Posted by Mack Ade at 4:00 PM
Mack - The first question is always an easy one, though it might take you a little time to finish it. Take us back to that first day a baseball was placed in your hand and take us up to day. I’m talking 8-11yr. old years, travel teams, positions, coaches, etc.
Andrew: I first started playing baseball when I was 4 years old. Baseball has always been my favorite sport. When I was younger, my dad was always my coach. I started playing travel baseball when I was 10 years old. I started working with my current hitting coach, Drew Cheney, when i was about 8. Drew and my Dad know everything about my swing and when I'm struggling those are the first two people I talk too. When I was 13 I began playing for the East Cobb Astros. I played for the Astros from 13 year old till the fall of 16 year olds. I started playing for Team Elite my 16 year old summer. Team Elite really pushed me to focus a lot on catching. The people that have had the most impact on my baseball career are my parents, Drew Cheney, and my high school coach, Mike Strickland. Coach Strickland has pushed me harder than any coach I have ever had. Coach Strickland has challenged me to not only be a great baseball player but to be a great student, family member, and follower of God. When I was a freshman, I was the starting catcher on the varsity team. We went on to win the state championship that year and the next year. We did not have the most talented team but I learned that hard work does really pay off and team chemistry and momentum may be the two biggest rolls over the course of a baseball game. Now I am a leader on both my High School team and summer team. I am committed to Wake Forest University and things are going great. I have learned a ton from all of my coaches and I hope to continue to improve my skill set through hard work.
Mack - ESPNHS has you currently as the 9th top catcher in next June’s draft. Tell us about your game, both offensively and behind the plate.
Andrew: Offensively, I consider myself an extremely tough out. When I'm seeing the ball well I'm usually very first pitch aggressive. When I'm not seeing the ball as well, I like to go deep in to counts and work to get a fastball I can handle. I have gap power and hit lots of doubles. Also when called upon I can bunt and hit and run. I would say most of my power is from center to left center. I like getting a ball over the plate that I can extend my arms on. Behind the plate I am a strong blocker and have improved my receiving a ton. I try to manage the game the best I can. I usually have a good relationship with all the guys on the team so I feel like the pitchers can really trust me. When a pitcher is struggling I try to lighten things up instead of demanding they throw better.
Mack: Lastly, I’m sure you’ve been busy this summer. Have you played at any level and what are you doing to get ready for the most important season of your young lifetime?
Andrew: This summer I was selected to represent the state of GA at the Junior Sunbelt Classic in Oklahoma for the second time. I also took a trip to Minnesota to compete in the Perfect Game National Showcase in the Metrodome. I also am playing for Team Elite. Brad Bouras and all the other coaches do a great job of scheduling tournaments where we see the best competition. I am training at Baseball Performance Center with Rocky Thorn. Rocky has trained a lot of big leaguers so i feel very confident that I'm getting stronger when working with Rocky. I'm also working on speed and agility at the Ninth Inning in Atlanta Georgia. To improve my catching I am working with former big leaguer Eric McQueen. We are working on a lot of pop time drills and fielding bunts. I will continue to work with my hitting coach, Drew Cheney. I am very excited for this next school season and summer season.
Mack: Congrats on the commitment to Wake. One of the Mets minor league coaches, George Greer, was head coach there for 17 years. What made you pick them?
Andrew - I really liked the coaches. They treated my family and me well. I felt like all the coaches knew a lot and will be able to teach me tons about the game and my position. Also I really liked the campus and the distance from home. There are many reasons why i chose Wake. All the players i met seemed like great guys, and I felt like the Wake Forest family was unlike any other. Also I wanted to attend a great academic college which Wake offers.
Mack: Has there been any thoughts from anyone around you whether you project to remain behind the plate?
Andrew: Some coaches and scouts have asked me about switching to first base but I really like catching. I'm working my hardest to remain behind the plate. I'm becoming quicker and more explosive in order to make more plays as a catcher.
Mack: I think we’ve covered enough. I’ll check back with you around mid-season and see how things are going. Thanks for your time, Andrew.