Minor league baseball players come in all shapes and sizes – it sounds cliché to say that, but looking at a whole team of players throughout the season, you notice the truth to the adage. Some guys are tall with long limbs designed for grace, while others are shorter and seem to be built more for power than finesse.
The extremes in physical size are not the only variety you find in a minor league clubhouse, however. You also have extremes in draft level and signing bonus figures. That’s not to say that certain players are prized on a greater scale than others, but the difference in draft level and the amount of be subsequent signing bonus can give the impression that some players need to work a little harder to prove that they, too, are worth the high figures doled out to their teammates.
Non-drafted free agent Cody Ferrell is one such player in that boat.
As a non-drafted free agent signed by the Indians in June, Ferrell was not granted the same high signing bonus numbers as his teammates who may have been drafted in the highest rounds of the draft. However, Ferrell said this difference does not discourage or deter him – it only makes him want to work harder to move through the system.
“It gives me a little more drive to work a little harder,” Ferrell said. “I don’t have a lot of money, so I’m just out here grinding.”
Ferrell made his professional debut in June with Mahoning Valley after being signed out of Oklahoma City University. While there, Ferrell hit .315 with six double, four triples, nine home runs, 32 RBI and 34 stolen bases.
He played 32 games with the Scrappers, hitting .279 with 31 hits, two doubles, one home run, three RBI, nine walks and 20 strikeouts before he joined the Captains in August after outfielder Logan Vick was promoted to Carolina. Moving quickly through the system as a non-drafted free agent has certainly been a dream come true for Ferrell.
“It feels great, you know,” Ferrell said of his climb through the system. “I’m living my dream. And to see some progress already, it feels good. I kind of started off a little slow, but got used to it.”
Ferrell, 5’10” and 195 pounds, has hit .189 in 11 games since joining Lake County. He has seven hits, one RBI, two walks and 11 strikeouts. He is an assuredly scrappy player, seemingly unafraid to assert himself on the field.
“I’ve always played like this, I’ve always been decent at pretty much everything,” Ferrell said. “I always play hard, I always run hard; if somebody gets in my way, I’ll run them over. That’s the mentality I was kind of raised with.”
His power demeanor can be attributed to the time he also spent as a football player, as he was a running back and wide receiver. He said that experience lends itself to his current mentality on the field, asserting himself and being unafraid to shy away from contact.
Manager Scooter Tucker was quick to extoll Ferrell as a player, saying he greatly appreciates the newcomers approach to the game.
“I love the way he plays,” Tucker said. “He does a lot of things for me well. He gets an extremely good break on the ball, he jumps on the ball. He’s in motion as soon as the ball’s had contact. I don’t know if everybody else sees what I see. He’s very good, he’s very aware of each situation.”
“He knows how to do everything. He’s hit the ball the other way for us, he’s bunted for us, he’s taken extra bases. I like him,” Tucker continued.
As the home season for the Captains comes to a close on Friday and the team plays their last game of 2013 on Monday in Bowling Green, Kentucky, fans do not have too much time to take in the skills of Ferrell on the field. However, after demonstrating his abilities since joining in June, it is probably safe to say that he will be back with the Captains in 2014 to continue to hone his skills and advance himself.
When asked if there was any doubt in his mind that he would one day take the field with big league players drafted in the early rounds, Ferrell responded with confidence.
“Absolutely no doubt,” Ferrell said. “I’m going to pass them up. [Confidence] helps you play good; you’ve got to have some confidence.”
Further playing time and experience can only serve to improve Ferrell. Tucker perhaps said it best when he described the 23 year old:
“I mean, he’s a baseball player,” Tucker said. “I don’t know how to explain it. There’s guys that have tools, there’s guys that have talent, but they’re not baseball players sometimes. This kid is a baseball player.”