— Jonathan Hodgson
As 2015 has faded into 2016, baseball shortstop Griffin Andreychuk has lofty goals after a breakout 2015 that saw him turn heads during the collegiate season, and with the Victoria HarbourCats of the West Coast League (WCL) during the summer.
Andreychuk became an everyday player at Seattle University (NCAA Div. 1; WAC) as a sophomore in 2015, starting 57 games, after playing 40 as a freshman.
He has always swung the bat well, hitting .297 in his freshman season, before asserting himself as an impact offensive threat for head coach Donny Harrel and the Redhawks this past season, when he posted a .306 average with four home runs and 42 RBIs while starting at shortstop.
Those offensive exploits earned Andreychuk second team shortstop honours on the annual CBN All-Canadian Team.
It’s been a similar story in the summer for the former member of the BCPBL’s Langley Blaze and Nanaimo Pirates. Andreychuk has returned to Vancouver Island after each of his first two collegiate seasons, to suit up for the WCL’s Victoria HarbourCats at Royal Athletic Park (RAP), less than two hours south of his home in Nanaimo.
Andreychuk relishes the opportunity to play in Victoria, and enjoys helping put a spotlight on the baseball talent that Vancouver Island is producing. In the summer of 2014 for the HarbourCats, Andreychuk hit a solid .271 with a home run and 14 RBI’s while playing in 41 games. The team finished 25-29, good for second in the WCL West division and a three game improvement from their inaugural campaign in 2013.
The following summer, Griffin was fresh off of his breakout sophomore season at Seattle U, and assumed a leadership role in Victoria as one of the more potent offensive threats in the league.
Although limited to 30 games due to final exams at Seattle U, Griffin was second on head coach Graig Merritt’s squad with five home runs, and third with 25 RBIs. Equally impressive was Andreychuk’s .385 average, which led the HarbourCats, and with another 40 at-bats would have earned him the WCL batting title.
Defensively, Andreychuk was rock solid, committing just two errors in 30 games at second base.
After graduating high school from Dover Bay Secondary in Nanaimo, Griffin joined his brother, suiting up in a pair of games for the Falcons near the end of the season.
Andreychuk says that experience gave him a preview of what to expect in the WCL,
“WCL competition is tough,” says Andreychuk. “Most players come from good programs and can all show why they are in WCL. The league is littered with NCAA Division 1 guys and the pitching is very similar to what you would get at college. Getting the extra at-bats and reps on the field is great for development.”
Andreychuk’s increased offensive output correlated with another improved HarbourCats squad, which finished with a franchise-best 29 wins and missed the playoffs by just two games.
“RAP is the best place to play in the WCL by far,” Andreychuk says of HarbourCats fans. “The biggest reason is because of the atmosphere the fans create. They make playing home games something special.”