AUBURN | It’s only a matter of time until Jeff Gardner’s bat comes around.
The Auburn Doubledays outfielder, who was named the American Athletic Conference player of the year during his final collegiate season at the University of Louisville, has been held to two hits, an RBI and a run over his first five games in the New York-Penn League.
Once Gardner gets adjusted to the professional game, the Washington Nationals' eighth round draft pick this year could become one of the Doubledays’ most consistent bats.
"Personally, I think my biggest tool has always been hitting," Gardner said last week. "I'm able to bring some power to the lineup, but I also pride myself on finding ways to get on base. I haven't done that in my first two outings here, but that's what I pride myself on."
Listed at 6-1, 210 pounds, Gardner provided plenty of power for the Cardinals. In his senior season, he batted .313 and led the team with 20 RBI, nine home runs and 68 RBI.
"He's a big strong dude," said Auburn manager Gary Cathcart. "There's no question about that."
But Gardner’s only talents aren’t in the batter’s box.
"He moves very well for a player his size," Cathcart said. "He moves deceivingly well. He's got a good tool package -- strong arm, ball comes off his bat with a good sound."
Gardner, who was born and raised in Louisville, is beginning his first season away from his hometown. Although it has been a bit of a culture shock, he is prepared to do what it takes to move up in the Nationals organization.
"Getting to go to school in Louisville and being a part of two teams that made it to Omaha, it was a lot of fun," Gardner said. "The positive to going there is my family was able to be at every game, and they were always there."
Whether he’s in Kentucky or New York, Gardner is focused on adjusting to the pro game and improving every day.
"My goal remains the same: be a better baseball player today than I was yesterday," Gardner said. "So if I can show up to the park and get a little bit better today, whatever happens happens."