David Armendariz – A Winning Attitude
David Freier | On 08, Jun 2016
A 6’0″, 190 lb. right-handed outfielder out of Cal Poly Pomona, David Armendariz was selected in the 23rd round of the 2014 First Year Player Draft. Now in his third year as a professional, he has reached the High-A level with Lynchburg.
A cursory glance at his stats, sitting at about league average, would not usually draw further attention, but since joining the Hillcats team on May 15, he has played in 19 of the team’s 23 games. In all of these appearances he has been in right field, with the exception of two relief innings against Salem on May 19, and has used the opportunity to become a key player in the team’s continued success as they charge towards the first half title of the Carolina League’s Northern Division.
Growing up in Southern California, Armendariz was a three-sport star in baseball, basketball and football. When he reached high school, he cut back to just football and baseball, where he was principally a pitcher. From there he moved on to become a Bronco at Division II Cal Poly Pomona.
“I think I was so passionate [about baseball]. I knew I had pretty good talent,” said Armendariz. “I knew that if I could get to a good level I could really focus on making the most of my talent.”
As part of the 2013 team at Cal Poly he contributed to the team’s best ever season with the team winning 40 games, finishing second in the Big West Conference before moving on to the NCAA tournament. Though it was not the best individual season for Armendariz (he had been named to the second team All-Big West as a sophomore in 2012), it was a memorable experience.
“That team was really special,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. The Cal Poly Pomona program has been unbelievable. My senior year we lost in the regionals, the year after that they made it to the Division II finals in Cary (NC), and they are back in Cary again this season.”
While in college he also had the opportunity to play summer collegiate baseball. In 2012 as a member of the Green Bay Bullfrogs, he was teammates with Justin Seager, the brother of current Major Leaguers Corey and Kyle Seager.
“It was very exciting,” he said about developing a friendship with Justin. “He prepares really well and he no doubt got that from his family.”
With his energy and outgoing personality, Armendariz is the kind of player you want to have as a teammate. In baseball parlance, you would call him a gamer. For example, on May 19 he was summed to pitch against the Salem Red Sox, one of the strongest team in the Carolina League.
“I think it ended up being 22 innings in two days of relief work for our bullpen,” said Hillcats manager Mark Budzinski about needing to call on position players to take the mound. “David did a really good job. You tell these guys don’t do too much. Just throw the ball over the plate. He was up for the win with the go-ahead runner on second; we just didn’t get him home.”
Instead, Armendariz was tagged for the loss when a throwing error set up the winning run for Salem. His ERA wasn’t damaged, remaining a perfect 0.00, but his minor league pitching record now stands at 0-1.
In his game preparation, he works diligently and is always trying to improve. Growing up, he followed Derek Jeter, but more recently he has modeled his game on other players.
“I grew up watching Derek Jeter, him being a leader, winning. That’s what I wanted to do,” says Armendariz. “As the game has progressed, I have looked to guys like Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen, who have all the tools and play the game the right way. That’s important.”
Armendariz has fit right into the winning ways of the Hillcats. In his debut against the Carolina Mudcats, he had a triple in his first game wearing a Hillcats jersey, which helped the team retake the lead, eventually going on to defeat the Mudcats.
“I had a little bit of nerves going into that game,” said Armendariz. “Coming up from Extended Spring Training, I wanted to help the team as much as possible. It was a 0-1 curveball that was up in the zone and I got a good swing on it.”
That triple settled him down and he now has a batting line of .217 with four homers, six RBI, and 15 runs scored. He continues to go out there every day and give it his best both in developing his talent and contributing to the success of the team.
In his first home game as a Hillcat he punched a three-run home run over the scoreboard to punctuate a six-run inning from which visiting Wilmington never recovered.
“It was early in the game so my approach was to hit to center, hit a fly ball deep.” said Armendariz about what would turn out to be his first High-A home run. “It was a 2-1 pitch, a fastball and I caught it good.”
Most fans don’t realize the dedication, commitment and humility necessary to achieve success as a baseball player. Armendariz exhibits all of these qualities. The toughest part is adjusting to failure. A batting average of .300 is considered good, meaning that you fail the remaining 70% of the time, so if you want to progress up the organizational ladder, you have to do everything well.
“He is a really good teammate, “said Budzinski about Armendariz. “He comes out and works hard every day. He’s been playing good outfield for us and made some really nice plays since he’s been here. He grinds it out every day.”
Not only has he had good models in the players he has observed from afar, but last season at Low-A Lake County he had the opportunity to be teammates with Nick Swisher, who was on a rehabilitation assignment with the Captains.
“He is a guy who brings a ton of energy to the game every single day,” said Armendariz about getting to know Swisher. “He was very open to talking with the minor leaguers. He knows how to go about the game on and off the field.”
Armendariz is working on generating opportunities to develop his individual career. His energy and attitude will carry him forward as he attempts to translate his talent into personal and team success.
Photo: Lindsay Carico/MiLB.com