Cordero signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels and will likely end up in a Triple-A Salt Lake Bees uniform for opening day on April 4. He’s got a tough road ahead, of course, although his situation is an ideal one. He’s just 31 years old, and he’s gotten himself into great shape. And, he’ll be playing in Salt Lake City.
The Salt Lake franchise has been a springboard for a number of baseball underdogs, who’ve gone on to earn an MLB career. That’s not to say every ballplayer plucked out of obscurity and sent to Triple-A Salt Lake has gone on to win a World Series ring, such as Ryan Vogelsong. Still, his success counts among a number of second-chance ballplayers currently living out their dream of playing in the big leagues.
It's basically the trials and tribulations of a career, and things have finally started to click. Japan was just one of the steps in the process of getting better. It wasn't just Japan; it was everything. —Ryan Vogelsong
If you’re a Los Angeles Angels fan, Vogelsong is the one who got away. The Angels signed the journeyman after he was released by the Philadelphia Phillies midseason in 2010. He didn’t exactly raise eyebrows with his box scores while pitching for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees. Still, broadcaster Steve Klauke made the on-air comment that members of the coaching staff wanted to resign him for 2011. It didn’t happen, and for Vogelsong’s sake, for the better.
“It's either you're going to play, you're going to work out, you're going to do the right things to stay, or are you just going to throw it all away and go back home.” —Jerome Williams
In January of this year, Jerome Williams re-signed with the Angels for a second season. This year’s contract is worth $2 million, a hard-earned reward for the big man from the big island (Waipahu, Hawaiʻi). He knows how fortunate he is to be again wearing an MLB uniform. By his own admission, Williams squandered his opportunity as a first-round draft pick by the San Francisco Giants in 1999.
In 2005, the Giants traded him to the Chicago Cubs and for the next six seasons Williams bounced around the affiliated minor, independent and foreign leagues. He played for the Oakland A’s, Washington Nationals, Minnesota Twins, Long Beach Armada (Golden Baseball League), Los Angeles Dodgers, Indios de Mayaguez (Puerto Rican Winter League) and Uni-President Lions (Chinese Professional Baseball League, Taiwan).
The Angels discovered the big right-hander pitching for the independent league Lancaster Barnstormers and signed him in June 2011. He started 10 games for Salt Lake and then in August was promoted to the parent club in the midst of a playoff race with the Texas Rangers. It was his first major league start since 2005. Since then he’s been a reliable member of the Angels bullpen, providing long relief and the occasional emergency start.