By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When describing former Avon Grove High School (Chester County) and West Chester University star Joey Wendle, his manager these days with the Class-A Carolina Mudcats in the Cleveland Indians organization, David Wallace, keeps it simple.
“Guys that can hit, can hit,” Wallace tells KYW Newsradio. “I know that sounds pretty elementary, but it’s true, and Joey can just hit.”
The second baseman’s .313 average for the Mudcats in his second year as a pro, more than supports that argument.
“I’ve been able to feel pretty good at the plate this year,” Wendle told KYW Newsradio prior to Monday’s night game in Wilmington. “Had some success, had a little bit of luck here and there. Overall, it’s just been a good, successful season to this point.”
Wendle isn’t just hitting for average, he’s also driving the ball. He has 39 extra-base hits this season, including a team high 12 home runs. He also paces the squad with 45 runs batted in.
“It’s fun watching opponents try to figure out how to pitch him,” Wallace says. “They might have success a game or two, here and there and that’s baseball, but Joey’s always going to make the adjustment. He’s able to go opposite field. He’s able to pull balls. He’s able to stay up the middle. He does a nice job of taking his walks when they’re there. Because a lot of times, teams will identify Joey as the guy we’re not going to let beat us. So they kind of pitch around him and he doesn’t get a whole lot to hit sometimes. But he’s able to be patient enough to wait for something good to hit and then when he gets it, he puts the barrel on it.”
A left-handed hitter, Wendle was selected by the Indians in the 6th round of the MLB Draft last year, this after he led his West Chester squad to the 2012 Division II National Championship. He started his pro career by hitting .327 for Class A Short-Season Mahoning Valley in the New York-Penn League after signing last summer. While the transition to the pros appears to have been seamless for Wendle, he says it was an adjustment.
“Definitely just the lifestyle,” Wendle says. “Just getting used to being on the road, getting used to being away from home for extended periods of time. Learning how to play every day, learning how to take care of your body, the mental and physical approach that went along with playing.”
In the field, Wendle’s manager says he has really improved at second base.
“We’ve talked about some positioning adjustments to make and just some footwork type stuff,” Wallace says. “But he’s done nothing but take those adjustments and make them quickly and seamlessly. We’re excited about him and his development there over at second base.”
Wendle had two hits and scored a run in a 4-3 Mudcats loss to the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Monday night. But this visit to Delaware has been special for more reasons than just baseball.
“This is really nice, about 40 minutes from home, about half an hour from school, so it’s good,” Wendle says. “I’m able to se my family. I was able to stay at home (Sunday) night, which was really nice. I’m able to see a lot of friends from West Chester and some people I haven’t seen in a long time.”
This homecoming ends Tuesday afternoon as Wendle and the Mudcats wrap up their series in Wilmington before heading back home to North Carolina.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.