Big League Dreams: Andrew Waszak
A Look at Chinooks in the Minor Leagues
Andrew Waszak – Atlanta Braves – Danville Braves (Rookie)
To date, no Chinooks alum pitcher has pitched more innings in professional baseball than Michigan State graduate, Andrew Waszak. Since being drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 22nd Round of the 2013 MLB Draft, the right-handed pitcher has logged 145 innings of work and has his sights set on moving up in the Braves’ system. As a key contributor on the Chinooks’ debut squad in 2012, Waszak was steady and efficient in his approach to his Northwoods League experience as he made seven starts, each of which lasted six or more innings. His Lakeshore experience was cut short as he quickly reached a work limit determined by his MSU coaches, but he posted a 3-1 record with a 4.36 ERA and 21 strike-outs.
Waszak, who hails from Rochester Hills, MI where he received all-state honors at Adams High School, returned for a stellar 2013 season at Michigan State. Named as the Big Ten Player to Watch in 2013, the Braves were impressed by Andrew’s steady senior performance in which he posted a 2.36 ERA and a 6-3 record in 91 innings for the Spartans. Once again, his reputation as a steady innings-eater helped draw attention from scouts and propelled Waszak to a solid rookie season with Atlanta’s rookie level team in Danville, VA. Competing in the Appalachian League, Waszak posted a solid 2.03 ERA in 53.1 innings and was honored as the Danville Braves Pitcher of the Year.
This past summer, Waszak was on the move as he started the 2014 season with the Lynchburg Hillcats, Atlanta’s Advanced A squad and was just one step away from AA. After struggling in nine starts with his mechanics and confidence, however, Waszak was reassigned to the Rome Braves for two games and then returned to the Braves’ training facility in Orlando to regain his form. “I got moved down for lack of production,” says Waszak. After retooling his game, Waszak returned to Danville to prove to the organization that he still had what it takes. Despite posting a 9.20 ERA in Lynchburg and struggling in his two appearances at Rome, Waszak rebounded with a solid 4.44 ERA in 73 innings of work during his second tour in Danville. He also vowed to learn from the experience. “Last season happened for the best though,” says Waszak. “I faced adversity, and now this season is a new one and I will overcome that adversity and hopefully show the organization I’m the same pitcher that I was my first season, and even more experienced and developed.”
For Waszak to make the coveted jump to AA he’ll need to build upon his consistency, saying “I have to stay consistent with everything I do. I have to keep the same mindset whether I’m doing well or poorly. I also have to keep a consistency with all of my pitches. Everything works off a pitcher’s fastball, so that has to be the pitch that I control and command the best, both 4 and 2 seam.” That requires great conditioning and the ability to stay focused during a long minor league season, so Waszak has spent the offseason getting ready. “I have been getting my body in better shape for the coming season– throwing, lifting, and conditioning. I’ve visited some family members as well, since this is the only time I am available.”
|Waszak on the mound for the Danville Braves|
As Waszak heads to spring training in Orlando, he’ll be working near the major league roster players and hopes to once again draw inspiration to spur his major league dreams. “It shows you where you can be and drives you to want to be where they are at,” says the former Chinook. “Having that vision in front of you is definitely extra motivation.” As Braves training camp opens, time will tell if Waszak has regained his form and if he can be the first Chinook pitcher to reach the Double-A level.