so what is your goal for this season?
“My goals this year are like any other year. Make improvements and become a better player. Obviously the main focus is getting better as a hitter and continue to become a better ball player.”
You become Rule 5 eligible this coming off season, do you consider that as a crossroads or milestone marker in your baseball career?
“Like I said before, if I think I can play in the major leagues and a team wants me to play for them I will continue to play baseball regardless of the rule 5.”
You won a minor league gold glove for the 2015 campaign, have you always been an exceptional fielder?
“Yes, I would say defense has always been a great part of my game. The bat isn’t always going to be there so I take pride in being an elite outfielder day in day out.”
Any player you try to emulate?
“Kevin Kiermaier is a guy I like to watch and who I would love to play against some day.”
What should Phillies fans know about you in regards to how you play the game?
“One thing people should know about me is that every time I step on the field I’m playing for an audience of one, that being Jesus Christ, my Lord and savior. Whatever I do in this life on and off the field I’m giving everything I have to be successful and I’m doing it for Him. My dad always told me, don’t be a “what if” guy. In 20 years I don’t want to say what if I would have done this, what if I would have done that. When my career in sports is over whether that’s 2 years or 20 I want to be able to say I gave it everything I had and don’t have any regrets.”
Thanks to Cord for doing the interview with me, I wish him the best of luck and truly hope he gets to the major leagues!