Baseball | Manatee High product Cord Sandberg set for true minor-league debut

jlembo@bradenton.comMay 27, 2014 

Cord Sandberg has a hunch where he is headed.

He just isn't completely sure.

The Manatee alum is currently a minor-leaguer in the Philadelphia Phillies' system and said he is "99.2" percent sure he will report to the organization's short-season New York-Penn League team in Williamsport during the next few weeks.

"They haven't printed out the rosters yet," Sandberg said, "so nothing is set in stone."

What Sandberg does know is he is more equipped to handle his second year of pro baseball than he was his first. Drafted last June by the Phillies in the third round, the left-handed outfielder went from his Bradenton home to the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team, batting .207 in 48 games.

This time around, he has a spring training under his belt plus a stay at the Phillies' facility in the [SoftReturn]

Dominican Republic. He is currently in extended spring training at the organization's minor-league complex in Clearwater and has Sundays off, which allows him to come home occasionally to attend church and eat dinner with his family.

"It was four straight weeks every day, getting after it. It was a lot of baseball, and I enjoyed it," Sandberg said of his first spring training. "I thought I made strides from last year."

Sandberg is hopeful his guesswork is correct. Unlike the GCL, which plays its games during broiling daytime temperatures in front of next to no fans, New York-Penn League teams play most of their games at night.

And because Williamsport is less than three hours from Philadelphia, there is a good chance there will be plenty of Phillies fans on hand trying to get a glimpse of the team's future.

"It would be nice to go up there and be in minor-league baseball atmosphere and feel like you're a minor-league baseball player," said Sandberg, ranked the Phillies' 11th-best prospect by MLB.com. "In the GCL, there are maybe 10 people at the games, and they're mostly scouts. It's going to be nice to play some night games and maybe in front of some people."

Some other locals playing minor-league pro ball include:

GRANDEN GOETZMAN -- The Palmetto product is having a terrific season with the Tampa Bay Rays' low single-A team in Bowling Green, Ky., where he is hitting .331 in 41 games. Goetzman has four home runs and 18 RBIs and is slugging .528 for the Hot Rods. He is third in the Midwest League in hitting, tied for first in doubles (16) and fourth in hits (54).

CORRELLE PRIME -- Another former Hurricane, Prime has flashed some power during his first stint with a full-season affiliate. Prime is with the Colorado Rockies' South Atlantic League team in Asheville, N.C., where he has hit 10 home runs, tied for the league lead, and driven in 30 runs in 43 games. Prime has cracked 14 doubles, tied for fourth in the league.

ZACK LARSON -- Another local in the Midwest League, Larson, who helped Lakewood Ranch reach the state semifinals in 2012, is with the Minnesota Twins' affiliate in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Larson, currently on the seven-day disabled list, is hitting .292 with 19 RBIs, a home run and .348 on-base percentage.

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