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2016 MLB Draft: Andrew Calica, OF, University of California-Santa Barbara

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Andrew Calica
Andrew Calica
Leah Calica

So far we've covered prospects expected to go in the first two rounds in our series of draft reports; we'll continue to plow through those guys, but I want to mix in some of the sleepers as well. We'll begin that process with outfielder Andrew Calica of the University of California-Santa Barbara.

Why Andrew Calica? Well he's an interesting prospect for one thing, but I also managed to score a telephone interview with him earlier this week.

Calica is a 6-1, 195 pound switch-hitter, born March 5th, 1994. He was drafted in 2012 but didn't sign (more on that in a moment), then missed most of his freshman year with a back injury. He was successful in 2014 (.310/.408/.352 with 10 steals in 145 at-bats), then took off in 2015 (.329/.445/.424 with 15 steals) and boosted his stock further with a good run through the Cape Cod League. This year his batting average has dropped to just .262, but his walk rate is up, his strikeout rate is down, his isolated power is higher, he's stealing more bases, and his reputation with scouts has improved despite the lower batting average. He's hit .262/.446/.387 this year with 42 walks against 19 strikeouts in 191 at-bats, with 18 steals in 22 attempts.

I spoke with Andrew by telephone Tuesday.


Sickels: You were drafted in the 17th round by the Cleveland Indians in 2012. Why did you choose to attend college instead of sign out of high school? Did you come close to signing?

Calica: "That was one of the hardest decisions I had to make in my life. I saw it as a great opportunity either way. I could play for a great pro organization that really liked me, or I could get a good education and play for an up-and-coming college baseball program with a great atmosphere and a great coaching staff. It came down to whether I felt I was ready for pro ball, or whether I wanted to get my degree. Ultimately the package from the Indians wasn’t quite what I wanted so I decided to get started on my degree."


Your freshman year was limited by a back injury but you returned very effectively as a sophomore. What kind of rehab work did you do, and did you learn anything from the experience other than that back injuries are bad?


"Yeah, I had to redshirt my freshman year because of the back problem. It was really tough mentally because I couldn’t be there for my teammates, and the rehab itself was difficult physically. It was a growing experience though, I learned how to deal with adversity and disappointment. The rehab was long but it helped me grow and mature as a person and it made me a better player, too."



Your 2014 and 2015 seasons were successful but you weren’t drafted last spring. Instead you went to the Cape Cod League and hit .425/.480/.469. Was there anything in particularly that you did differently on the Cape? How difficult is it to switch back and forth from metal to wooden bats?

"To be honest I didn’t find much difficulty changing the bats, from metal to wood. I was in a good groove that spring and I understood a lot more about myself, how to make my approach work. I was able to carry that consistency to the Cape."


Were you disappointed that you didn’t get drafted last spring?

"Yeah, I was disappointed, I wanted to go out and get my career started. But the Cape helped me and now I look at it as being one step closer. I’m almost done with my political science degree and I’m glad for that but this year I want to go out and show what I can do in pro ball. I am ready to play."


You haven’t hit up to your normal standards with batting average in 2016 at just .262 but you are stealing bases , drawing walks, and actually showing more isolated power. Any major changes from last year?

"That’s true, the results with the batting average are not where I’d like them to be. But I still think I’m developing as a hitter. I’m showing more power this year and I’m having really good at-bats. I’m making contact, drawing more walks. By getting on base as much as possible I’m helping my team, even if the batting average isn’t where I’d like it. I understand my role now and what I’m good at. With UCSB I’ve learned the mental preparation and habituation that it takes to hit leadoff."

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Calica should get drafted this year, probably in the middle rounds though as a redshirt junior he still has some leverage. Overall he projects as a fourth outfielder but one who can get on base, do some damage on the bases, and field his position.