Hendrix Showing Signs Of A Pro

STATEN ISLAND, NY - It hasn't been the swiftest or easiest transition for Jeff Hendrix numbers-wise at the professional level just yet but he is starting to prove he can make the necessary adjustments here in his debut season and it's his overall professionalism that has his coaches excited about his future.

Progression. That is what the 22-year-old centerfielder for the Staten Island Yankees baseball career has been all about.

Jeff Hendrix was an all-around athlete in his high school years, playing and excelling in football, basketball, and most obviously baseball. He had a ton of success on the Santiam Christian High School diamond. He won titles including all-league, all-state, and even Player of the Year in the Pacwest league in Oregon.

Despite the triumphs, Hendrix didn’t receive a scholarship offer to the D-1 school of his dreams, Oregon State. But that didn’t stop him. Hendrix became a baseball Beaver as a walk-on, and never looked back.

By his sophomore year in college, Hendrix put up some impressive numbers; he hit .351 for the year and had an on-base percentage of nearly .500. Between his offensive numbers and a good defensive game, Hendrix was the 39th round pick for the Kansas City Royals in 2014. But Hendrix opted to stay a year, a crucial decision for his future.

“I grew a lot that year on the field,” Hendrix said about his junior year at Oregon State. “It was hugely beneficial.”

Getting selected in the fourth round by the New York Yankees in the 2015 draft was just another step up the ladder for Hendrix.

“The competition, every time you start moving up it’s always going to get better,” Hendrix said of adapting to this new level of play. “It’ll always be a little jump, but a big part of baseball is adjusting.”

It has been an adjustment at the professional level in the early going. He hit just .209 in the month of July and saw his batting average dip down to a season-low .213 at one point, but he's been picking up as of late.

He has hit safely in nine of his last ten games, hitting .333 during that stretch. Hendrix has not only adjusted halfway through his first season of professional ball, but is proving himself to manager Pat Osborn.

“He’s a hard worker, a great kid, tough as nails, and he is a very good centerfielder,” Osborn said talking about beginning of the season. “I’ve been very impressed.”

There is, however, a lot of room for improvement in all aspects of the 6-foot, lefty hitter’s game. Swinging a wood bat is still something Hendrix is trying to get used to. But once he gets comfortable, something he appears to be lately, putting up some better offensive numbers is something the coaching staff expects.

“Offensively, he still has a whole other world to open up,” Osborn said. “He likes to use the opposite field, but once he opens up the pull side, you’re looking at a guy who’s probably going to hit for some power because he’s a strong kid with good bat speed.”

Hendrix also said he is working on keeping his eyes in the zone and not chasing any pitches, something he has been struggling with.

Even though he is expected to hit for some power down the road, Osborn knows playing some small ball will definitely be a part of Hendrix’s game. Working on his bunting skills to get on base and using his speed to effectively steal bases is another aspect of his game Hendrix is focused on improving. Hendrix has stolen eight bases this season.

But Hendrix is willing to work, and is looking to keep climbing up to the top.

“I would like to say the sky’s the limit,” Hendrix said. “I’m just going to continue to work harder.”

And Osborn can expect that same kind of effort and attitude every time Hendrix steps onto the diamond, and it's those kind of intangibles and level of professionalism displayed so early in his career that has his coaches excited about his future.

“He’s the same guy every day, “ Osborn said. “Whether he’s doing well or bad, had a rough game or good game, he’s going to go out there and play good defense. He’s going to hustle. He’s going to have a positive attitude. He’s just on that even keel no matter what."

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories