Former Wolverines’ catcher lands with Owlz

Kevin Arendse’s arm at the plate caught the attention of the Orem Owlz. Courtesy of UVU Athletics

The Orem Owlz needed a catcher. Kevin Arendse just needed a chance. The end result satisfied both parties, with the former UVU catcher getting an unexpected shot without needing to look for it.

Owlz manager, Tom Kotchman, called it a case of “things just working out.” Arendse couldn’t be happier that they did.
“It’s pro baseball,” Arendse said. “I’m really excited. It’s awesome.”

The opportunity came after Arendse thought he had exhausted his chances of playing professional ball. Tryouts with the Seattle Mariners and the MLB Scouting Bureau yielded nothing, sending Arendse home resigned to a career ending at the college level.

Three weeks into the season, the Owlz found themselves thin at the catcher position.

Kotchman voiced his concern about the shortage to a UVU official at Brent Brown Ballpark following a game. The official told Kotchman the Wolverines had just seen their starting catcher graduate, and that his talent behind the plate merited a look.

A pleasantly surprised, but realistic, Arendse accepted the invitation.

“I wasn’t really trying to get my hopes up,” Arendse confessed. “I’d been at the other tryouts, so this was just another tryout. I didn’t want to count my blessings before anything happened for sure.”

Kotchman was already counting in his head, however, tantalized by the burly catcher’s 60 percent throw-out clip. Combine that with his .338 batting average and 48 RBIs from last season, and Kotchman was more than willing to give Arendse an opportunity.

“Anytime a catcher throws out 60 percent of base runners, that’s impressive,” Kotchman said. “I don’t care what level you play in, that deserves a look.”

Arendse’s tryout showed enough potential to net a deal with the Los Angeles Angels and get him assigned to the Owlz.

As of last Monday, he had yet to get out of the dugout. Arendse’s patience, combined with the minor league’s opportunity-friendly system, leaves no doubt in the catcher’s mind his on-field chance will come.

“I’m just waiting for my chance,” Arendse said. “We’ve got a great coaching staff here. When they decide it’s my time, I’ll give it all I’ve got and make the most of it.”

Arendse has already shown himself capable of seizing the moment – he was the hero in the 2010 Great West Conference championship game, hitting a walk-off RBI base hit in the tenth inning.

While it’s uncertain if or how Arendse will make his mark, Kotchman saw the signing process as a foreshadowing of things to come.

“Things just have a way of working out,” Kotchman said. “That’s all that happened, and I’m sure that’s what will happen.”

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