Using hard work to achieve major dreams

Hart High alum Cole Roederer said coach Jom Ozella taught him valuable lessons that he still uses today, as he works his way up the depth chart as a prospect for the Chicago Cubs. Courtesy South Bend Cubs

Playing baseball for Hart High School was hard work for Cole Roederer. Outside of the usual practices and games, he put in extra time to do sprints on the field or learn more tedious concepts, like the best angles when playing outfield or how to maximize information from a scouting report.

Now, in his first full season of Minor League Baseball with the Single-A South Bend Cubs, he said completing those extra tasks his coach at Hart High, Jim Ozella, assigned him, is paying off.

“That set me aside from every other outfielder, every other player and, honestly, he is a very big role in my career right now,” he said.

Roederer, currently the Chicago Cubs No. 5 prospect, was prepared for the physical demands of playing professional baseball and some of the mental demands, as well; although his tolerance for the latter has developed throughout this season — one that he says has been “kind of a roller coaster.”

There have been over 30 games in which he didn’t record a hit, and he spent some time on the 7-day injury list with a hamstring strain. But there have been highlights, too.

On June 25, Roederer became the first player in South Bend baseball history to hit for the cycle.

“I just remember getting on base and not really realizing it. The only time I actually remember, like, everything being on the line was my triple to left. I wasn’t going for it when I got up there, so when I hit it, I immediately knew what was at stake.”

He also hit two home runs July 18 to bring his season home run total to five, while batting .213 with a .352 slugging percentage.

Dealing with the ups and downs from game to game has been one of the most challenging parts of pro baseball, but Roederer says its helped him develop.

“This game is a game of failure, so I think playing every day and dealing with the failure of every day (is difficult),” he said. “I’m going to go 0-for-4 this day, I’m going to go 3-for-3 the next, trying to find that middle ground where I’m not going too high and then going too low, I’m just trying to keep that middle ground.”

In his senior year of prep baseball at Hart, Roederer had a batting average of .392 and drove in 19 runs while hitting seven home runs in 18 games. Originally committing to UCLA, he was selected 77th in the MLB First-Year Player Draft in 2018, his senior year.

Roederer made the decision to chase his childhood dream and go right into pro ball.

“I felt like I was going into a family and I truly believe that you have to have that feeling when you’re going to sign that contract,” Roederer said.

“This is your life. There’s no pause button, there’s no do-over button, it’s the rest of your life,” he added. “You either sign away your college career or you go into pro ball and you’re going to try to make the dream come true.”

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