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VCA alum Cordell makes MLB debut with White Sox

By: Nick Pecoraro
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For Ryan Cordell, the long, hard road has finally reached its destination.

A Valley Christian Academy alum, Cordell became VCA’s first MLB player this week as he was called up to the Chicago White Sox Monday.

Cordell made his big league debut Monday against the Detroit Tigers, pinch-running in the bottom of the ninth inning and scoring the go-ahead run on Matt Davidson’s walk-off homer to give Chicago a 4-2 win.

"It's been a long road with a series of ups and downs, but it's really cool to be here now," Cordell told reporters after Monday’s game in Chicago. "I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to help these guys as much as I can."

Cordell got his first big league start Tuesday against the Tigers, playing right field and hitting ninth. He went 0-for-3 but collected his first career RBI with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning of the 8-3 loss to Detroit.

The 26-year-old Cordell suffered a broken collarbone during the early part of 2018 after running into the outfield wall and missed three months of action while a member of Chicago’s Triple-A affiliate Charlotte Knights. Cordell returned to action July 18, spending about a week between the White Sox rookie league club and the Double-A Birmingham Barons before returning to Charlotte, where he hit .275 and reached base safely in 29 of 34 games since his return to the Knights.

“It’s definitely been tough,” Cordell told the Chicago Tribune after Monday’s game. “I learned a lot from (injury); just coming back; just having that fire and desire to really make every at-bat count; make every moment on the field count. It just shows me a new way to really approach the game.”

Cordell, who graduated from VCA in 2010 before attending Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, was drafted in the 11th round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft (340th overall) by the Texas Rangers.

He spent parts of four seasons in the Rangers’ farm system before being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization in 2016. He was traded again in 2017 to the White Sox and nearly made the opening day roster in 2018.

“He’s got pretty good stride out there,” said White Sox manager Rick Renteria on Cordell’s call-up. “Defending is one of the biggest things we’re looking for. At the same time, we want to also give him some at-bats and see how he looks at the plate.”

Renteria also told reporters that while Cordell was mainly brought up to play center field, he could also see time in the corner outfield positions.

Cordell was a baseball and basketball player at Valley Christian under coach Brad Gunter. He hit .496 over four years as a starter on the varsity baseball team, which won four Sacramento Metropolitan titles – going 48-1 in league play – and two Sac-Joaquin Section crowns during Cordell’s time at VCA.

Cordell also averaged over 18 points per game in three varsity years on the Lions’ basketball team.

“Shows what kind of athlete he is,” said Gunter.

The White Sox (56-83) have 23 games remaining in 2018 as of Wednesday morning.