The 27-year-old infielder Andrew Smith is joining the German Baseball-Bundesliga club Heidenheim Heidekoepfe for the upcoming season. It is going to be his second stint in Europe, as he already played for the Templiers Senart in the French Elite League two years ago. The former Minor Leaguer in the Houston Astros organization was so kind to answer a few questions for Mister-Baseball.
Andrew Smith: I attended the University of San Francisco from 2003-06 and have played professionally since 2006 excluding 2008 and 2010.
MRBB: You’re coming back to Europe, playing for the Heidekoepfe in Germany. How did you get in contact with the club?
AS: My former teammate in France and former GB national team player Alex Malihoudis was able to get me in contact with the club in Heidenheim.
MRBB: How did you like playing for the Templiers Senart in the French Elite League?
AS: Senart was a great experience. There is a small but passionate group of baseball lovers in France and the league is improving with better home-grown talent. Living just outside of Paris was an amazing experience as well. Experience the French culture was a unique and eye opening experience. I made many great friends while I was there and I hope I helped them improve their game.
MRBB: You have played at college, in a Major League organization, in independent league ball and in Europe. What are the differences?
AS: Each level has its own unique features and challenges. At the Division 1 NCAA level you learn the time management skills needed to balance being a full time student and how to compete at the highest university level. Also, you get your first taste of the amount of hard work it takes to become an elite player. The affiliated minor leagues bring many new challenges. There are so many top-notch players from all over the world that are competing to make their living playing baseball and reach the major leagues. I feel that here is where you learn the mental and physical discipline needed to endure a grueling 6 months of baseball every day. In the independent minor leagues things are much less structured and players must really focus every day as there is more of a “revolving door” as far as roster spots go. You are never guaranteed the next day if you aren’t performing. As an American in Europe you looked to as a leader and are expected to perform at a very high level as most of us have much more experience than the local players. Also, another main difference is that you play a lot less games over in Europe which makes it imperative to stay focused during the week in preparation for the weekend games.
MRBB: It is going to be your second season in European Baseball. What do you like so much about the old continent?
AS: I love experiencing the history and amazing sights in every single country. I never expected to be able to see this part of the world. The fact that baseball can open these doors is amazing. Also learning the different languages, meeting people, and learning about the different cultures is incredible. Oh yeah, I LOVE to try all of the different foods as well!
MRBB: Without revealing any secrets to opposing pitchers, how would a scouting report about you look like?
AS: I consider myself a solid, all-around fundamental player. I take a lot of pride in my defensive skills and my ability to execute whatever my team needs me to do for them to win.
MRBB: What do you expect for the 2011 season?
AS: I have very high expectations for this summer. Heidenheim has been a top-notch club and I expect the same for this year. I am very excited to help get them back on top of the Bundesliga and also look forward to challenging some of the top clubs in Europe during the CEB qualifier in Amsterdam.
Mister-Baseball thanks Andrew Smith for answering our questions and wishes good luck for the upcoming season.