Jeff Bajenaru
Jeff Bajenaru
Sport/Entity: Baseball, Class of 1998
Year Inducted: 2015
Category: Male Athlete

A graduate of Ayala High School in Chino, Bajenaru became a two-way weapon for the Tigers, playing right field and closing out games. During his tenure at RCC, he earned all-conference, all-region and all-state honors. He hit .408 with four home runs, 22 doubles, two triples and 57 RBIs his sophomore season. On the mound, he had a 1-1 record with 20 strike outs in 10 innings. He finished the year with a 2.12 ERA.

For his career at RCC, Bajenaru hit .380 (153 hits) with 115 runs scored, 35 doubles and 202 total bases. He knocked in 111 runs in his two-year career. The Tigers were 74-24 with a conference title during his RCC career. The Oakland Athletics drafted him in the 13th round after his sophomore season at RCC, but he elected not to sign instead accepting a scholarship at the University of Oklahoma. After his junior season Bajenaru was once again drafted, this time in the 36th round by the Chicago White Sox but again decided to return to school. In 2000, his senior season, he hit .342 with 11 HRs and 58 RBI. On the mound he was 1-2 with 20 saves (setting a conference and Oklahoma record for season and career saves) and a 2.62 ERA.

He was a first team All-American as a utility player and a first team Big 12 Conference selection as an outfielder and second team Big 12 Conference pick as a relief pitcher. Projected to be taken between the second and fifth rounds of the 2000 draft, Bajenaru instead signed with the White Sox as a non-drafted free agent in May, prior to the draft. During his professional career, Bajenaru generally worked as a closer, striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings and collecting 24 wins and 91 saves in relief.

He missed the 2002 season as a result of Tommy John surgery, but recovered resuming his career in 2003. He made his major league debut with the White Sox on September 4, 2004. He was a member of the 2005 World Series Championship Chicago White Sox team and the Pacific Coast League Champion Tucson Sidewinders team in 2006.

In his five full minor league seasons he participated in three all-star games. He ended up retiring from professional baseball, while a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008 due to two separate shoulder surgeries. Today, he is a minor league pitching instructor with the Diamondbacks and gives private hitting and pitching lessons.