July 20, 2010
AUBURN, Ala. -
The Auburn baseball coaching staff will have three less holes to fill next season as Justin Fradejas, Bradley Hendrix and Kevin Patterson have all told the coaches that they intend to return for their senior seasons.
"We are ecstatic that Justin, Bradley and Kevin are returning to Auburn for their senior seasons. They will continue their outstanding Auburn careers and provide our 2011 team with toughness and leadership," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "There is no substitute for having experienced winners on your team and these three players were a big reason that Auburn won the SEC West in 2010. Our fans should look forward to watching them play again in Plainsman Park next season."
Fradejas was a 35th round pick of the Colorado Rockies in June's Major League Baseball Draft but will instead come back for his second year with Auburn. A junior college transfer prior to the 2010 season, he hit .358 with 69 hits, 52 runs scored and a team-high 14 stolen bases. Playing in both center and right fields, he had a .976 fielding percentage last season, committing just three errors in 121 chances, making highlight-reel catches throughout the season.
"I love Auburn and we had an awesome last year and I wasn't ready to leave," Fradejas said. "Hopefully I can come back for my senior season and we can go further than we did last year and hopefully make it to Omaha."
Hendrix was a 30th round pick of the Cincinnati Reds but will instead return for his fourth season with Auburn. A right-handed reliever that has made 58 career relief appearances, he was 4-2 with a 5.35 ERA in 33 2/3 innings in 2010 with one save. Sporting a career record of 12-7, he led the team in wins as a sophomore with a 7-3 mark, coming out of the bullpen for all 24 of his appearances, throwing 46 innings and putting together a 5.09 ERA.
"I am definitely excited about coming back. I had a really fun year last year. I improved a lot and I think the expectations have risen," Hendrix said. "I expect to do more this year and help us go further. I still have a lot to prove and I am excited about my senior year and being a leader on the team."
Patterson was a 23rd round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays but will also return for a fourth season at Auburn. Last year he had his finest year at the plate since arriving at Auburn, hitting a career-best .315 with 39 hits, 16 of which went for extra-bases, and a .533 slugging percentage in just 124 at bats. Over the course of three seasons he has hit .265 with 20 doubles, five triples and 27 home runs, driving in 77 RBI.
"I am coming back because Auburn is a great place to play. Even though I did get drafted, after looking at all my options I felt that coming back to Auburn and playing every day and being in a fulltime role would help me from a baseball standpoint," Patterson said. "More importantly I am two semesters away from finishing my degree. I just had to take a step back and look at the whole big picture. One more year of school in the long run will probably be more beneficial for me."
Auburn had a school record 11 players drafted in the 2010 MLB Draft, nine of which were juniors. Of the nine eligible to return, five have signed, four of which were drafted in the top 11 rounds of the draft (Trent Mummey - Baltimore - fourth round; Hunter Morris - Milwaukee - fourth round; Cole Nelson - Detroit - 10th round; Grant Dayton - Florida - 11th round) as well as Stephen Kohlscheen (Seattle - 45th round).
Still weighing his options is Brian Fletcher, a 17th round pick of the Kansas City Royals. The deadline for teams to sign their draft picks is Monday, Aug. 16.
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