Single-A Hagerstown Suns prospect Randolph Oduber has remained very consistent through the first seven weeks of the season, appearing as the designated hitter or in the outfield on a stocked roster.
The “Groovin’ Aruban”, as fans and broadcasters like to call him, burst on the scene last year with an eye-opening .366 average in 39 games in the Gulf Coast League in 2010, crushing four homers with 30 RBIs, stealing 18 bases and earning Most Valuable Player honors.
The 22-year-old left-handed hitter has hit .297 in his last 10 games and is .274 overall in 35 games with three homers, 15 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.
When I caught up with Oduber last week, he was battling through a 5-for-26 stretch.
“I have been hitting the ball pretty well,” Oduber said. “I have been struggling a little bit. That is baseball. You just got to get used to it and work with it. Every day is a different day.”
But even with his recent battles at the plate, Oduber is thrilled to get the shot in Hagerstown and be on a team with so many top-flight Nationals’ prospects.
“I am very excited,” Oduber said. “I knew from day one this team was a great team. In spring training, we played very well. I am very happy to play with these guys every day. It is a great club, not only on the field, but off the field.”
Oduber said Suns’ hitting coach and former major leaguer Marlon Anderson has had the young outfielder concentrate on his timing in the batter’s box.
“It is not only something I am dealing with this year, it is pretty much every year I have trouble with it,” Oduber said. “It is going to get better. I will just work on that and get back on track.”
Oduber said playing alongside the multi-talented Bryce Harper, Wade Moore and Michael Taylor in the Suns’ outfield has made him an even better player. They are learning how to roam the inconsistent grass and monitor uneven outfield walls you would expect at different stops in the South Atlantic League.
“I saw that (we were going to be good) in spring training,” Oduber said.”When we came here, they talked to us about this outfield. We worked on the track, the wall and the grass. (Each day,) you can see the results. We are playing very good outfield defense, getting good communication with each other. It is going pretty good right now.”
Oduber keeps his goals for the season in simple focus. He wants to improve his game and get promoted. The reason all these potential young stars of the future are here right now.
“I want to stay relaxed during the game, get my timing down and have a great season,” Oduber said. “Pretty much, (my goal is to) get moved up if God wants (me to be). I am very proud of my (accomplishments). I know I am working very hard. I know that not every time things go your way, but you just got to keep working hard and never give up.”