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Ex-Maine West shortstop now at home with Cougars
By Marty Maciaszek | Daily Herald Columnist

After starring at Maine West, shortstop Tyler Ladendorf now is a member of the Kane County Cougars.


Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, 2006

Tyler Ladendorf


Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/10/2009 10:47 AM

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Tyler Ladendorf hopes his name eventually becomes more recognizable by major-league baseball fans.

Right now, though, Ladendorf's name isn't well-known outside of friends, family and hard-core baseball fans.

But the former Maine West High School star did get some name recognition at the major-league trading deadline when the Minnesota Twins traded him to the Oakland Athletics for established Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera.

Straight up.

Not bad for a Class A shortstop who is barely a year into a professional career that now has him playing close to home for the Kane County Cougars.

"It's just kind of starting to sink in," Ladendorf said last Thursday before the finale of a series in Appleton, Wis. "Obviously, transactions such as this one don't happen every day.

"It's definitely an honor any time you're traded for a big leaguer. You feel a sense of pride, but it's a matter of still going out and doing the things that got me to this point and made me successful."

Ladendorf was taken by the Twins in the second round with the 60th overall pick of the 2008 draft after two successful years at Howard Community College in Texas. Oakland general manager Billy Beane told the San Francisco Chronicle after the trade he was ready to take Ladendorf with the 61st pick.

Beane got him one year later for Cabrera, a player who helped lead the White Sox to last year's American League Central Division crown.

And even though trade rumors are a daily part of big-league life, Ladendorf said he didn't know what was coming other than the Twins were interested in Cabrera.

"I wouldn't use shock, but it kind of caught me off-guard," Ladendorf said. "You see a lot of trades and you always know you could easily be that guy that is sent off.

"It was more or less surprising it was just me."

Ladendorf is hitting .200 with a 2-run homer in his first 10 games at Kane County after hitting .233 with 4 RBI in 15 games at Midwest League rival Beloit. He began the year in extended spring training to work on shortening and compacting his swing, and he hit .410 with 7 doubles, 4 homers and 17 RBI in 17 games of Rookie ball at Elizabethton (Tenn.).

"Staying in extended spring training was a little disappointing at first but it worked out for the best," Ladendorf said. "There are always adjustments you can make because there really aren't many guys who are perfect."

But Ladendorf, who turned 21 on March 7, has been making progress after hitting .204 in 45 games of Rookie ball last year. He said the difference in the jump to Class A is significant with pitchers able to locate their fastballs better and mix in more off-speed stuff.

"Toward the end of extended spring training and the Appalachian (Rookie) League I felt really good and I was just starting to feel more comfortable day by day," Ladendorf said. "You don't expect to come up here and hit .300. If that was the case I would have been here all year."

Now he gets to spend the rest of the year with friends and family cheering him on from the Elfstrom Stadium stands in Geneva.

Staying in the Midwest League helped ease the transition along with a couple of familiar faces at Kane County in former New Trier star Dusty Napoleon and one-time summer teammate Kenny Smalley.

But Ladendorf hopes he isn't home for long.

"As far as having to make that transition, you couldn't ask for a better situation to be thrown into," Ladendorf said. "I'm sure there will be 20 to 30 friends and family at every home game.

"It will be fun to enjoy the last month of the season and enjoy the overall experience. But at the same time, it's a matter of going out and doing your job every day."

Because some day soon Tyler Ladendorf would like for a lot of big-league baseball fans to remember he was traded for Orlando Cabrera.