Regardless of what the sport, there are many athletes who have the physical ability of a professional athlete, but making it comes down to more than just their prowess in their sport.
In almost every case, it is the mental strength that often determines the success of an athlete.
In a sport like baseball with an extensive minor league system, there is an emotional roller coaster the athlete faces daily. It is something that can breakdown even the most physically talented athlete.
For 2013 Foothill High graduate T.J. Friedl, he has faced his fair share of adversity and has persevered, now holding a spot and playing well for the Cincinnati Reds' Triple-A affiliate, the Louisville Bats.
This season in a nutshell has shown the mental resolve of Friedl, who along the way has suffered an ankle injury that needed surgery as well as the COVID-19 pandemic hitting right when he was getting a spring-training shot with the parent club.
After spending some time in the Reds' spring training camp this year, Friedl was assigned to the Bats, the highest level Friedl had achieved since signing in 2016.
Things did not begin well.
"The start was absolutely brutal," Friedl said. "I dropped below .100 in batting. I was pressing, trying to make things happen. It was 1,000% mental pressure on myself. It got to a point where I needed to take a look at everything."
At that point, Friedl made a call to a friend from the University of Nevada at Reno, where Friedl played his college ball. The buddy is involved in the vocation of working with people and their mental aspects of life.
"He really helped me realize that I am in a blessed place," Friedl said. "Basically, it was don't look at the stats. Think about that you have a great life, great wife and a baby on the way." His wife Andressa is due Oct. 24 with the couple's first child.
"All of that helped take the pressure off me," Friedl added.
It worked. As of July 18, Friedl was hitting .284 for the Bats, which is among the team leaders. He has added five home runs, 15 RBIs, and nine stolen bases -- also among the leaders.
He is currently the 16th-ranked prospect in the entire Reds' organization and the No. 4 outfielder. He is blessed with incredible baseball instinct, be it at the plate, on the base paths or patrolling any one of the three outfield positions.
"It was all about enjoying every day and stop worrying about how I was playing," Friedl said.
The problem now -- the depth of the Reds' outfield. The team saw outfielders Nick Castellanos and Jesse Walker start for the National League in the recent All-Star Game.
It is another mental test that Friedl has met head on.
"The easiest way is to not pay attention to it," he said. "I can't control it. I do what I can control, showing the Reds what I can do. Just stay healthy and take advantage when the opportunity presents itself. It easy to get caught up in it -- you just have to stay positive."
The mental strength has also played a big part in helping Friedl handle the level of statistical success in baseball.
"Baseball is such a heavy game of failure," Friedl explained. "You fail seven times out of 10 and you're a Hall of Famer. Any other sport where you fail 7-out-of-10, you are out of a job."
It is a valid statistic, but it also part of Friedl's mindset. When others may view pure numbers as failure, true athletes use them as motivation.
I look forward to the day when Friedl is roaming the Reds outfield and getting it done in the show. Trust me -- it's coming.
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his "Pleasanton Preps" column, email [email protected]