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Phillies prospect Jimmy Cordero could be future closer

CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Phillies will use the next six weeks to determine who will start the season as their closer. But, the selection will likely just be a temporary fix as one of their most intriguing young arms receives more seasoning in the minor leagues.

Jimmy Cordero was invited to spring training with little chance to make the team out of camp. He was issued a high uniform number and a locker by the door. He has yet to pitch past double A. Cordero will likely start the season in Reading or Lehigh Valley. Joe Jordan, the Phillies director of player development, said Cordero does not have to be a closer in the minors. The organization will focus on having Cordero pitch multiple innings to continue his development.

But it is his fastball - which regularly zips near 100 MPH - that has him pegged to have a chance to be a major-league closer.

"He has a top of the scale fastball and an above average curveball," Jordan said. "It was pretty damn good."

The Phillies acquired Cordero last July from Toronto as part of the return for Ben Revere. He spent the season's final month as double-A Reading's set-up man. Cordero, 24, struck out 18 batters in 17 innings and walked just four. The righthander's fastball - which first reached triple digits four years ago - consistently hovered near 100 MPH. Cordero ended the season by retiring the final nine batters he faced, six of which by strikeout.

"We were somewhat familiar with him," Jordan said. "But last August and September, he executed better than I've ever seen him execute."

Cordero's fastball reached new heights this winter when he returned home to play in the Dominican Republic's winter league. He read his game report in the clubhouse after an outing and saw his fastball registered at 104 MPH.

"It was unbelievable," Cordero said. "I had never thrown that fast. I was so excited. It's not a big difference though because 100 miles per hour is still hard."