Hillsborough, NJ native, Tim Fedroff has done nothing but hit since he was selected in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians organization. When the Indians selected Fedroff, they had hopes and aspirations that he would one day become their leadoff hitter and centerfielder at the big league level. Nearly five professional seasons later, Fedroff appears poised on fulfilling those expectations very soon.
Fedroff absolutely scorched pitching in Double-A last season, hitting a robust .338 in Akron before garnering a much deserved promotion to Triple-A Columbus in early June after being named the Eastern League Player of the Month for May. In Columbus, Fedroff posted a very respectable .274 batting average while helping the Clippers win their second consecutive Governors Cup title.
When the book on 2011 closed, it was assumed Fedroff would return to Columbus in 2012 to continue his development as an eventual big league piece. Instead, Cleveland spent the winter signing veteran outfielders like Chad Huffman and Ryan Spilborghs for organizational depth while also committing time to disappointing veteran prospects like Trevor Crowe and Beau Mills. Those moves ultimately blocked a roster spot in Columbus for Fedroff early on and forced him to open the 2012 campaign back in Akron.
Fair or not, that is a subject up for debate, but at 25 years of age, Fedroff is a .295 career hitter at the professional level and an above average defender in the outfield for an organization desperate for consistent major league help at the position. Having seen success at every level of high school, college and professional baseball, Fedroff has never allowed things out of his control to affect his on the field play. His humble approach allows him to focus squarely on hitting and making it tough on the decision makers to deny him the big league spot that he strives so very hard for every time he graces the diamond.
“I literally don’t think about it,” admitted Fedroff. “The approach I have taken the past few seasons is that if I can’t control it, I can’t worry about it. The game of baseball is hard enough to play as it is and I know that in order for me to play my best; I have to be 100% committed and focused on staying healthy and just playing baseball.”
Fedroff added, “I try not to get eager or anxious. I try my best to just stay within myself and play hard everyday and by doing that I know that if an opportunity comes my way, I’ll be ready for it.”
With that in mind, Fedroff returned to Akron this spring as a determined force looking to earn his way back to Columbus. After hitting .305 in 54 games with the Aeros, the Indians brass were left with little choice but to open up a roster spot for Fedroff at Triple-A and he has done nothing but reassure their decision to promote him earlier this month.
Fedroff spent a majority of his professional career as a table setter at the top of the lineup, but since landing back in Columbus, Fedroff typically finds himself in the middle of the batting order these days. With that, territory comes far more opportunities for RBI chances and pitches to hit for power and Fedroff has certainly capitalized on being in that position early on. In his 15 games so far for the Clippers, Fedroff has a .352 batting average with two home runs and seven RBI. The two homers coupled with the three blasts he had for Akron give him five on the season, one more than his career high with still more than two months of baseball remaining on the schedule.
“I’m a little more comfortable this year in Columbus,” explained Fedroff. “I know the city better this year and it’s nice to have an established daily routine already in place.”
With his childhood dream staring him down just one level away, it appears to have all clicked for Fedroff in 2012. His approach is noticeably more patient and his slumps don’t seem to last but a game or two. Even in games where he may not hit the ball, he is still drawing a considerable amount of walks which is reflected in his stellar .406 on base percentage. His walk percentage is at a career high and his strikeout percentage is at a career low which relays that Fedroff has certainly matured as an all around hitter.
“I have to credit that with the routine that my coaches and I have developed,” said Fedroff. “I’ve really worked hard on having a plan every time I walk up to the plate. I also try and gather as much information on a pitcher as I can so I can have an idea of what to expect that at bat and whether or not I want to be more aggressive early in the count or try to see pitches.”
On his approach, Fedroff added, “I’ve stuck to whatever is working for me. I had a preamp routine and hitting routine that worked well for me last year and I made it a priority that I stick to that routine everyday. I feel like that has had a lot to do with staying consistent at the plate.”
At the University of North Carolina where Fedroff was an All-American, he teamed with stars like Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Alex White and Tim Federowicz in two storied runs to the College World Series. Those players all find themselves in the big leagues right now and Fedroff uses that as added motivation to earn his ticket to Cleveland much like his former mates have done.
“Yeah, you can say it’s motivation,” Fedroff said. “I can’t say enough about how happy I am for all of them. I even ordered the MLB package on my Apple television so I can watch their games. I was lucky enough to play with those guys and learn a lot from them in the process. The fact they’re all having the success is no surprise to me, I know how much work they put in to the game.”
As Cleveland finds themselves just ½ game out of the American League Central division lead and in the thick of a postseason spot, the Indians continue to search for a difference maker in the outfield. With underwhelming performances from Johnny Damon, Aaron Cunningham and Shelley Duncan, who are hitting a combined .194 on the season, Fedroff appears in prime position to bang down the door to the Major Leagues that he has been knocking on ever so loudly for the last five years.