Former Spartans end seasons in minor league
Waszak earns Danville Braves honor
Former MSU baseball player Andrew Waszak’s college success is carrying over to professional baseball.
Waszak was honored as the Danville Braves Pitcher of the Year after being picked by the Atlanta Braves in the 22nd round of the 2013 MLB First Year Player Draft in June. He was sent immediately to the team’s rookie affiliate, the Danville Braves.
In his first season of pro ball, Waszak threw 53.1 innings striking out 47 and had an ERA of just 2.03.
“It was a lot better than I expected,” Waszak said. “It’s different than college ball for sure. It kind of felt like summer baseball because we played only like 50-60 games, like a half of season, so I’m sure next year will be different, but overall, I loved it. I’m glad I got drafted, that’s for sure.”
Waszak was drafted not even a month after finishing his senior season with the Spartans, leading them to a 33-17 record. Despite a solid record, MSU was unable to make the Big Ten Tournament or the NCAA tournament.
Head coach Jake Boss Jr. coached Waszak all four years at MSU. He said his toughness and leadership was something that stood out to him.
“He came in here, he wasn’t drafted out of high school and I don’t know that he was highly recruited out of high school,” Boss said. “He was a tough kid and a leader-type of kid and he really wanted to be here. He came in right away and really, really worked harder probably than anyone else. It’s no surprise with the success he’s had just because how he conducts himself and how he works.”
Waszak was one of two players from last year’s team to be drafted, along with David Garner, who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the seventh round.
In the past three MLB drafts, nine MSU players have been drafted, six of which played in 2013.
“It’s exciting for us to watch,” Boss said. “Every guy that comes here, that we recruit here, obviously has a goal to play in the big leagues. To watch those guys to continue to get better in pro baseball and have good years, they’re chasing their dream.”
After winning MSU’s first Big Ten title in about 30 years in 2011, three players were drafted: Kurt Wunderlich (Athletics), Brandon Eckerle (Tigers) and Jeff Holm (Tigers).
This season, only Holm still remains in the minors and finished his first full season in the minors. He played 122 games for the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Detroit Tigers’ Low-A affiliate, and was named a Midwest League All-Star. He hit .270 with nine home runs and 74 RBI. He also had 15 doubles and eight triples.
In 2012, Ryan Jones (Giants), Tony Bucciferro (White Sox), Tony Wieber (Padres) and Torsten Boss (Orioles) also were drafted.
Bucciferro had possibly the best 2013 season out of his MSU draft class. He threw 90.2 innings, struck out 96 batters and walked just six. He finished the year with a 2.48 ERA for the Chicago White Sox’ rookie and Low-A affiliates.
Holm, like many others, credit MSU for as a huge reason for their success and their maturation.
“The four year bubble between high school and professional level, I learned a lot I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have picked up without (MSU),” Holm said. “Being around teammates all day, every day. I’m very fortunate to have gotten to play four years there.”