If Major League Baseball held a scouting combine, Franchy Cordero might be Mike Mamula.
The former Boston College defensive lineman propelled himself into the first round of the 1995 NFL draft by dominating the various tests of strength and speed, and as far as measurables go, Cordero is off the charts.
Whether he can translate those raw tools into a season of big-league production remains to be seen, but the Red Sox clearly believe he's worth the gamble after acquiring him from the Royals as part of a five-player return for outfielder Andrew Benintendi on Wednesday night.
"Historically he's been a guy who can play all three outfield positions, who brings a power bat from the left side, hits the ball about as hard as anybody in the big leagues and so he should be able to fit in terms of how our roster functions," said Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. "The exact role when he plays, how he's used, that's something as we get to know him, Alex (Cora) is going to figure out what works best for the club, but we know he's capable of playing all over the outfield and really impacting the baseball."
Cordero's numbers aren't much to look at on the surface. He's a .236 hitter in parts of four seasons with the Padres and Royals, with 12 homers in 95 games. What makes the 26-year-old left-handed slugger intriguing, however, are the numbers beyond the numbers.
The 6-foot-3, 226-pounder is mildly reminiscent of former Red Sox slugger Wily Mo Pena and he possesses prodigious power and a massive swing, as evidenced by the 489-foot home run he launched in April of 2018 off of Arizona's Matt Koch. However, that power hasn't consistently translated to any level, with his career high of 17 home runs coming in the hitter-happy Pacific Coast League.
He's also exceptionally fast, ranking anywhere from the 89th to 98th percentile in sprint speed from 2017-19. He led the minor leagues in triples in 2016 (16) and 2017 (18), but his speed hasn't particularly resulted in steals, with a high of 23 in the minors and eight total in the majors. His instincts remain a work in progress in center field, as well -- the same day he crushed that massive homer, for instance, his misplay in center cost starter Tyson Ross a no-hitter with two outs in the eighth.
Cordero is lean and powerful, but that hasn't helped him stay healthy. He has already missed time with groin, wrist, forearm, and elbow injuries, the last of which required surgery to remove a bone spur in 2018.
Though Cordero hit just .211 last year, he barreled balls at nearly double the league average, and his hard-hit percentage of 47.1 rated well above the league average of 34.9. He also produced an average exit velocity of over 91 mph that was mitigated by the fact that he hit so many balls into the ground, thanks to a negative launch angle.
Of course, measurables don't mean much if they don't translate to production. Mamula ended up being a pretty good NFL player, though his career was limited to five years because of injuries. Cordero has yet to make a similar mark, and it will be up to the Red Sox to see if they can unlock his considerable tools.