Photo by Shari Sommerfield
Andy Thomas is a catcher currently playing with the Everett AquaSox, the High A team of our own Seattle Mariners. Andy was drafted out of Baylor by the Seattle Mariners in the fifth round with pick number 144 of the 2021 Major League Baseball draft. Thomas had just finished his fifth-year senior season with Baylor where he started all fifty-one games behind the plate. Andy hit a career-best .337 with a team-leading eleven home runs and 60 RBI. He was rewarded for his efforts by being named as a third team All-American and was a finalist for the Buster Posey award (as being one of the best catchers in America).
Thomas is currently hitting .252 with the AquaSox with six home runs and twenty-seven rbis and has played amazing defense behind the plate. With the seventh best OPS (on-base plus slugging) in the Northwest League, he certainly has a knack for getting on base.
Seattle Sports Union recently had the opportunity to meet up with Andy after a busy night behind the plate and what a pleasure it was to meet him (his passion and enthusiasm alone stood out the moment we met him).
SSU: Good evening. Such a pleasure to meet you. Our first question is where were you born and where did you grow up?
AT: I was born in San Diego, Ca and lived there until I was 6 years old. We then moved to Murrieta which was about 45 minutes northeast from where were lived in San Diego. Once I graduated from high school, my parents moved back to San Diego.
SSU: Why did you move in the first place if you were going to end up back in San Diego eventually?
AT: We moved because my parents wanted to build a house in a community where it was less expensive to start a family. Murrieta was the perfect place to do that, it was kind of a deserty inland town. It turned out to be a great place for our family. They had good schools, great weather where we could play baseball year-round. It was truly an awesome place to live, and we were truly blessed that we settled there.
SSU: When did you start playing baseball and why the position of catcher? I grew up playing catcher and I have great respect for those who play that position.
AT: I started playing baseball since I was very young, so probably age 3 or 4? I have always been a baseball player and from day one I wanted to play catcher. My Dad said I picked up playing that position since I was 3 or 4 years old. It is a very important position, and you are always a part of the game. Thanks for what you said about the position too. It is not an easy position to play but I love every bit of it.
SSU: Did you play any other positions growing up?
AT: Yes, I did pitch a little bit and played shortstop some, but mostly all I can remember is playing catcher.
SSU: Did you have a special moment you would like to share playing baseball growing up, perhaps in high school?
AT: Absolutely! Our team won the state championship my senior year in high school which was pretty incredible. I also played on a lot of traveling teams. We played many times at Cooperstown (the home of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame). We played games at Steamboat Springs, Colorado which was absolutely a thrill. So beautiful there.
SSU: How did you decide on Baylor University to go play your college baseball and get your college education?
AT: I committed to go play at Pepperdine University my Junior year in high school but after my Junior year, the Coach at Pepperdine went to work at Baylor University in Waco, Texas so I decided to follow him there for the last 5 years. I really like what he had to bring to the table. I obviously made the right decision to attend Baylor. I loved every second of it, being right in the middle of Texas. Dallas was just only about an hour and a half north of Waco and Austin was only an hour and a half south. At first, it was it seemed different moving to the middle of Texas from California, but college life kicked in pretty quickly for me and it soon felt like home away from home.
SSU: Do you have a favorite Baylor moment you would like to share?
AT: I met my future wife at Baylor, so that was the best thing that happened to me in college. We are getting married in January of 2023 in Dallas and planning to have a little honeymoon after that.
Another great memory was the bond my team and I had my entire career there. That was pretty cool, something that I will not forget. We won the 2018 Big 12 Championship which was phenomenal, we all rushed the field and did the dog pile lol. We made it to regional after that but what fun times we had.
SSU: I got to ask. What was it like playing against the University of Texas? The history of that program and I am sure the fans were nuts!
AT: Yeah, it was a lot of fun playing against them, lots of fans in their stadiums. It was great competition but so is the entire Big 12. There were lots of really good teams. You had Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, T.C.U., lots of colleges with huge pedigrees of not just being a football school but also baseball schools. Week to week I had to really lock into focus and be locked in ready to play.
SSU: What was your major in College?
AT: I majored in business, specifically in marketing. I graduated with an undergraduate degree in marketing. I then used my fifth year (since Covid allowed it for everyone to go back for that extra year) to get one year of my MBA done. I was going to go to law school there at Baylor for my fifth year, but I changed my mind. They do have a great law school there though. It was an awesome 5 years at Baylor for sure.
SSU: Where were you on MLB draft day and did you know that the Seattle Mariners were interested in you?
AT: I was actually working at a kids camp in Waco that day. I did not know if I would get drafted or not. There were rumblings but nothing definitive that many teams were interested in drafting me. On draft day I was really nervous working at camp that day, waiting for that “phone call” but I never got it. Camp ended that day and later that day I got the “call”! I freaked out, was so excited. Then my cell phone started to blow up. It was so awesome to be picked in the fifth round by the Seattle Mariners.
I really did not know the Mariners were interested in me, but I am truly glad they chose me. I stayed connected with many after the season to make sure my name was out there, and they knew that I was interested. Draft day 2021 is a moment I will never forget.
SSU: Where do you see yourself 20-25 years from now when you retire from the greatest sport in the world?
