PEORIA, Ariz. — When Cody Decker isn’t growing a boss mustache or playing pranks on his teammates and bragging about it on Facebook he apparently is making a name for himself in professional baseball.

The former Santa Monica High School and UCLA star was named MVP of the Arizona League last week after leading the league with 15 home runs and 63 runs batted in. His .354 batting average put him in the league’s top three, narrowly missing a triple crown.

“I’m not nearly done yet,” Decker said of his success with the Peoria Padres. “I’m just one step of the way there.

“I’m very happy I took my first step.”

And a big first step it was. After being drafted in the 22nd round of the Major League Baseball Draft in June by the Padres, he quickly signed and went about setting the AZL on fire.

Instead of letting his low draft spot get him down, Decker said he uses it along with disparaging remarks he’s heard along the way from talent evaluators to fuel his rise through the minors.

“My whole thing is to basically try and beat everyone I possibly can,” he said. “For the last year and a half my whole motivation is to prove everybody wrong.”

Included in that span he led the Pacific-10 Conference in home runs with 21 and has now been promoted to the Fort Wayne TinCaps, a single-A team that has already qualified for the playoffs.

With just a handful of games left in the regular season, Decker hopes to use that time to acclimate to the team and work on his swing before the playoffs begin.

In three games with Fort Wayne, Decker is having a hard time finding his stroke. He is hitting just .111 in nine at bats, but he isn’t worried. He said it usually takes 20 plate appearances to find a rhythm.

“I’m feeling good, I’m just going out having my at bats,” he said. “My head is in the right place and I’m trying to stay with my normal plan and get it going.”

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