IN THE SPOTLIGHT
A teammate did a pretty good job of pegging Andrew Bartholow the other day.
Almost got it perfect.
“Here’s a day in the life of Andrew Bartholow,” shared recent Loyola Academy graduate — and two-year starting catcher — Brian Vance. “Wakes up at 4 a.m., maybe 5 a.m. Lifts for a couple of hours and then goes to the cage and hits for a couple of hours.”
And then …
“Then, he gets in his truck and drives around for a couple of hours listening to country music — wearing a cut-off T-shirt with the window down — before going back to either hit or lift for a couple more hours.”
“Partially,” said Bartholow, “everything except for that getting up at 4 a.m. part.
“I’m a night owl; I like staying up late. I like sleeping in.”
But you get the point.
Much like his black 2014 Ford F-150 pickup truck, Bartholow is driven. This “country boy” is pretty much maniacal, when it comes to baseball. Forgive him for going a little overboard.
“Drew’s life is baseball,” said Vance. “He’s one of those guys who just wants to keep getting better.”
Bartholow, who resides in Winnetka, doesn’t get sidetracked by other things.
“He studies hard; he’s a very good student. And he plays baseball,” said LA head coach Rich Bridich, amazed by Bartholow’s focus and single-mindedness. “He’s got a great work ethic and a passion for the game.”
And, it helps to have some pretty good tools.
His 60 time is 6.48.
“He’s a quick-twitch athlete,” Bridich said. “A plus runner. He’s got big-league speed.”
His exit velocity, while hitting off a tee, has been clocked at 93 miles per hour.
“They say anything over 90 is good,” Bartholow said. “Big League power hitters are over 100 off the tee.
“Hopefully, I will get there someday.”
This past spring, Bartholow was the prototypical leadoff hitter. Fast. Smart with the strike zone. Patient.
“His swing is very smooth; he’s got an effortless stroke,” Bridich said.
“And he’s real good at being in control of his at-bats,” the coach added. “A tough out. Even when he’s down in the count, he’s not going to make a quick out. He’s going to keep battling. He’s going to find a way to get on base. And that approach is going to help him at the next level.”
After being a two-year standout for the Ramblers — batting .347 as a junior, .336 as a senior — the speedy 5-foot-10, 175-pound outfielder is all set for his next nine innings.
The baseball life and times of Andrew Bartholow will continue at Emory University in Atlanta, where he will study economics and continue to listen to a couple of his go-to’s: country musicians Jason Aldean and Eric Church.
“I wanted to go to a southern school, a warm-weather school,” said Bartholow. “[Coaches at] Emory talked to me at a showcase [Headfirst Showcase in New York]. They offered me a spot on their team, and I took it.”
Bartholow showed his unflappable side in his final high school game on May 27. In a Class 4A regional final, a 5-4 loss to host Fenwick, he led off and went 0-for-4.
A tough day at the ballpark?
Sounds like it.
But LA’s catcher framed it differently.
“He went 0-for-4, but he hit better than anyone that day,” recalled Vance. “He was hitting ropes. He was doing everything right.
“If I’m a scout at that game, I’d say, ‘I’m keeping this kid.’ ”
Bartholow’s maturity that day was unmatched. In his first at-bat, he hit a rocket the other way — only to have the Fenwick third baseman make a leaping grab and rob him of extra bases.
Then, in his next three at-bats, the left-handed hitting Bartholow ripped two line shots to center field and one to left field.
Four shots. Four outs. Undaunted.
Bartholow didn’t react. Didn’t feel sorry for himself.
And, after the game, he didn’t make excuses as he walked off the field with a sportswriter.
“You have to put it somewhere they’re not,” said Bartholow, a former defensive back who gave up football two years ago to focus solely on baseball. “Sadly, for hitters, [hard outs] happen. You get use to it. It’s part of the game. You just have to deal with it.
“I try to keep my process,” he added. “See the next pitch and hit as hard as I can.”
Bridich loves that even-keeled approach.
“He’s had enough success over the years that hard line-drive outs don’t bother him,” said the LA coach. “He understands that’s how the game treats you. He understands that he’s going to make some loud outs, so he just lets the chips fall where they may. He also knows he’ll get his share of hits on bleeders, bloopers and Texas Leaguers.
“He doesn’t define his day on how many hits he gets,” Bridich added. “That’s not how he defines success or failure. [Instead] he’s looking for quality at-bats.”
Bartholow is not a stat hound.
“I don’t pay attention to my stats,” he said. “During the season, I didn’t think too much about them. I didn’t want to think about stats and have them change my swing.”
Bartholow eventually took a peek at his 2017 numbers. In addition to hitting .336, he had a fairly robust OPS (.905) thanks to a .460 on-base percentage and a .445 slugging percentage. He scored a team-high 37 runs and drove in 19 runs. He went yard three times.
As a junior, Bartholow virtually had the same numbers. He ended up with nine doubles, 30 RBIs and 32 runs. His OPS was .855.
Baseball definitely has a hold on him.
But alas, there is much more to see — and hear — with Andrew Bartholow.
Senior year, Vance, who will play Division I baseball at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, and Bartholow took a religion class together.
And that’s when Vance saw a different side of his teammate.
“Obviously, he’s a good student. Really smart,” said Vance. “And in that religion class, he came up with some of the best and most insightful comments.
“I was impressed.”