AT: I really do not know, and I wish I had a better answer that that. I got a lot of passions and I feel like I am a pretty smart dude where I could do a lot of different things. It is nice to have lots of options, so probably something in the business world or get into coaching. I would love to get into coaching whether it is at the college or professional level. I want to be somewhere I can still be competitive in some capacity. I always will see myself as one who loves to get their juices flowing when a big event is happening or there is a big game. I love being competitive and winning. So, we shall see where I am when that time comes.
SSU: Who was your inspiration growing up and getting you to where you are today? Who was your favorite baseball players?
AT: My Dad was my inspiration. He played first base growing up and his two boys (my brother and I) both grew up learning and loving the position of catcher. He was always the best coach to the both of us. He was hard on us but never mean. My Dad was just a good hard coach and taught us how to play the game of baseball the right way. He expected a lot from us, but we also expected a lot from ourselves.
My favorite players were Buster Posey and Yadier Molina. They are two of the greatest and best catchers of their generation for a reason. I would like to say I model my game after the two of them.
SSU: How would you rate Andy Thomas as a baseball player currently?
AT: That is a loaded question and asking a lot. (laughs) I would say I am a good player and am trying to improve every day. Everyone has room for improvement in every single facet of their being. The minute I start thinking that I am ok I start going downhill. So, every day when it is an early work game, I am just trying to get better at every moment. So, seeing the baseball, hitting the baseball, and hitting the baseball with power are areas I work on. My arm will always get better, and I will always work on getting better on defense and calling a great game behind the plate. I am perfectly happy where I am at currently this season but also know that I got lots to work on. Cannot take it for granted in life, one must work for it and that is who Andy Thomas is.
SSU: Great answer Andy on the last question. Who is your favorite AquaSox pitcher that you have caught this season?
AT: I love them all equally you know! I have been truly blessed to have caught all of them but ok you are looking for names and I will give you a few. Bryce Miller has been a blast to catch and has been lights out all season. He has electric stuff, and he pounds the strike zone. He knows how to pitch and hits his spots. That is one thing that will make a pitcher great, and he has that quality. All these guys here though have that potential. Kyle Hill, I love to catch. We went to Baylor together and catching a guy that I am familiar with makes my job easier, but all these guys I am getting to know better. I enjoy catching on this team. We got a really good staff. Everyone has their little quirks about them. Jimmy Joyce loves to pitch quickly between pitches when he is on the mound. Fred Villarreal has a slower tempo, but he also has electric stuff. We have a huge range of weapons here at our disposal.
SSU: What good things would your coaches and teammates say about you?
AT: I would think that they would say I was a good teammate. I bring a lot of energy and joy to the field and have their best interest in heart at all times.
SSU: What was your first impression of Everett when you arrived here last summer? What about the Everett Fans?
AT: I loved it; I was getting moved up from Modesto from low A to high A. This place was in the middle of nowhere. We were staying downtown with many good restaurants around the city. The weather was nice you know, and it was not like weather we had here just a couple of months ago lol. Love the background view from the ballpark on clear days and being able to hit a ball to the streets is pretty cool.
The fans are great. That was one of the first things I was told when I got promoted last year. Wish we could pack the park every game, but it is what it is. As long as you play the game the right way and are a good person, they are going to like you. When the weather starts to warm up, we expect to see the bigger crowds show up and cheer us on. We will start up another winning streak here tomorrow night and will go on the road for the next two weeks and come back and play in front of Frog Nation on the 4th of July. We cannot wait. No more cold weather lol. We want to bring a championship back to Everett (it has been 12 years).
SSU: What is your favorite sports movie of all time?
AT: The Sandlot is a good one and Bull Durham is an instant classic. I also love the movie Talladega Nights.
SSU: Have you ever had a mound conversation like they did in Bull Durham?
AT: Probably not that good as the movie but we have had some pretty funny stuff. People would be surprised about how many mound conversations we have had about complete non-baseball stuff. (Laughs) For example we will just go out there and talk about “can you believe what my Mom called me and told today?” “Can you believe that?” It is a good way to relax and ease the tension of whatever might be going on and then we get locked back into what is going on.
SSU: Who plays Andy Thomas in your Hollywood movie?
AT: I am secretly the biggest Leonardo De Caprio fan of all time so I choose him, but he will need to bulk up.
SSU: We want to ask you one more question. How long have you known sign language? We saw you doing sign language with a fan during the game tonight, so awesome.
AT: I learned sign language when I was in high school from 2013 to 2017. I took ASL for 4 years and loved every second of it. My teacher was a great mentor to me during that time. Whenever possible and you get to speak another language that you have not used in a while it is great. I kept messing up and he was laughing at me, but we were both having a good time. We talked for a long time tonight. It was just normal conversation between the two of us. It was fun. I know people that are deaf really appreciate people that go out of their way to speak to them, to make eye contact with them.
SSU: Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us, what a pleasure it was. Looking forward to watching you climb the ladder in the Mariner’s organization. Have a great night.
AT: Thanks guys, it was my pleasure, great talking to the both of you.
Andy Thomas you are quite infectious and truly inspirational. We can see why you chose the position of catcher when you were little. It certainly has paid off for you on and off the family. Best of luck to you in the future, though we think you will not need it.