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Rule 5 pick Cordoba hits 1st MLB homer

MLB.com @AJCassavell

ATLANTA -- Everywhere he goes, Allen Cordoba hits. Two weeks into the 2017 season, that list now includes the big leagues.

Cordoba -- a 21-year-old Rule 5 Draft pick who had never played above Rookie ball before this year -- notched his first career home run on Monday night, a solo shot in the seventh inning of the Padres' 5-4 walk-off loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park. The pinch-hit blast came off Braves left-hander Jaime Garcia and sparked a late rally that ultimately fell short.

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ATLANTA -- Everywhere he goes, Allen Cordoba hits. Two weeks into the 2017 season, that list now includes the big leagues.

Cordoba -- a 21-year-old Rule 5 Draft pick who had never played above Rookie ball before this year -- notched his first career home run on Monday night, a solo shot in the seventh inning of the Padres' 5-4 walk-off loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park. The pinch-hit blast came off Braves left-hander Jaime Garcia and sparked a late rally that ultimately fell short.

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According to Statcast™, the ball left the bat at 104 mph with a laugh angle of 25 degrees and landed an estimated 397 feet from home plate.

"It's something really special," Cordoba said through a team interpreter. "It's just, 'Wow.' I don't even really know what to say."

In 14 plate appearances this year, Cordoba has five hits and two walks. That's quite the start for a player facing Major League-caliber pitching for the first time.

Cordoba's homer on Monday earned him the silent treatment in the Padres' dugout, where he gave air high-fives in the direction of his teammates before ultimately being mobbed.

Tweet from @Padres: First Major League home run calls for the silent treatment... pic.twitter.com/AeN70hAHJP

But make no mistake, Cordoba has endeared himself to his teammates.

"It's special," Padres catcher Austin Hedges said. "We've got a lot of young guys, and they're proving themselves up here, which is awesome. They're proving that they belong."

Cordoba noted the significance of hitting his first Major League home run off Garcia, who was very involved in helping the young Latin players when they were both in the Cardinals' organization.

"He was a really good example there," Cordoba said. "He would always come down to the Minor Leagues, and he would take the majority of the Latino guys out to eat. He was always very giving, very gracious. He would take us to mass on Sundays. He was always trying to help out, give advice, and we would ask him questions. I have a lot of respect for him for that."

When the Padres selected Cordoba in the Rule 5 Draft, there were plenty of questions surrounding whether they'd be able to keep a player with so little experience on the big league roster. If they don't, he'd be offered back to the Cardinals, per the stipulations of the Rule 5 Draft.

Cordoba, who is coming off back-to-back batting titles in St. Louis' system, has already done his best to answer those questions.

"I don't think in any way, shape or form has he been overmatched," Padres manager Andy Green said. "They've been very competitive at-bats."

Green was quick to note Cordoba's plate discipline. In 220 plate appearances for Johnson City last season, he walked 21 times, compared with just 19 strikeouts. As Green noted, "10-percent walk rate and a 9-percent K rate -- that's a guy that sees the baseball well, I don't care what level."

Before Monday's game, Cordoba actually touted the benefits of facing big league pitchers, who are constantly in the strike zone (unlike some Rookie-ball pitchers he faced). He said he hasn't had to make any drastic changes for the improved quality of pitchers he's facing.

"I haven't focused too much on who's out there on the mound," Cordoba said. "I just want to be prepared and have a good at-bat. That's my biggest focus."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Allen Cordoba