PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Joey Wendle was a star second baseman at Division II West Chester University, who was a big reason why the Golden Rams won a national championship in 2012.
Soon after hoisting the championship trophy, the Avon Grove High School product was drafted in the 6th round by the Cleveland Indians.
He was traded to Oakland after the 2014 season and he has spent this season with Triple-A Nashville. Wendle started the year on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, but he returned to action in mid-April and he is hitting .289 for the Sounds with six home runs, 22 doubles and 30 runs batted in.
The 27-year-old Wendle has really been swinging a hot bat as of late. In his last ten games he is batting .415 and he has two hits in each of his last five games.
“I think it’s just kind of hitting your stride,” Wendle told KYW Newsradio about his recent surge prior to his game on Thursday. “Throughout the course of the season you’re going to make numerous adjustments, whether they are big or small. But I think, usually for me, around June, July, August, those are the months I really start to see the ball a little better, kind of get into the swing of things.”
While Wendle has sent this entire season at Triple-A, he already has tasted the big leagues in his career. Last year he got a late-season call-up to Oakland and made a nice impression, batting .260 in 28 games. He hit his first Major League home run on September 17th, taking Texas ace right-hander Yu Darvish deep. He says getting that chance to play Major League Baseball was quite an experience.
“I’m really thankful to the A’s for giving me that opportunity,” he says. “It was fun and it was a unique situation in that I was playing in September and I got a chance to play every day. That’s not something that a lot of players who get a September call-up are able to do. I was just fortunate enough with the way everything was going down up there that I got a chance to play everyday.”
Wendle is still on the Oakland 40-man roster and given how he is swinging the bat these days, it’s very possible he could get another call to the bigs. In the meantime, in addition to raking at the plate, he is expanding his versatility in the field.
“I’ve actually been playing a little bit of shortstop here the past couple of weeks,” Wendle says. “Primarily I’ve only played second in pro ball. So I’ve been over to the left side of the infield a little bit and they said I might even get some games over at third.”
That national championship for Wendle’s West Chester team was the first in program history. The Golden Rams actually just added a second title to their resume this past season and Wendle says he paid pretty close attention.
“I was actually able to catch a couple of games online, which was just awesome,” he says. “Really happy for that group of guys. I had an opportunity to workout with them a handful of times this off-season in West Chester. I’ve continued my relationship with head coach Jad Prachniak over the past couple of years. It’s really great for him. First year when we won it, it was a recruiting class that wasn’t necessarily his (2012 was Prachniak’s first season as head coach). Then this year it was all his recruiting class and 100% his doing. So really, really neat to see them do it again.”
Wendle and the Sounds continue a series in Omaha Friday night.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @Mattleonkyw.