Dodger fans are all aware of the fall and rise of outfielder Andrew Toles. I expect many of us are waiting patiently and perhaps impatiently for the team to assign him a permanent full time role at the MLB level rather than shuttle back and forth between the parent Dodgers and OKC Dodgers.
During the 2018 First-Year Player Draft the Dodgers signed another Andrew in the 31st round of the draft out of William Jessup University in Rockin, California. Rocklin is a city in Placer County, located in the metropolitan area of Sacramento.
Andre Shaps is a 6’1”/185-pound left-handed hitting outfielder who is a native of Paradise Valley, a small town in Arizona. He attended high school at Chaparral High in neighboring Scottsdale where he posted a triple slash of .373/.451/.554 over 59 games while scoring 47 runs and driving in 40. He also posted a 2.52 ERA over 19 tripe s to the mound.
Following graduation from high school Shaps headed off to Arizona State University and had a three-year slash line of .307/.357/.455 in 365 career plate appearances. He pitched only 4.2 innings with the Sun Devils striking out 11 but walking three and allowing three runs. Everything was going well for the now 22-year-old Shaps during his junior year at ASU until he was advised he was being released and would not return to the Sun Devils for the 2018 season.
The reason for the break-up was a bit vague as one might expect. One suggestion was that it came as a result of a tweet storm with the coach’s son. More formally he was advised he was released for “failure to buy into team culture.” That came as a bit of a surprise to Shaps as he had willingly foregone the opportunity to play in the prestigious Cape Cod Summer Collegiate League in 2016 at the request of the ASU coaching staff.
Shaps did play with the Lakeshore Chinooks of the Northwoods League during the summer of 2015 and with the Victoria HarbourCats of the West Coast League in 2017. He hit well in both league’s especially in the West Coast League where he hit .441 under team head coach former major leaguer Brian McRae.
Following his dismissal from the ASU Sun Devils Shaps headed to William Jessup University. His season was cut short by injury and he made only 64 plate appearances with the Warriors. They were productive as he hit .453 with an OBP of .500. On the mound as a left-hander he did strike out 19 hitters in 14.2 innings but also allowed nine runs.
Shaps was grateful for the opportunity to play with the WJU Warriors and responded well both on and off the field.
“I can’t say enough good things about Jessup and my experience with the baseball program,” Shaps said. “They took a chance on me during a crucial time in my baseball career when they didn’t have to. The coaching staff and each player on that team welcomed me in from day one and I’m so proud to become the first player drafted out of Jessup!”
Jessup head coach, Jake McKinley, remarked on his growth at season’s end as Shaps became the first WJU player to be drafted by a MLB team.
“Although it was halted by injury, it was a real privilege to coach Andrew,” head coach wrapping up his first season at the helm, Jake McKinley said. “He was an excellent teammate and was extremely coachable. He’s come a very long way in the last few months, and this accomplishment deserves celebration.”
Shaps initially couldn’t work up the courage to turn on his television to follow the June Amateur Draft. He had been a possible Day 2 selection in 2017 before his situation deteriorated at ASU. Now he pretty much expected his name would not be called in any round. The scouts that had been in contact with him hadn’t been heard from for some time. He expected his dream of playing professional baseball had died when he was released by the Sun Devils the previous May.
His curiosity did get the best of him and he gave in checking his computer just to be absolutely sure his name hadn’t been called. It hadn’t but on Day 3 of the draft a familiar name appeared on his phone screen with a message. It was Dodger area scout Tom Kunis telling him to hang tight as the Dodgers were going to pick him.
Shaps has yet to begin his professional career, perhaps as a result of his injury during the college season with Jessup. It would not be surprising to see him begin his climb in 2018 with the Great Lakes Loons after a brief stint in rookie ball.
Photocredit: Lincoln News
Note from Mark:
I had not heard from DC for quite some time, so I e-mailed to see how he was. His response was: “I am great. Never a summer like this. Oldest son and wife were home for just over a month, daughter here for a while, younger son and wife had a baby. My wife and I were there to help out for a while. Family smothered a big part of the minor league season for us but a summer to remember. Slowing down now so baseball will get more of a look. BTW I am a Grampa again at age 77. Hope you have a great game today and tomorrow in Milwaukee. I am really concerned about Kenley.”
So, it is true that he cares more about family than the Dodgers…. and that’s a good thing!