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Hard Working Tim Fedroff One Step Closer to Big Leagues

The path that one must follow to chase down their dream is one typically built upon passion, sacrifice and toughness. For Hillsborough, New Jersey native, Tim Fedroff, he has been traveling down that straight and narrow path to the Major Leagues for the last decade.

Coming from a state in the northeast region like New Jersey, Fedroff had somewhat of a disadvantage growing up in comparison to other kids with baseball talent similar to his. In warmer climates of the country like Florida, Texas and California that are well known recruiting hot spots; baseball can be played all year round where as the treacherous winter months in New Jersey make playing time and exposure to scouts very limited. That never stopped Fedroff from competing against the very best talent the country had to offer.

“I played a whole lot of baseball growing up, pretty much every opportunity I had to play, I played. That ranges from backyard baseball to organized little league,” said Fedroff. “As I got older I knew that there was a whole bunch of talent in other parts of the country and I was fortunate enough to have parents and support from others to help me travel south during the summers so I could be exposed to top flight competition and it absolutely made me a better player as a result.”

Since entering high school in 2002, Fedroff has spent his years bettering himself both physically and mentally for what he hoped one day would lead him to his ultimate fantasy of becoming a professional baseball player. His dream inched closer to becoming a reality on Monday as the Cleveland Indians brass promoted the outfielder from Double-A Akron to Triple-A Columbus after leading the Eastern League in hitting for the better part of the last two months.

Fedroff competing in a High School Home Run Derby at the Jack Cust Academy in 2005.

Fedroff first opened the eyes of scouts across the country as a young high school player for his hometown Hillsborough Raiders. Under Head Coach Norm Hewitt, Fedroff was heralded as a two-time All-State selection, four-time All-County, three-time All-Area and was named the 2006 Somerset County Player of the Year. With such gaudy numbers and well rounded physical attributes, colleges across the country were foaming from the mouth to get their hands on Fedroff. After making a handful of recruiting visits to the prominent baseball schools in the nation, he could not resist the lure of the Carolina blue and committed to becoming a Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina.

T-Feds spent two seasons at UNC where he became one of the premier college baseball players in the country. After not being guaranteed much playing time in his initial season by Coach Mike Fox, Fedroff secured a job in right field and ended up starting 56 games that season and finished second on the team in hitting with a .344 average which earned him honors as a Freshman All-American. The Tar Heels earned a berth in Omaha’s College World Series where Fedroff hit safely in six of the seven games the team played for a .345 tournament average with a home run and five RBI en route to earning a spot on the All-College World Series team.

Determined to build off of his phenomenal 2007 campaign, Fedroff entered spring practice in 2008 firmly entrenched as the Heels starting right fielder and brought with him lofty expectations to replicate his freshman performance. Fedroff certainly held up to the bargain as he batted a stellar .404 with 12 home runs and 71 RBI with 78 runs scored in just 68 games which garnered him honors as a First Team-All American.

Tim Fedroff as a member of the North Carolina Tar Heels

On the eve of the Super Regional’s against Coastal Carolina University in June of 2008, with a berth back to Omaha on the line, Fedroff learned that he had been selected as the Indians seventh round draft selection with two years of collegiate eligibility remaining. Because Fedroff was 21 years of age though, he had the option of bypassing his junior season of college or ink a professional contract with Cleveland if he chose to go that route.

“I was actually in a van heading to UNC baseball practice and I got a congratulatory text from an Indians scout,” said Fedroff. “He informed me that I was selected by them and I could not have been more excited.”

The Heels went on to sweep the series against Coastal Carolina that weekend to earn a trip back to Omaha. Upon their arrival, Fedroff proved that his freshman campaign was no fluke and that he was indeed built to flourish in the main stream spotlight at the Mecca of college baseball. Fedroff once again earned all-tournament honors for his terrific showing, posting a .476 average, going 10 for 21 in five games with a double, a triple and two RBI. After being eliminated by the eventual National Champion Fresno State Bulldogs, Fedroff was left with the most important decision of his life hanging in the balance.

