Catcher Jordan Comadena signed as an undrafted free agent before the 2009 season (a story which will be addressed directly) and has split time between Lexington and Lancaster over the past two seasons. He was good enough to answer a few questions for us.
AC: You had a solid career at Purdue, hitting .340/.455/.620 as a junior before breaking your hand. What was your mindset going into your senior season, the following off-season, and the draft?
JC: My mindset going into my senior season was to try and duplicate what I had going during my junior year. Following my junior year, where surgery ended my season, I came back and played my third summer in Madison in the (Northwoods League), I got healthy and got back to hitting leadoff up there. I had my best summer of the three that year hitting .294 with an OBP around .460. I felt like I had shown that my hand was healthy that I hadn't lost anything in my swing. My senior year came around and I did put pressure on myself to perform, but that was no different than any other time. I got off to a decent start that season but was never able to get over the hump and really get hot. I hit a countless number of balls hard right at people and I was moved from hitting leadoff to hitting fourth. I was never really able to make that adjustment and I struggled. It was a very frustrating season. Despite the down year I still felt that my total body of work, including summer ball, would warrant me getting drafted by someone. When the draft came and went I was extremely upset and frustrated. Getting drafted had been my life long dream and I was not able to fulfill it. With the draft gone I turned my attention to trying to get signed with someone. I called everyone that I knew in baseball trying to get an opportunity and no one wanted to sign me. I worked out for a few independent teams and still could not find a job. I eventually decided to shut it down for that summer, finish my degree at Purdue and try again next year.
AC: One of the best stories we've heard in a while is about how former Astros great Jimmy Wynn discovered you playing in a Northwoods League alumni game. From your perspective, how did that all take place?
JC: This is a crazy story. After my long and frustrating summer with no baseball, I was invited up to Madison to play in their alumni game at the end of the summer. The game featured former Mallards players as well former MLB greats like Vida Blue, Fergie Jenkins, Blue Moon Odom, and others. Madison would draw roughly 7,000 a night so this alumni game even drew about 4,000 people. I was hesitant to go up and play in the game because I was embarassed of not getting drafted. I had been a big part of the organization's success during my three summers and I had even gotten my number 14 retired earlier in that summer. I was certainly a fan favorite. So I went to the game because I felt like I owed it to the GM and the owner because they had done so much for me. I played in the game, and I played hard as I always do. I also played shortstop, which ironically, was the only position that I did not play during my time in Madison (and I also never pitched). In the game I went 2-3 with two doubles and four RBI. I also turned a double play at short and made a couple other plays.
After the game Mr. Wynn approached me and asked me why I wasn't playing anywhere? I explained to him my situation and how I very much wanted to continue playing. He said that he would talk to the Astros about me. I said thank you and didn't think anything of it. As time passed into the fall I got an email from him that said he had talked to the Astros and that he would keep me posted. At this point I began to feel as if something may happen. Winter had now come and in the mean time I had signed to play for the Gary Railcats of the Northern League. I finally got an email in December from Mr. Wynn that said the Astros wanted to sign me, that was the last I heard from him. I had a million questions and was very excited so I had to wait for a phone call. Finally on January 8, 2009, (Director of Research and Analysis) Charlie Norton called me in the evening and asked me how I felt about signing with the Houston Astros? I was happier than I can even explain. Finally I would get an opportunity with an affiliated club.
AC: You've been back and forth between Lancaster and Lexington. What's the hardest part of that transition?
JC: Honestly the biggest transition for me comes off the field. For me, moving all my stuff creates stress for me. I'm a very organized person and I have a lot of stuff, so moving is no small task. Getting everything from point A to point B is the hardest thing for me. Also, I like to get into a nice daily routine and stick with it. A change in scenery and setting changes my routine. From a baseball standpoint I don't feel there is much difference at all between Low- and High-A. I felt much more comfortable in Lancaster than I did in Lexington.
AC: Looking at your 2010 stats, it seems as though you were pretty unlucky, with a .208 BABIP in 2010. How do you handle that, from a mental aspect?
JC: Well, when you don't play everyday it's important to get your extra work in and try and stay sharp and ready for when you are called upon. From my standpoint I just tried to get a good pitch to hit and hit the ball hard. I had a lot of good at bats, especially in the second half of the season. I hit a lot of balls hard right at people. I just didn't have enough at bats for things to even out. It's frustrating when you hit a couple balls hard and go 0-4 because you know you won't play tomorrow and it'll be a few days before you get another chance. Also a 1-4 or 2-4 would raise your average significantly. It's hard to get into a groove at the plate when the ABs don't come frequently. Another mental tip is to try and pull anything you can out of the game that was positive, like moving a runner, executing a hit and run, getting a sac bunt down, driving in a run from third with less than two outs. Even if you go 0-4, and you can do a couple of those things you have to make yourself feel like it was still a good day bc you did your job in those situations. Its a brutal game when you play everyday, it's even tougher when you don't.
AC: What are your plans for this off-season?
JC: This offseason I'll be doing some traveling. I'm actually writing these answers from the airport terminal in Tampa, FL. I'm also going to Toronto Canada next week to see some friends of mine. I might try and attend a couple more Steelers games as well. Also, I'll be working in Lafayette, IN where I live with my girlfriend, doing some hitting lessons. I'm able to workout at Purdue and mix in with the team when I want. It's very nice to be able to use the facilities here.
Big thanks to Jordan, and we'll try to check in with him later in the off-season.