For fans of the Philadelphia Phillies, the 2021 MLB Draft is remembered as the draft the Phils selected top prospect Andrew Painter in the first round. However, there’s another arm from that summer’s crop of talent, that’s on his way to the bigs. His name is Andrew Baker.
Selected in the eleventh round by way of Chipola Junior College, Baker possessed the prospects that teams love to see in young pitchers.
During a brief stint in the Cape Cod Baseball League, the right-hander sat in the upper 90s with his fastball, catching the eye of dozens of scouts in attendance. The Phillies were one of those teams and had seen enough to want him in their organization.
Baker arrived in Clearwater just in time to find his footing in the minors before the 2021 season concluded. “The first couple of months was really just learning. Pro ball is a lot different from college. I really was just trying to learn and get adjusted to everything” said Baker.
It was a brief stint in 2021 at A ball, but a strong spring placed Baker with High A Jersey Shore to begin the 2022 season. He continued to work on refining his mechanics throughout the early part of the season with the Blue Claws.
As everything came into place, Baker’s statistics started to reflect the work he and the coaching staff had put in. It was the middle of the summer in 2022, when Baker finally started to draw attention.
Drew Baker is a name Phillies fans aren’t talking about enough. He’s not just the guy who throws 100 mph. With his scoreless outing last night, he’s now posted a 2.28 ERA out of Jersey Shore’s bullpen in his last 20 games with 38 Ks and 9 BB in 23.2 IP pic.twitter.com/cgzmnro9sd— Mitch Rupert (@Mitch_Rupert) August 27, 2022
The day after the tweet above, Baker tossed another perfect inning, striking out two batters in the process. With that, Baker was up to 40 punch-outs in his last 24 2⁄3 innings at High A.
So what changed for the 22-year-old that led to this stretch of dazzling dominance?
“We simplified everything. We knew that we had to take the “overthinking” part out of it. It was realizing that I didn’t need to try to make my stuff good, it was trusting it and letting it work” Baker states.
That simplification of the process and the trust in his own stuff, propelled Baker to Double A Reading on August 29th.
Drew was ecstatic to earn the promotion, but was ready to keep working; “It was a surreal feeling. It really meant a lot to me and made me feel like my hard work paid off. It made me want to work even harder to be able to keep progressing through the system”.
The former Auburn Tiger took over at AA, without any hiccups as he completed his first full season of pro ball.
2022 at AA Reading: 10 2⁄3 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0.84 ERA, 5 BB, 11 K
That will certainly play.
For Baker, it was continuing to build off of what he and the coaching staff at Jersey Shore established, simplicity.
The continuation of “letting the stuff play and not trying to make it do what it’s supposed to do”, is what Drew credits to the continued success at Reading.
As the winter months approach, Baker vows to continue working hard to improve his performance on the field. He’s someone dedicated to becoming great, with extra work being put in year round.
When asked what his goals for the off-season were, Baker said “ Come back stronger and put on more weight to be able to maintain velocity and stamina throughout the entire season.”
In a game in which bullpen arms who sit in the upper 90s are coveted, the Phillies are growing one of their own weapons.
With a 100 mph heater loaded up in his electric arm, Andrew Baker is primed to make an impact at the MLB level, in the not so distant future.