BY STEVE KRAH
By taking outfielder Cole Roederer in the second round of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft (77th overall), the Chicago Cubs see promise in the youngster.
The Cubs selected only two players — shortstop Nico Hoerner and outfielder Brennen Davis — before Roederer.
The lefty-swinger who graduated from Hart High School in the Newhall section of Santa Clarita, Calif., in 2018 has high hopes for his first full professional season.
“I have some very high expectations for myself,” says Roederer, who begins the 2019 season with the South Bend (Ind.) Cubs of the Low Class-A Midwest League after playing 36 games with the rookie-level Arizona Cubs No. 2 team in 2018. In Mesa, he hit .275 (39-of-142) with five home runs, four triples, four doubles and 24 runs batted in.
Roederer, who played in the 2017 Area Code Games and had committed to UCLA before forgoing college for the pros, says it is a combination of his talent and maturity that has allowed him to go from high school to pro ball and to be sent to a full-season league as a teenager.
The 19-year-old is the youngest player on the South Bend roster and does not turn 20 until Sept. 24, three weeks after the regular season ends.
“A lot of high school guys aren’t mentally prepared for this kind of stuff,” says Roederer. “It’s very tough. It’s extremely mental.
“I’m able to fix my game and keep going forward regardless of the outcome. That’s what got me to pro ball. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have the mind for it you’re not going to make it.”
Since joining the Cubs organization, Roederer has been able to benefit from mental skills training, including meditation.
“It kind of opened my eyes, the fact that you can train your brain and constantly improve yourself mentally,” says Roederer. “It’s something that’s very beautiful.”
Roederer got into two spring training games with the major league team and went 1-for-2 at the plate.
The first Cactus League at-bat on March 19 produced a home run against Seattle Mariners right-hander Tayler Scott at Mesa’s Sloan Park.
“I walk up there and the guy’s throwing fuzz — like 96, 97 (mph),” says Roederer. “I said, ‘I’ve got to get my foot down.’ I watched all the guys before. He kind of goes high and tight on my head. It kind of buzzed me awake. Let’s go. This is getting real.
“I had a lot of adrenaline flowing. For some reason, the crowd was screaming. I heard nothing. The coach was screaming. I heard nothing. It was just me and (former Cubs minor leaguer Scott). I was just dancing with him.
“When that pitch came I was screaming inside and freaking out. This is something I’d dreamed of.”
Roederer, who sees center fielder as his natural position, he looks forward to making the adjustment to the long season by developing a routine.
“This is definitely a marathon and not a sprint,” says Roederer. “You have to maintain yourself and have a good regimen go off of.”
Roederer will be playing his home games more than 2,000 miles from his California home.
His family is scheduled to bring his truck next week and will spend some time with him.
Cole Roederer (South Bend Cubs Photo)