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First Full Season Has Been No Struggle for Consistent Hendrix

First Full Season Has Been No Struggle for Consistent Hendrix

| On 21, Aug 2014

The minor league baseball season is coming to a close, which means many players are wrapping up their first full season of professional baseball. They have dealt with the long road trips from April through August, have lived in over-filled apartments or with host families whom they previously did not know, and have faced the challenge of playing the game nearly every single day for the past five months.

Not all players thrive in such a demanding environment; many can struggle in their first full season, as they are not used to the daily grind, the long hours, and the lack of free time. Summers that were once meant for pools and ice cream are now meant for bus rides and fast food.

Paul Hendrix, however, has not been intimidated by the change of pace. He spent 2013 with the short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers, giving him a glimpse at the life of a professional player, though he was treated to only a three-month stint instead of a full season. This season, which Hendrix has spent exclusively with the Lake County Captains, has given him a true taste of the baseball lifestyle.

And he has not been daunted.

Hendrix started the season as a utility player, moving around the infield and filling in gaps until shortstop Dorssys Paulino was sent to Arizona to work on the transition to an outfield position. In that time, Hendrix stepped in to fill in at short, and has now not left the position between second and third.

It has served the team well. Paulino at short was plagued by errors and sloppy play. Even since the transition, Paulino has struggled, as he is tied with Grant Fink for most errors on the team with 22. Hendrix has only half that number, falling solidly in the middle of the pack with 11.

But what little Hendrix may lack on the field, he makes up for at the plate.

Hendrix currently leads the Captains in average, boasting .283 on the season with a line of .368/.455/.823 in 103 games. He has 104 hits, 17 doubles, five triples, and 12 home runs on the season with 48 walks and 119 strikeouts. He has stolen one base and has 57 runs, while racking up 41 RBI.

Hendrix has been one of the few consistent Captains all season. He posted a .318 average in the first half of the season with a .907 OPS, 11 doubles, three triples, six homers, and 22 RBI. He was overlooked for the Midwest League All-Star game, a fact which may be attributed to his submission as a second baseman instead of another position at which he’d have different competition. Manager Mark Budzinski said he talked to Hendrix about his lack of invitation to the All-Star Game, not wanting him to think that his performance was lacking in any facet.

Hendrix has not seemed to take the snub personally, instead continuing his strong showing with a .244 second half average with six doubles, two triples, and six home runs.

Hendrix was drafted by the Indians in the 18th round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Texas Christian University. However, he had been on the Tribe’s radar long before. While playing at Howard Junior College, Hendrix was also drafted in the 32nd round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Indians, though he passed on the offer in order to spend his junior year at TCU. He was a 2013 Honorable Mention All-Big 12 prior to joining the Indians’ organization.

For Hendrix, the key to his success is recognizing what works and locking in on it. He has said that when routines are followed for a long enough period of time, things will fall into place and go well. He does not complain about where he’d played on the field and doesn’t try to do too much at the plate that he is not comfortable with. At the most basic level, Hendrix has the ideal mentality for a young player — he knows who he is, he knows how he plays, and he is striving to improve that, not change it.

His low-key, understated mentality and style of play seem reminiscent of a younger version of Michael Brantley, the smooth-playing outfielder. Hendrix reflects much of that effortless look, though he obviously still has a ways to go before he could achieve the full magnitude of Brantley’s performance. But, at this rate, reaching that in future seasons isn’t out of the question.

As the Captains finish up their regular season, still in the thick of the playoff race, it will be performances from solid and consistent players like Hendrix that will catapult them further into success. Without Hendrix, it’s likely they wouldn’t even be so close to success.

Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer