We caught up with former Liberty Baseball player Ryan Cordell who is currently playing for the Frisco RoughRiders, the double A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Ryan is the 11th ranked prospect in the Rangers organization and is having a solid 2016 season.
During his time at Liberty, Ryan helped lead the Flames to a Big South title and a NCAA regional. During his 2013 and final season in a Flames uniform Ryan batted .261 with 6 home runs and 40 RBI’s. He was drafted in the 11th round of the 2013 draft by the Texas Rangers.
Ryan is batting .295 with 12 home runs and 67 hits in 227 at bats for Frisco. He has been the everyday starter in centerfield for the RoughRiders and has the speed and the arm strength that projects him to stay at the position as he continues develop.
Ryan was nice enough to give me some of his time before his Texas League game tonight against the Corpus Christi Hooks. Having been following Ryan and the RoughRiders for the last couple months there was one thing I had to ask about to begin our conversation…
I have to start by asking if you’ve had the chance to check out the lazy river that is now just beyond the outfield wall at Dr. Pepper Ballpark? (The RoughRider’s home ballpark)
Ryan: “My first day was yesterday in the lazy river. We had an early 11am game so we got there around 2pm, jumped in the lazy river and hung out for about an hour and it was awesome. I think it’s 180ft long and kind of wraps around. I would say its the best view in the ballpark for sure. I scoped out a spot that if I wasn’t playing in the game and was watching that would be pretty awesome. It brings in more fans and there are more fans that are about to be out in the right center field area so its pretty cool to look up there and see that. Its very unique, no other ballpark has it so its cool to be at a place that has something unique like that.”
Here’s a photo of the Lazy River….
How does playing in Texas compare to playing in California where you grew up and in Lynchburg where you played at Liberty?
Ryan: “Frisco’s a really nice area, it’s new and up and coming. It’s nice to be close to the parent club in Arlington, only about 30-45 minutes away. So it’s always nice to have those local fans who come out to support us and also support the Rangers. It’s a great area and a great atmosphere to play in.”
Now that you’ve been in the Texas organization for a couple years, what’s been the toughest thing about transitioning from the college level to pro ball?
Ryan: “It’s different playing everyday, being out on the road a lot and away from home. In college you get a group around you and you aren’t on the road as much, so that whole part of it is definitely a challenge. Texas is a great organization, they take care of us, so its a good organization to be in.”
What is you favorite baseball memory so far?
Ryan: “The one that always comes to mind is my first two college hits being home runs at [The University of] South Carolina. That was pretty exciting my freshman year, getting the opportunity to play and having my first two hits be home runs against the team that won the National Championship that year so that’s something I can say was pretty cool.”
Yesterday you went 3-4 with 2 home runs, do you enjoy playing those games early in the day?
Ryan: “I don’t know about that. It’s a little bit hotter in the afternoon, but I try and get ready for the game the same way everyday. Everyday is a new day no matter good or bad the day before was, just try to show up at the park, do something to get better, and focus on the game. I felt good yesterday so it was good to put up a few runs on the board and get the win.
You’ve been playing baseball for a long time and I’m sure there have been stretches where the hits don’t come as easy as you like them to, so how do you stay focused mentally when things aren’t going as well as you’d like them to?
Ryan: “There’s always little adjustments you have to make mechanically, timing wise, but more than anything when you’re struggling a little bit sometimes you have to just try and relax and let the game come to you. It’s really not trying to do too much and let you talent take over. I know I’m a good hitter when I struggle I just try to focus on the positives and know that I’m always one at bat away from being right back in it.
With the 2016 MLB draft having just taken place a few days ago is there a piece of advice you’d give to those players who are about to start their pro career?
Ryan: “When you first get drafted you are coming into something brand new and it can feel a little bit uncomfortable so just trying to find a way to stay and be comfortable. Know that the people around you are pulling for you and trying to make you better, so just try and find a way to be comfortable and find your niche. Stay focused day by day and not thinking about the future or what your future might hold because if you start thinking about that the game speeds up on you so just take a day by day approach.”
Thanks again to Ryan and Nathan Barnett, the Manager of Broadcasting and Media Development for the Frisco RoughRiders, for providing me the opportunity to have this conversation and for the photos used in this article.
With quite a few former Liberty baseball players have great seasons we will continue our “Flames in the Minors” series as the summer progresses.