How I Met Your Aeros: Tim Fedroff
At the end of the 2010 season, it looked like Tim Fedroff’s prospect bubble was on the verge of bursting. Upon his callup to AA Akron, he only had a .274/.349/.366 slash line, .715 OPS, 4 HR, 36 RBI and 7 SB in 12 attempts over 118 games. His plate discipline also disappeared, as he struck out 90 times in 501 plate appearances and only walked 48 times. That certainly wasn’t the big impression the 23 year old was hoping to have.
Repeating the AA level in 2011, Fedroff really put it together. He spent the first 70 games of his season in Akron, posting a very impressive .338/.399/.447 slash line and .846 OPS. He also improved his plate discipline, only striking out 39 times in 300 plate appearances. That hot start earned Fedroff a promotion to AAA Columbus, where he continued to impress. After posting a .272/.370/.362 slash line, .732 OPS and 35:35 SO:BB ratio in 62 games (262 plate appearances), Fedroff seemed poised to take the final step toward becoming a Major League player in 2012.
Unfortunately for Fedroff, an abundance of outfielders in the upper levels of the Indians’ minor league system have pushed him back down to Akron to start this year. Fedroff understands the roster crunch, however, and is trying to make the most of it.
“It [just] feels good to be playing ball,” Fedroff explained. “It’s something I can’t control. I can’t control where I play, I’m not one to make those decisions. I just kind of show up every day and try to have a good mindset, stay positive, work hard every day, and try to get better.”
After his breakout 2011 campaign, Fedroff really has nothing left to prove in Akron. Realistically, he should be in Columbus trying to prove he’s ready to make the leap to The Show, so it’s only natural that Fedroff is a little frustrated with starting back in AA.
“I don’t want to say I was disappointed with it,” Fedroff said. “I was hoping I might be able to start in AAA. Obviously it didn’t happen that way, but I’m just trying to, again, play well, and hopefully I’ll get an opportunity. That’s all I really want is just an opportunity.”
Fedroff is the sort of player you can get behind. He’s not a tremendous physical specimen at only 5’11”, 205 pounds and has had to work for everything he’s gotten. To do that, Fedroff has gone the extra mile in putting in work in the offseason.
“I get out to Arizona as early as I can, so I was out there at the end of January this year, which really helps,” Fedroff said. “I’m not the type of player that can just roll out of bed and pick up right where I left off. I’ve got to put in the time and the effort and really develop strong habits, and that’s what I was able to do. I got out to Arizona early and worked hard for a while there and by the time Spring Training actually started up, I felt like I was comfortable and had worked through all the offseason rust.”
Working through that offseason rust early on has led to very strong starts over the past two seasons. So far in 2012, Fedroff has a .500/.621/.636 slash line, 1.257 OPS, .550 wOBA, and a 6:7 SO:BB ratio in 29 plate appearances. Granted, that’s a very small sample size and is buoyed by a .688 BABIP, but the point still remains that Fedroff is hitting well and getting on base.
It’s important that Fedroff gets on base often because he doesn’t have much power. In 377 career minor league games, he has only hit 11 home runs. As such, Fedroff has learned that walking as often as possible and avoiding strikeouts is key to his success.
“With the type of hitter I am, I have to basically rely on other people to get me in,” Fedroff said. “I’m not going to hit for a whole bunch of homeruns, so my job, my role is to get on base and create runs that way. I’ve worked closely with the hitting coaches, picking up different patterns and kind of fine-tuning an approach when I’m up at the plate and if I stick to that, it should result in a good amount of walks and not a whole lot of strikeouts.”
As a hitter, Fedroff profiles as a top-of-the-order table setter, but strangely, he hasn’t racked up the high number of stolen bases those players typically get. In his career, he has only stolen 32 bases and has been caught 16 times. This is an area of his game that Fedroff is consciously working on, however.
“That’s something I’ve been working very, very hard to get better at,” Fedroff said. “I feel like I have the speed to do it, it’s just getting comfortable out there. I think I have the ability to steal some bags and I’m definitely going to try to do that this year and work on that. It’s definitely something that I take very seriously and have prioritized and spent a lot of time thinking about it and working on it. It’s an area of my game that I really think, at least I’m expecting personally, a big improvement on this season compared to previous ones.”
Another area of Fedroff’s game that could use a bit of improvement is his defense. His bat profiles best in center field, so it’s imperative for him to stick there.
“It’s a position I’ve played a little bit," Fedroff explained when asked about his defense in center compared to another Aero, Jordan Henry. "I’ve been playing it more; I played it a good amount when I was up in Columbus last year. I think I have some pretty decent range out there where I can track a few balls down. Jordan Henry’s a guy that’s fun to watch out there. He plays some great defense. So I try to do my best Jordan Henry impression I guess [laughing].”
Friday night, Fedroff’s Jordan Henry impression was on full display as he made a catch in deep center on a full run. It was an impressive play that showed his range out there. He may not be Jordan Henry, but Fedroff is more than holding his own out there.
Overall, Fedroff has a healthy outlook on his season in 2012. When asked about his goals for the season, he replied, “I want to get more consistent, play better day in and day out, avoid slumps as best I can and, I mean, obviously my goal is to play Major League baseball. If I play the quality of baseball I think I can, or I know I can, I want an opportunity.”
An opportunity is all Fedroff needs right now. Some of his college teammates – Alex White, Dustin Ackley, and Kyle Seager – are already in the Majors, and with a little luck, Fedroff will join them soon. With the current state of the Tribe outfield, the Indians need anyone who can hit and get on base.
Sounds like an opportunity to me.
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