After taking a few weeks to weight his options, Fedroff decided it was in his best interest to leave school early in favor of professional ball. In August of 2008, Fedroff inked a contract that guaranteed the 21-year old $750,000 dollars with the Indians and shortly after, reported to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers franchise, the short season Single-A affiliate of the New York Penn League.

Cleveland’s master plan as an organization was to groom Fedroff into a centerfielder to bat at the top of the order. With excellent defensive skills and the ability to have strong at bats with low strike out totals, Fedroff found himself as a leadoff hitter and one of the organizations premier outfield prospects. While some criticized Fedroff and his decision to turn pro, the experience and extra year he would gain using a wooden bat would be irreplaceable in the long run.

“It was a big adjustment to make,” Fedroff said. “Not only adjusting to using a wood bat but also the grind and schedule that professional baseball entails. I learned a whole lot during my first year in pro ball and that experience has helped me to get where I’m at now.”

In 21 games in the Valley, Fedroff hit .319 with 12 RBI and posted a .398 on base percentage. Fedroff reported to his first spring training in 2009 and was assigned to Single-A Kinston of the Carolina League when camp broke. In a season that saw him battle various nagging injuries, Fedroff still managed to bat .278 with 4 homers and 39 RBI and was named to the Carolina League post season All-Star team after a strong second half.

Fedroff hit .338 with two home runs and 35 RBI's for Double-A Akron thsi season before being promoted to Triple-A.

Fedroff reported to spring training in 2010 fresh off of his first full season and was eager to make a lasting impression. General Manager Mark Shapiro and his brass started to give him a taste of big league action by placing Fedroff in several major league spring training games with much of their 40 man roster on the field with him; household names like Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez. He recalls one particular afternoon where he found himself in awe for the first time.

“Ken Griffey Jr. was one of my idols growing up,” Fedroff said. “I had the chance to play in the same spring training game as him I was in complete awe. I was playing centerfield against the Mariners last year and caught a routine fly ball that Griffey had hit to me and I wanted to keep the ball, and probably would have if it wasn’t the second out of the inning.”

In 2010, Fedroff again moved another notch up the organizational ladder by being promoted to the Double-A Akron Aeros of the Eastern League where he had a very average season, hitting .278 with 4 homers and 36 RBI while posting a career low .349 on base mark. After an admittedly sub-par season by his own standards, Fedroff went into this past offseason more focused on baseball than at any other point in his life and it has certainly shown in his dominance across the board in 2011.

Before being promoted to Columbus, Fedroff hit a league best .338 with 2 homers and 35 RBI. During that stretch he posted three double-digit hitting streaks including a league-high 20 game streak which earned him Eastern League Player of the Month honors for May.

“I have worked a lot with the coaching staff to make adjustments,” Fedroff said. “I would say my pre-game routine and mental preparation has changed the most over the past two years. My pre-game routine was almost nonexistent a few years ago and that is not the case now.”

Tim Fedroff: Eastern League Player of the Month for May 2011

In regards to winning May’s Eastern League Player of the Month award, Fedroff said, “I was honored. It was a very rewarding feeling. It’s been a fun season thus far and to see the hard work start to pay off is very rewarding and also very motivating. I just want to continue to improve and get better every day.”

One of the glaring aspects of Fedroff’s game that makes him a bit more special than your prototypical left handed hitter is his dominance against opposing left handed pitching. A career .300 hitter through college and the pro’s against southpaws; Fedroff equates his high success rate to approach.

“I think a lot of that has to do with having a good approach and staying within yourself at the plate,” said Fedroff. “I also grew up hitting batting practice off of my dad who is a southpaw so that probably plays a role as well.”

There is little doubt that the first half of 2011 has put Fedroff’s standing within the organization at an all-time high. His stock as a prospect has never been higher than it has grown to become. It is a true testament to the sacrifice and dedication that Fedroff has put forth into being the best possible player he can be. As the hits keep rolling in and his average continues to sky rocket his long journey to the doorstep of the big leagues approaches.

“I really don’t think about anything like that,” Fedroff said. “I try to control what I can control. I’m focused on showing up to the ball field everyday and working hard and trying to get better, the rest will take care of itself.”

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