After batting just .244 at Myrtle Beach – the High-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves – Andrus hit an even .300 in 27 games for the High-A Bakersfield Blaze. In addition to his improvement at the plate, the shortstop flashed his gold-glove potential in the field with outstanding range and a strong arm.
The Rangers invited the 19-year-old prospect to their fall instructional league shortly after the 2007 season came to a close. Andrus was also selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League – a league typically reserved for prospects at the Double-A level and above – as shortstop Joaquin Arias continued to nurse a shoulder injury. Andrus is currently on the taxi squad, meaning he is allowed to be activated on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The native of Venezuela is 4-for-15 with one double, one triple, and three stolen bases in four games with the AFL's Surprise Rafters.
Lone Star Dugout was recently able to catch up with Andrus for a question-and-answer session.
Jason Cole: How did you feel about the way you finished the season in Bakersfield?
Elvis Andrus: It was real good for me. In the last month, I played really well. I could really show the people that said I can't hit that I can. It was good. I feel really good about the organization and everything. When you're feeling good, you're playing good, and you're playing happy, everything is going to go well. I hope I can keep going well with this team and play in the big leagues.
Cole: Once you joined the Rangers organization from the Braves system, did you make any adjustments at the plate? Did the Rangers do anything to help you out?
Andrus: Not really. I just kept working hard and everything. You're going to have problems during your career. That's human, you're human. You're going to make mistakes. But I worked hard every day and finally the last month I hit well and I felt good at the plate. Everything is getting better. But I was still the same. I worked hard every day with early work, early hitting, and everything.
Cole: What have you been focusing on at the plate in the AFL and instructs?
Andrus: We're working on my stance. I have a little problem when I started the season. When I hit, I was too much on my front leg. I don't have balance, like we say. That's the most important thing for me when hitting. When I came here with the Rangers, my hitting coach was Brant Brown. We were practicing every morning. It was about staying back, staying behind the ball, and staying inside the ball. That really helped me during the last month. I made the adjustment and I finished strong. That was what we were working on. Staying back and not to be hurrying to hit the ball. I have quick hands so I just need to think and believe in my hands.
Cole: Have you been working on anything else?
Andrus: I changed a little bit of my hitting stance. I was too open and now I'm a little more square. The thing was getting in a better position to hit the ball and get more power to hit the ball. That was a big jump for me in the instructional league. I really worked hard every day with my hitting coaches. Now in the Fall League I've still made that adjustment and I feel really good. I feel better with my stance and with my hitting. I'm hitting the ball better and I see the pitches better. That's everything about hitting.
|Andrus has the system's best range at shortstop. b>|
Andrus: Not really. I had a plan to play in the winter league in my country. The Rangers just brought me here and the last day before I came here, Scott Servais called me and he told me ‘bring more clothes'. I was like, ‘oh, yeah? Why?' He said it was because they were putting me in the Fall League. I think Joaquin Arias – another shortstop – he got injured. He was supposed to play in the Fall League, but then they put me in the Fall League. I said that was good and it was going to be good for me. I know that's a good league with good players and good prospects, the best prospects in the minor leagues. It was real cool. It was good news for me.
Cole: What is it like playing alongside so many different prospects in the Fall League?
Andrus: It's really cool because you can show your talent to all the people. That's when you really show your talent, when you play with a lot of competition. Those guys are in Double-A, Triple-A, and there are some big leaguers in there too. That's really good competition and that's where they want to see you play. They don't want to see you playing with younger guys. They want to see you play with guys at a level better than you.
Cole: You're the youngest guy in the Fall League and you're hitting pretty well so far. What does that do for your confidence?
Andrus: I believe in my tools and I believe in all I practiced in the instructional league with my coaches. I don't really care about being the younger guy or the young kid. I just go and play. I don't really care or think about that. I'm a man too, so I just go and play hard. When you play hard, things are going to happen no matter if you're a young guy or an old guy.
Cole: After you finish the Fall League season, are you going to be playing winterball in Venezuela?
Andrus: We're talking right now. The Texas Rangers and my team in Venezuela, they're talking about that. They're talking about maybe giving me the chance to play there. If they say they're going to give me the chance, I think I'll have the chance to play there.
Cole: What team are you affiliated with in Venezuela?
Andrus: I play with the Navegantes de Magallanes.
Cole: Have the Rangers given you any idea of their plans for you next year?
Andrus: That's the reason they want me to play in the Fall League. They want to see if I'm ready to play in Double-A. I'm on a new team. They really want me to play everyday and they want to know me a little more. They always ask me if I'm ready to play in Double-A and I say ‘yeah, I'm ready to play in Double-A and finish in the big leagues'. That's my goal. Normally when I get a goal, I go get it. That's how to play and that's what I do. But yeah, it's really cool. That's the reason they want me to play in the Fall League. They want to see me so they can make a plan about me for next year.