SHREWSBURY, Mass. — Shrewsbury native John Andreoli said he took to heart General Manager Theo Epstein's speech about having a good approach at the plate before his first full season for the Daytona Cubs.
The speedy outfielder and former St. John's Pioneer was selected in the 17th round of the Major League Baseball draft out of the University of Connecticut in 2011. He led the Florida State League with 55 steals, 75 walks and was third in the league with a .402 on-base percentage.
"I'm always developing as a base runner," said Andreoli, who was a teammate of first-round picks George Springer (11, Astros) and Matt Barnes (19, Red Sox) at UConn. "Some guys are fast, but base-stealing is always about reading the pitcher. I still have a long way to go, but I've grown a lot this year."
The biggest adjustment was the number of games, Andreoli said. The Daytona Cubs have a 140-game schedule. In three years at UConn, Andreoli saw time in 158 games, including 66 in 2011 alone.
"You just have to trust what you do and what got you there," he said. "The coaches don't care how you get there, but you've just got to get on base."
The discipline extends beyond the baseball diamond. With eight credits left for his finance degree, Andreoli has returned to UConn and plans to graduate in December. John Andreoli Sr., the current St. John's football coach, said education has always been important to the family.
"I think the thing I'm most proud of is his work ethic. It's something that is unwavering," he said. "[John Jr.'s] happy to be able to get [his degree] done. That was very important to him when he made the decision to sign after his junior year."
For now, Andreoli has put baseball on the shelf, but he continues to steal up to Cressey Performance in Hudson for off-season workouts. He then spends as much time as possible at home, where he hopes to catch some St. John's football.
"I love going back to those games and seeing my dad coach is a lot of fun. I'm going to try to get back to a couple more," said Andreoli, who was in the stands for the Pioneers season-opening win against Holy Name.