Though he’s listed at just 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, Clayton Andrews’ talent exceeds his size.
After turning down the Dodgers as a 40th-round pick in 2017 following a standout season as a two-way player at Cabrillo College (Aptos, Calif.), Andrews headed to Long Beach State for his junior campaign and posted a 1.99 ERA in 15 starts while batting .302 across 57 games. His performance inspired the Brewers to select the left-handed pitcher/outfielder in the 17th round in 2018, and he signed for $75,000.
In the professional ranks, Andrews has done his best to assuage any concerns about his size with an impressive start to his career.
“Obviously that’s something I’ve heard my entire life playing sports,” Andrews said. “I come out with a chip on my shoulder to try to prove you don’t have to be the biggest guy to play this game.”
This past season, Andrews established himself as a legitimate bullpen prospect and also held his own from the left side of the plate as well as in center field, advancing from Class A Advanced Carolina to Double-A Biloxi in his first full season and entering the Brewers' Top 30 Prospects list.
Appearing in 39 games between the two levels, the 22-year-old lefty compiled a 3.19 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings. He also logged 11 saves in 14 chances and limited opposing hitters to a .215 clip. On the other side of the ball, Andrews slashed .333/.391/.381 across 63 at-bats and played 130 innings (16 games) in center field.
“Long Beach definitely provided a big stage and an opportunity to play with high-caliber talent,” Andrews said when asked about his transition to pro ball, “but actually, I think it was my two years at Cabrillo that prepared me for the level of competition and daily routine of pro ball.”
Andrews’ small stature on the mound creates an unusual look for opposing hitters, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he also knows how to effectively change speeds with his three-pitch mix. At the dish, he employs a contact-oriented approach from the left side of the plate, and he’s impressed club officials with his ability to chase down balls in the outfield.
Selected to play for the Glendale Desert Dogs in this year’s Arizona Fall League, Andrews views the experience as another opportunity to silence his detractors while continuing to climb towards the Major Leagues.
“Most of the time, being the smallest guy on the field is something I’m used to,” he said. “But my parents did a good job telling me that it doesn’t matter and I need to go out and show what I can do.”
Brewers hitters in the Fall League
Pablo Abreu, OF (No. 17) -- Signed for $800,000 in July 2016, Abreu reached the Rookie-level Pioneer League at age 18 last year, but spent most of ’19 batting injuries, missing time with both right and left shoulder soreness. Abreu has naturally lofty swing from the right side of the plate that the Brewers believe will translate to consistent over-the-fence pop as he matures, and the club is equally bullish on his chances of sticking in center field long term.
David Fry, INF -- The 2018 seventh-round pick from Northwestern State impressed with his bat speed and power potential in his first full season, slashing .258/.329/.444 with 17 homers and 41 doubles in 134 games at Class A Wisconsin. The 23-year-old also showed that he could play anywhere on the field, appearing in at least one game at all eight defensive positions. He spent the bulk of his time behind the plate and saw equal time at the infield corner.
Jake Gatewood, 1B -- Gatewood, 24, had season-ending surgery for a torn ACL last year and didn’t make his 2019 debut for Double-A Biloxi until May 12. The former No. 41 overall Draft pick (2014) struggled at the dish, batting .187 with 13 homers and 140 strikeouts in 94 games in his second consecutive Southern League campaign.
Brewers pitchers in the Fall League
Victor Castaneda, RHP -- The first Pitcher of the Week in 2019 AFL season, Castaneda tossed 44 innings of 4.50-ERA ball with 53 strikeouts for Wisconsin this past season. The 21-year-old right-hander posted four hitless frames with six strikeouts in his first Fall League start.
Robbie Hitt, RHP -- A 24th-round pick in 2017, Hitt compiled a 2.90 ERA over 44 appearances while advancing to Carolina in his second full season. The 6-foot-2 righty generates a ton of ground balls with a 93-95 mph two-seam fastball that he pairs with a hard slider in the upper 80s.
Quintin Torres-Costa, LHP -- The 25-year-old southpaw reached Triple-A for the first time last season, but he missed nearly all of 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He lacks overpowering stuff but has a strong track record of getting outs against hitters on the both sides of the plate. He actually fared better against righties than lefties in his last fully healthy season, limiting them to a .133/.261/.143 line over 115 plate appearances.