Andrade Trying to Earn Respect

Steven Andrade was a 32nd Round selection by the Anaheim Angels in the 2001 Major League Baseball Draft. The right-hander posted a 1.16 ERA in 54.1 innings in 2002 at low Class-A and in 2003 posted a 2.65 ERA in 511 innings at Double-A. After posting a 2.44 ERA in Double-A during the 2004 season the Angels put Andrade on waivers, and the right-hander was claimed by the Blue Jays on December 6, 2004. In his first season as a Blue Jays, Andrade was remarkable.

Steve Andrade began the 2005 season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He pitched six-plus innings during the month of April and allowed just one run. He faced a total of twenty-four batters and allowed just two hits, while striking out nine batters. As the month turned Andrade continued his success. He faced a total of forty-seven batters and allowed just four hits. In twelve innings, the right-hander struck out thirteen batters. Hitters began to pick up Andrade during the month of July as they hit a season high .160 off him. The 27-year-old logged fourteen innings and struck out twenty-four batters. In August, he allowed just nine hits as he faced sixty-three batters. Pitching sixteen innings during August, he struck out twenty-three batters. The bottom line was that Andrade was completely dominating in 2005 and never got challenged at Triple-A. He went 3-2 with the Fisher Cats with a 1.97 ERA. Andrade allowed just twenty-three hits in fifty-innings of work, while striking out seventy-one batters.

The Blue Jays sent the right-hander to the Arizona Fall League and in ten games he picked up two saves and posted an ERA of 4.15. Andrade allowed eight hits in thirteen innings of work, and held opponents to a .170 batting average against mark. The California native logged just thirteen innings, but struck out twenty-three batters. In his third game of the Fall League he logged three innings and struck out seven of the ten batters he faced. That performance came three days after he allowed four runs in 1 2/3 innings. Removing that one bad outing, Andrade allowed just two runs in eleven innings of work.

Andrade was not done pitching. He was selected by Team USA to play in the CONCEBE Qualifier. His first appearance came in the teams second of five games. Facing one of their biggest rivals in Mexico, Andrade was summoned by manager Davey Johnson to replace Matt Smith. The game was tied at four and Smith had put runners on all three bases. With two outs in the top of the ninth, Andrade was facing Leo Arauz, who already had driven in a run earlier in the game. The first pitch was a fastball for a called strike, and Arauz took the second pitch for a ball. With the count 1-1 Arauz fouled off the next two pitchers, before grounding out to second base.

During the bottom of the ninth inning, Team USA won it with a single, and Andrade picked up the victory.

Andrade was back on the mound the next day, this time in a save situation. Team USA was leading Nicaragua 7-4 in the bottom of the ninth and Andrade came on to replace Jim Miller. The right-hander needed just sixteen pitches to strike out the side in order, the first and the last of the strikeouts, called.

When you take a look at Andrade's entire season you can make a case it was a career year and one he will remember for a long time.

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