Knowing when to work and when to have fun seems to be a critical determiner of success for anyone aspiring to achieve at a high level. But still, someone with a sense of humor isn’t disqualified from being able to operate with elite precision. Exhibit A, for this analysis, is Andrew Walton, an uncommitted 2022 infielder and catcher out of Lanier High School in Buford, Georgia.
While Walton admittedly likes to clown around with his teammates and try to get a laugh at opportune times, he is definitely aware of how to get down to business on the diamond. The way he plays speaks volumes to how serious he takes his performance. A self-prescribed “dirt-ball” who will dive and play his hardest each pitch, it seems undeniable Andrew would find his way to join an organization, in Dirtbags Baseball, that epitomizes earning success with gritty, no-nonsense efforts from its players.
Not only does the sophomore match how he describes a true Dirtbag, who doesn’t mind putting their body on the line, in how he plays on the field, but he takes the same approach in how he prepares his physical, athletic 6’ and 205 pound frame. Jokes may have their place among friends and teammates, but when it really matters, Walton has one objective – crushing his opponent.
Trey Daly, the general manager for the Dirtbags, has been coaching Walton on the 2022 Tap Out team and has witnessed this competitive drive first hand. He was quickly able to recognize Andrew’s ability to flip the switch and be all business on the field and in the work to grow his skills.
Daly says, “He’s gotten very serious in the weight room which has led him to become a very intriguing player that can play corner infield, as well as catch. He handles all pitchers very well behind the dish, which is an additional asset to his game.”
Strength plus baseball skills, times versatility produces a player who can project very high in considering prospect criteria. In Walton’s case, the journey has been one of development and meeting the opportunities with the right attitude and work ethic.
The work has shown its impact, as Walton’s production at the plate has also been notable.
“Andrew has just flat out hit for us the past two seasons. He’s a guy that shows gap to gap power and shows strength in his swing,” according to Daly.
All of this development comes after a time when Andrew considered stepping away from baseball altogether. Saying he was no longer having fun playing the game, he admits to initially joining the Bags in 2018 with a “let’s see how this goes” attitude.
Needless to say it’s gone pretty well, as the right-handed hitting Walton has shown great ability at a number of positions. Having done a good bit of catching in 2019 for the Dirtbags, he has extended his focus to corner infield skills lately, as he feels that may be his best college position. And though it may be that Andrew finds himself at the next level as a first or third baseman, his catching skills definitely provide him some versatility that becomes attractive to plenty of programs.
And if anyone thinks those three positions are the limit to his skill sets and baseball IQ, understand he was manning SS for his Lanier Longhorns squad this spring in Georgia before the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown. Walton says that playing baseball on the talent-rich prep diamonds of Georgia, elevates his game due to the high level of prospects on everyone’s roster.
For Andrew, it makes playing with the Dirtbags to be a similar experience. He says the amount of talent on his team and in his opponents have all been essential in driving him towards his highest development; a mark he continues to strive for with two more years of play in front of him.
Most notable to be considered by Walton in terms of development since being a Dirtbag has been the baseball IQ piece. Quick to mention the coaching he receives as a force behind his growth, he also notes his teammates have pushed him to a point he feels he is “learning everytime on the field.”
The hopes for a successful 2020 campaign, Walton’s third as a Dirtbag, center on keeping those strong connections with coaches and teammates to make a strong impression on college coaches and scouts. With big time events on the schedule, he has been preparing to impress both.
And that should come as no surprise because Andrew’s past experiences as a Dirtbag have been spectacular. Perhaps tops on that list was in the summer of 2019, when Tap Out won three straight on the first day of bracket play in the WWBA at Lake Point, en route to a 3rd place finish in the championship. Walton again, brought back how important his team’s chemistry was in making such a run.
Daly again recognizes the growth beyond the physical attributes which makes Walton a kind of player programs will want to have. The GM said, “Andrew has continued to improve every single year and that’s what it takes. He’s the type of kid that if you tell him to do something he’s going to do it and not find an excuse; which is music to a coach’s ear.”
Those programs that will get after recruiting Walton will find a confident young man who will appreciate more about the school than just baseball. He mentioned some schools specifically he’s visited for camps or events and the campus culture and surrounding community seemed just as important as the athletic opportunities.
Summing up the conversation, Trey Daly pointedly quipped, “Kids that work as hard as Andrew and have the will to listen and adapt to what people around them are telling them is an ingredient for success. We are very excited to have Andrew on board and can’t wait to help him find a home at the next level.”
And that is no joke. And neither is Andrew Walton. .