Name: Erold Andrus
DOB: July 16, 1984
Height: 6' 2"
A product of the Yankees' Venezuelan Summer League (VSL) team, Andrus repeated Battle Creek again in 2004 after amassing just 140 at-bats in the Midwest League in 2003. At 6' 2" and 170 lbs when he was signed as a free agent, Andrus can fill out nicely the next couple of seasons. His power numbers reflect his increased strength, clubbing 12 home runs for Battle Creek in '04...which more than tripled his career total. Erold Andrus was all but ready to burst onto the scene in 2003 but the sample size just did not quite work out for him to get noticed. An injury slowed him in his small time in Battle Creek and before that, he hit quite well in the Gulf Coast League. However, he got his shot in 2004, especially after he was able to emerge from Melky Cabrera's shadow when Melky got promoted to Tampa.
Andrus was able to compile some excellent statistics in 2004 with the Battle Creek Yankees after getting off to a horrid start to his season. He ended up batting .291 for the season but the Yankees feel he has some big power potential in his future. Here is what his manager in 2004, Bill Mosiello had to say on this issue. "Erold looks like a big power hitting prospect. He hit 12 home runs for us this year but he showed in stretches that the potential is there for some big power production in the future. He is not the five tool player some thought he might turn out to be. You figure that he is filling out already and getting bigger and stronger. Right now, his speed and arm are his worst tools. He used to be faster but as he is adding some pounds, he is getting stronger but sacrificing some speed." So how do the Yankees plan to exploit Andrus' lost tools along with his growing power potential? "The big news on him right now is that we are slowly making him into a first baseman," Mosiello told PinstripesPlus.com. "We worked with him in the instructional league on playing first base and he is looking pretty good. Don't expect him to start as a full time as a first baseman next year for the Tampa Yankees but he will be playing there a lot in the near future. We don't have a lot of depth at the position and this move will help him in the future."
We also got a chance to catch up with defensive coordinator, Andy Stankiewicz to talk about the move to 1b. "Well, the thing about Erold is that he is confident in everything he does," Stankiewicz told PinstripesPlus.com. "I think that will help him a lot in this move. He seems confident playing the position and he is eager to get better and better at it. That is key in a move like this. I think he can still play right field but first base seems like the better fit right now. Playing another position will help his value in the long run but he should make a good first baseman. He is getting stronger and bigger, he could be a big power threat pretty soon."
Will his move to 1B from the outfield hurt his status? It remains to be seen but the organization seems to be very high on Andrus' power and run producing potential. But, also, it appears that as he has gotten stronger and more mature, the 20 year old Andrus has lost some speed in the outfield. He had a good offensive season in Battle Creek in 2004 and showed the potential to be a very good offensive player. The Yankees will slowly easy Andrus into his new first base position in 2005. It could be a big coming out party for Andrus so he is one to watch very closely.
Batting and Power. Even though what he has already done is quite impressive, it is what may lie ahead that intrigues the Yankees about Erold Andrus. But, for now, let's see what this 20 year old is already capable of. For one thing, he can really put the bat on the ball. In over 550 at bats, he only struck out 86 times. However, he does like to hack, like most young hitters do. Also, the Yankees are trying to teach him to produce a more consistent stroke because at this point, he is an extremely streaky hitter. But, what the Yankees can see is a possibly potent swing from both sides of the plate, especially from the left hand side. He has a natural lefty stroke with a slight uppercut in his swing that, with time, could produce big time power results. Most of that will hinge on him continuing to get bigger and stronger over the next year or so. He'll just need to become a bit more selective at the plate as a power hitter. His development of power will make or break him as a prospect.
Base running and Speed. Right now, speed is far from a liability for Erold Andrus. However, the Yankees feel that as he continues to fill out his wiry frame, a lot of the speed is going to evaporate. But, it doesn't appear that he will ever be considered a slow runner. In fact, with a move to first base, he'll likely be one of the quicker and more agile first baseman around. He stole 14 bases in 2004 so don't expect that number to plummet in 2005. He is still a fairly smart base runner.
Defense. Erold Andrus was always a very solid outfielder so the move to first base was not because he was doing a sub par job out there. But, the Yankees were able to look a little bit further into the future and see that his arm was always just OK and his speed was probably going to decrease as his body mass increased. So, they took the step by moving him to first base. He projects to be a good first baseman but he just will continue to learn the everyday plays and processes of the position. He certainly has the tools for it though. Experience will be the most important factor.
Projection. Since the Yankees signed Erold Andrus they have seen power potential in his bat. In 2004, he began to show signs that his power was starting to come around. Already, he has proved he can hit for a solid batting average and that he'll likely become an at least solid fielder. If he projects the way the Yankees expect, Erold could quickly become a top 10 prospect in the organization. The organization sees him as a 25 HR power type of guy that could possibly hit around .290. Of course, for such a young switch hitter, that is the best case scenario. 2005 will be the key to his future.
ETA. Late 2007. With the move to first base, Erold Andrus may actually speed up his run to the Major Leagues. For the 2005 season, Andrus will ease himself into becoming the full time first baseman in Tampa. He should likely remain their for the full season and make the jump to AA Trenton in 2006. Then, he should be well prepared for AAA in 2007. If he performs well there, he could have a shot at a September callup to the big club.