Sam Hentges is living the dream of so many children throughout the country. He was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the fourth round of the 2014 draft right out of high school and signed his first pro contract just moments after his high school team won the state championship.
He currently plays for the Indians’ Single-A team, the Lake County Captains, where he is 2-4 with a 6.12 ERA in 60.1 innings pitched so far this season. He was kind enough to speak to Baseball Essential’s Stevie Larson.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“I’ve always wanted to be a professional baseball player growing up. Now my next big goal is making it to the big leagues and staying there.”
When did you realize that you had a chance to play professionally?
“I started talking to professional scouts as a sophomore, but I was a first baseman at the time. I realized that my ticket to professional baseball was going to be as a pitcher the summer before my senior season.”
What team did you grow up cheering for?
“I’ve always been a Twins fan my whole life.”
How did you spend draft day?
“I was actually getting ready for my graduation party which was the day after the draft. My parents and I were on the phone and watching it on the computer when I got drafted.”
Who has helped you the most during your journey?
“I would have to give the most credit to my dad. He was the one who taught me the game of baseball and coached me growing up. I appreciate everything he has done for me and I am glad that I can take his coaching and turn it into something that makes him so proud.”
How long do you think it will take for you to play in the major leagues?
“It is different for every player. I am just trying to stay healthy and work hard day in and day out in the weight room and on the field to achieve my ultimate goal.”
Did you ever consider going to college instead of signing?
“It was a decision that my family and I talked about after I was drafted, but in the end, we believed it was the best decision for me and my family to take the offer from the Indians and begin my professional career.”
Why did you ultimately choose to sign with Cleveland?
“I knew that they were very interested in my from the start. They attended every game I pitched during my senior season. I knew that they had a very good organization and learned last summer that they are very attentive and want the best for you in every way. I know that I made the right choice by signing with them.”
Did you think you would go higher or lower?
“I am just very happy to be where I am today. The place where I was drafted doesn’t mean anything now — they treat everyone equal as a player. I didn’t know where I would be drafted, but I am just very fortunate that I was drafted by the team I was and I feel like I’m in a very good position today.”
Were you surprised at where you were drafted?
“No, I wasn’t surprised at where I was drafted.”
How is life in the minor leagues treating you?
“Life in the minor leagues isn’t glamorous by any means. When at home, we get to the field around 1:00 for a 7:00 pm game. Work out, stretch, throw, run, shag BP, etc. You do whatever you need to do on that day before the game. Away games are similar, except there are bus trips. This year, for me, there aren’t any bus trips over 10 hours, so that is nice. It’s still a lifestyle that I love, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”
Are the minor leagues like what you expected?
“The minors are a little bit what I expected. The things I did not expect were how the season feels so long. It’s a long season and we play a lot of games. You need to keep your body ready for every single day, whether you’re eating healthy, stretching it the correct way, or just simply sleeping enough every night.”
Looking back, do you feel that you made the right decision to sign?
“I have never regretted my decision to go pro. My family and I made the decision together and we thought that was the better option for me in my life and baseball career, and I completely agree with that decision.”
If you could do the draft process all over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
“I wouldn’t have done the draft process different I don’t believe. I was drafted out of high school to play professional baseball; that alone is a dream come true. On top of that, they’ll pay you to play baseball? An offer any kid couldn’t turn down. As far as rounds go, the organization puts us all on the same team, so it doesn’t really matter where you’re drafted as long as you are.”