FAU Baseball: Caleb Pendleton hopes to make a statement in his sophomore season

Last season, the catcher played in 31 games, including 28 starts.


Eston Parker III

Sophomore catcher Caleb Pendleton rounding the bases.

Bryce Totz, Sports Editor

Having played multiple sports as a child, sophomore catcher Caleb Pendleton fell in love with baseball.

“My dad gave me an opportunity to play a bunch of sports and every time, I would be like, ‘I just want to go play baseball,’” Pendleton said.

Pendleton played baseball at Jensen Beach High School, located in nearby Martin County. Head coach Corey Cooke said he was a great player.

“He was the ultimate coach’s player,” Cooke said. “From the first moment I got to coach him, he never settled.” 

Pendleton started at third base as a freshman in high school because Jensen Beach had a senior catcher that they did not want to replace. He started catching the following season. 

Cooke — who insists that Pendleton would be on a Major League Baseball team by now if not for the pandemic witnessed Pendleton grow more confident in his role as a star catcher. 

After his last high school season, Pendleton decided to attend Florida Atlantic University where he faced an immediate learning curve. While in high school, the catcher usually calls most of the plays, but in college, the pitcher makes those decisions.

Back when Pendleton was a child, he developed a relationship with coach John McCormack when he was a batboy during his father’s time at FAU. Pendleton’s dad, James, was in charge of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) program at FAU and served as the team chaplain.

McCormack fondly remembers him as a “thick, heavy kid,” and the two joke because his physique is now slender and muscular.

Aside from coaching, McCormack has tried to instill positive lessons to his players like “a great person is good every day,” something Pendleton says he ponders often.

Heading into the 2022 campaign, the Jensen Beach native wants to improve on his plate performance.

“Last year, teams didn’t have a scouting report as being a true freshman,” Pendleton said. “You didn’t really know what to do and now this year, they have a whole year of film and stuff so they understand how to get me out and I feel like I need to get better with pitch recognition and seeing balls in the zone.” 

He also wants to hone in on his skills defensively by focusing on blocking and receiving balls. 

McCormack touched on other areas Pendleton needs to improve.

“He’s working hard on shortening his swing,” he said. “The other thing he has to do is he has to learn patience and aggression and learn when to apply them.”

The mindset around this team is “Only the Family” (OTF), which means the team acts as a group of brothers. 

“Even though you’re friends with them, they don’t mind getting into you if you’re not doing the right thing,” Pendleton said. “I feel like we all gathered around a group and are willing to help keep each other accountable throughout the season with practice.” 

Senior catcher and team captain Nicholas Toney is one of those veterans that has helped Pendleton develop and grow as a teammate and friend.

“There are times when he won’t be sure of something and I will help him out and he will help me out with some things too,” Toney said. “He’s a great kid and we like to have fun on the field.” 

The Jensen Beach native had a solid slash line with a batting average of .252, an on-base percentage of .339, a slugging percentage of .554, and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .863. Defensively, Pendleton’s fielding percentage was .985. 

Notably, Pendleton hit two grand slams in his first two career at-bats on Feb. 21, 2021

“It was crazy. I didn’t think I was going to be playing that day, but I got my chance and that’s one day I will never forget,” Pendleton said. “I will always remember that but then at the same time, I need to put that in the back and realize we have a new year, new games, and a new schedule to worry about.”

His teammates and former coach were ecstatic that he did something so rare. Everyone on base was in the same position for both grand slams redshirt sophomore infielder Steve Loden on first base, junior infielder Jared Desantolo on second, and junior outfielder Mitchell Hartigan on third. 

“I was on the third [base] for both of those and it was just crazy to see,” Hartigan said. “The second time it happened, I was just dumbfounded.”

Hartigan knew Pendleton prior to attending FAU, as the catcher played travel baseball with Hartigan’s younger brother Scott. 

After the second ball left the field, Pendleton flipped his bat and pointed to the dugout. Toney said he hoped someone was filming the moment.

FAU’s season begins with a four-game set against the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers at home starting Feb. 18 and ending Feb. 21. C-USA TV will broadcast all four games. 

Bryce Totz is the Sports Editor at the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @brycetotz.