- Full name Jeffrey Michael Bajenaru
- Born 03/21/1978 in Pomona, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 200 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Oklahoma
- Debut 09/04/2004
- Drafted in the 36th round (1,089th overall) by the Chicago White Sox in 1999.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Bajenaru has paid his dues and is pounding on the door for a chance in the Chicago bullpen after making sporadic big league appearances the last two years. The White Sox drafted him in the 36th round in 1999, and they retained his rights because he was a fifth-year senior in 2000. They failed to sign him before the draft, but came to terms with him as a nondrafted free agent. A former two-way star at Oklahoma, he achieved immediate results when he became a full-time pitcher, but blew out his elbow and missed the entire 2002 season after Tommy John surgery. Bajenaru relies on a low-90s fastball with sinking action and a quality splitter. He ranked second among Triple-A International League relievers with a .185 opponent average and third with a .548 opponent OPS last year. After nibbling too much during his brief callup in 2004, he made it a point to throw strikes during last September's cameo--and paid for it by serving up two homers. He has value to the White Sox but could be most useful as trade bait.
Give Bajenaru credit for his persistence. A two-way star at Oklahoma who signed as a fifth-year senior draft-and-follow in 2000, he cracked this Top 30 list after his first pro season. But he missed all of 2002 following Tommy John surgery, and the White Sox didn't protect him on their 40-man roster following the 2003 season. Bajenaru pitched himself back into their good graces last year, saving 22 games with a 1.51 ERA in the minors and making his major league debut in September. He got hit hard with Chicago because he was too tentative with his pitches and also may have been tired. Bajenaru operates with two pitches, a low-90s sinker and a splitter. He keeps the ball down in the strike zone and didn't beat himself with walks or homers--until he got to the majors. He may need to develop an offspeed pitch to keep hitters off his sinker/splitter combination. The signing of free agent Dustin Hermanson probably means that Bajenaru will open 2005 in Triple-A.
How do the White Sox keep finding guys like Bajenaru? They took a flier on the right fielder/reliever with a 36th-round pick in the 1999 draft but couldn't sign him. Because he was a fifth-year senior at Oklahoma, a rarely used rule allowed the Sox to hold onto his rights until the 2000 draft. They signed him just before the 2000 draft after he hit .342 with 11 homers and saved 20 games to earn third-team All-America honors. Bajenaru had smooth sailing as a pro, using his 93-95 mph fastball to overpower hitters. The Sox believe they'll really have something after he finds a breaking ball he can consistently throw for strikes. Because he'll be 23 before the 2001 season starts, he'll probably be pushed to Double-A at some point during the year, possibly at the start.