Kendall has perfect pro debut with Raptors

Dodgers first-rounder goes 3-for-3 with two RBIs, flashes speed

Jeren Kendall was named first-team All-Southeastern Conference as a junior this season. (Bayleigh Schroeder/Ogden Raptors)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | July 19, 2017 2:25 AM

As someone who's been focused on the word "go" for the past three years, Jeren Kendall had a tough time waiting to play baseball.

After his Vanderbilt squad was eliminated by Oregon State in the NCAA Super Regional on June 10, the Dodgers' first-round pick had to wait to get back in a game. But after working out and observing Rookie-level Arizona League games, he finally stepped into the batter's box for real.

And he relished it.

In his professional debut, Kendall went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, a stolen base and two runs scored on Tuesday as Rookie-level Ogden rolled to a 17-8 victory over Helena at Lindquist Field.


Gameday box score


"I really enjoyed the first day. Glad to be back on the field, it was nice," Kendall said. "I was getting pretty anxious. I was at Arizona, watching those games, and all I could do was sit there and watch, which wasn't that bad for me. It was nice to have some time off after my year. But, no, I was glad that I could finally jump back in and be on the field with these guys."

Earlier Tuesday, Kendall flew to Utah and was informed he would start as he went straight from the airport to the ballpark and the 21-year-old jogged out to center field for the first time as a professional athlete.

Two pitches into his first game, Kendall made his first contribution, catching a fly ball off the bat of Dallas Carroll for the first out of the night.

"You got to assume that you're the new guy here, you're definitely going to get the first ball," he said. "It's like when you come in late, wherever you are, you're definitely going to get the first ball. So I was ready and it was nice to get my feet under me for the second pitch there."

In the home half of the opening inning, Kendall continued the theme of quick contributions, knocking a 1-0 offering from Alec Bettinger to second baseman Franly Mallen. The left-handed hitter raced down the line for an infield single.

"I'm just on go right away. I saw four pitches all day, which is nice. That's how I play the game. I'm on go," he said. "It's nice just to put the ball in play and get my legs underneath me and run down to first. It was exciting, it really was. I don't really know what to think about it. It happened and, hopefully, there's a lot more to come."

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Because his team batted around in the first, Kendall didn't have to wait long for his next knock. In the second and fourth innings, the center fielder slapped the first pitch he saw back up the middle for a pair of singles. The latter hit drove in Tyler Adkison and Moises Perez in a 10-run outburst.

"That was fun, the game was coming my way," Kendall said. "I got a lot of opportunities to hit fastballs and a lot of good pitches to swing at."

The Wisconsin native said that whenever he gets on, he wants to take advantage of his speed. And with a green light in the fourth, he racked up another first as he stole second.

Commodores coach Tim Corbin instills an "on-go" mentality, and Kendall said he applies it to all parts of his game as he ventures into the next phase of his career.

"Everybody should be running, everybody should be on go. It doesn't matter where you hit in the lineup or what kind of bat you have," he added. "We all think you should do the simple things of the game. Legs and speed is the one thing that doesn't slump in this game, which is nice. So we all try to emulate that."

Knowing ahead of time that his pro debut would be an abbreviated one, Kendall got to sit back and watch his teammates protect a 15-6 lead.

Eighteen-year-old left fielder Starling Heredia boosted his average to .462 with three knocks and two RBIs, while pinch-hitter Luiz Paz slugged his Pioneer League-leading 10th homer, a two-run shot in the eighth.

Reliever Vinny Santarsiero (1-0) got the win after allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts over three innings. 

Dallas Carroll homered and drove in three runs for the Brewers, who got three hits and two RBIs from Gabriel Garcia.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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