“He's been outstanding,” Nashville Sounds manager Steve Scarsone said of the 25-year-old.
Drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the sixth round of the amateur draft in 2012, Wendle rose to the ranks of the Double-A Akron Rubber Ducks last year. In a surprising move, he was traded to Oakland for long-time big-leaguer Brandon Moss in December.
“That's a tough guy to give away,” Scarsone said of Moss.
Wendle said he had mixed feelings about the trade at the time, but he said he is happy with where he is now.
“It was a little bit bittersweet because I did like the Indians’ organization,” he said. “It was an organization that I respected and I liked the way they did things, not to mention the people there that I have a lot of respect for and the friends that I made.
“It was difficult to leave that, but I was really excited to come over to the Oakland Athletics. I've heard nothing but good things about the organization from scouts, my agent, and other players, so I was really excited about the opportunity.”
Wendle said what he was told about the A’s turned out to be true.
“Everybody has treated me well,” he said. “From the players to the coaching staff to the front office. From my standpoint, it has been a smooth transition.”
While Wendle, a left-handed hitter, has hit a modest .269 so far this year, he has a respectable OPS of 748 powered by 15 doubles, three triples, and five home runs. He is a main cog in the Nashville offense.
“Now you see why that trade was made,” Scarsone said. “I think he's got a good future ahead of him. He's playing very well, but he's learning a lot and cleaning up some of the things that a young player coming up a level naturally needs to clean up, but there is no downside to what he's doing right now.
“It wasn't like he had to adjust in that he wasn't capable, but it was just the experience of a little bit quicker game and a little bit higher game and a little bit more consistent pitching that he's facing. It's just more of catching his stride within this level.”
When making the jump from Double-A to Triple-A, many hitters talk about pitchers having better command or off-speed pitches. Not Wendle. He said the difference is in the mindset.
“It's definitely different,” he said. “The players are older and more mature, both mentally and physically.“The pitchers are a little trickier and a little smarter than at Double-A. They're a little better at executing their plan...They have a better plan and are able to read hitters better and are able to execute that plan a little bit more effectively. But I think it's been a good transition for me. I think I'm at a position where I'm growing at the mental and physical side of the game.”
Wendle's attitude towards all aspects of the game, Scarcone said, is impressive.
“He's a hard-nosed player. He plays the full nine innings and runs hard – he runs every ball out,” Scarsone said. “It's something we try to instill in all of our players, but it doesn't always necessarily click. I think it's probably the way he's always played – probably from since he was eight-years-old – that's just the way he is.”
A testament to that attitude can be found in the fact Wendle is one of the few players who does not wear batting gloves.
“I've never seriously given them a try,” he said. “I like to have a feel on the bat, so it's just natural for me to be out there without batting gloves. I've done it for so long it just seems normal to me.”
With the A’s struggling and likely to trade veteran players around the July deadline, Wendle could be showing that hustle in Oakland by the end of the year.