Big, strong, consistent and resilient are just a few words that describe Linfield's middle-of-the-order power hitter Clayton Truex.
The Kirkland, Wash., native transferred to Linfield after one year at Washington State University. All he has been doing for the Wildcats since his arrival has been supplying power, producing hits and playing solid defense.
“When I went to Washington State my freshman year, I wasn't developed enough physically,” Truex says. “It probably would've taken two years for me to get into the lineup. So I thought that I'd rather go to a place that is focused more on development.
Wildcats coach Scott Brosius, who fashioned a memorable professional career by honing his own baseball skills - first and Linfield and then in the minor leagues - was just the kind of teacher Truex was in need of.
“Brosius told me that everyone gets a shot when they come to Linfield and that nothing is pre-set.”
Truex is interested in following his coach's baseball path beyond college and has been in contact with several major league baseball affiliates. If a professional baseball career doesn't pan out, he may consider attending law school.
“I've been talking to the Miami Marlins, Oakland Athletics, and New York Mets. Hopefully it all works out,” Truex says.
Switching schools was not the first time Truex made a change in his life appear seamless. Throughout his first couple years of high school, he played second base. Then during his junior year, he sprouted from 5-foot-8 to a towering 6-foot-3 and transitioned into a first baseman.
Truex has used his size and skills to his advantage so far this spring, hitting .355 with 54 hits, 41 RBI and four home runs. His defense is another reason he's been in the starting lineup in all 40 of the Wildcats' games.
“Having him to throw to at first is great. He totally takes the pressure off me to make perfect throws and is always making plays over there,” says shortstop Corey VanDomelen. “Last year, he was a huge help in helping me gain confidence at shortstop.”
Brosius admires the effort Truex puts into baseball. On the field, Truex works consistently in practice. Away from the field, he's a frequent visitor to the weight room.
“He's imposing,” Brosius says. “When he steps into the batter's box, pitchers and people take notice. He is one of the most physically strong and prepared players that we've had in a long time.”
Truex's favorite part about Linfield baseball is the team mentality.
“People always talk about your team being a family. But a lot of time in competitive sports, you don't feel that because everyone is gunning for each other and trying to play,” he says. “But here, it's not that way. Every guy on this team is pulling for you, and that's why we're so successful.”
The Linfield first baseman loves that Brosius believes in his players and that team members use humor to relax and calm down one another.
“Our team is kind of goofy. It's a top to bottom sort of thing. Coach Brosius lets his players play. He's not the overbearing or yelling type of guy. He trusts the people he puts out there and trusts us to get the job done,” Truex says. “We couldn't of have a better team chemistry if we picked the guys out by hand. When you're with your family, it makes every day really fun.”
Truex's teammates can also relate to his humorous side.
“We like to joke around a lot on the field,” VanDomelen says. “Tru and I probably carry out 90 percent of our conversations through quoting movies, TV shows and YouTube videos.”
Academically, Truex is a political science major and feels as though he is constantly reading. The nature of his coursework teaches him how to be efficient and retain information.
“It's a lot of reading. I'll have classes where I have to read 150 pages by the next class session,” Truex says.
As further preparation for a future career in the field of law, Truex completed an internship with the McMinnville district attorney's office this spring. But for now, the focus remains on baseball, with hopes for both a lengthy playoff run and a chance at making it in the pros.
- Rhys Lendio ‘17