Fresno State baseball alumnus begins pro career with Fresno Grizzlies

EJ Andrews Jr. spent three years at Fresno State and will start his professional career wit the Fresno Grizzlies (Photo courtesy of Aaron Pro Photography).

EJ Andrews, Jr. loves Fresno.

But growing up in Long Beach, he really didn’t know much about the city, or the Central Valley, for that matter. 

That all changed after Andrews made his first visit to Fresno State. As he entered the city limits, he enjoyed the Fresno vibes. Andrews knew it was the place for him. Everything solidified when Fresno State baseball head coach Mike Batesole offered him a spot on the team during his visit.

It was an easy decision for Andrews to make. Within a couple of hours, he called Batesole to let him know he was all in.

“Fresno really buys into their sports teams,” Andrews said about the Red Wave. “I really wanted to be part of that, and it was truly a blessing.”

Andrews had a successful career at Long Beach Poly. He helped the Jackrabbits win their first playoff game in 10 years, was named a Perfect Game top 500 player and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 38th round of the 2018 MLB Draft. Ultimately, he decided it was still  best for him to attend Fresno State. 

Andrews was nervous about moving to Fresno, but it quickly became a second home for him and he started to engage in what the city and its surroundings had to offer.

Whenever he felt like eating out, Dog House Grill was his go-to restaurant. He was thankful he got to go to Yosemite with his friends and take in the sights of El Capitan and Half Dome. During his free time, he made sure to attend Fresno State’s other sporting events and cheer on his peers as part of the Red Wave. 

“I had a really good group of teammates and friends out here that really made it feel like home,” Andrews said. “It didn’t take long to get used to it.”

Fresno State outfielder EJ Andrews, Jr. runs the bases in the sixth inning after Ryan Higgins hit a home run in their game against Air Force on April 10, 2021, at Bob Bennett Stadium. (Kameron Thorn/The Collegian)

On the diamond, Andrews made a name for himself at Fresno State. The outfielder played 96 games over his career – which included the shortened 2020 season due to COVID-19 – and finished his senior season with a .325 batting average, nine home runs and was named second team All-Mountain West.

Toward the middle of his senior season, Batesole pulled Andrews aside and let him know that MLB scouts were coming to Fresno State games to watch him play.

“That’s when it hit me that the possibility of becoming a professional baseball player was possible,” Andrews said.

On July 13, 2021, that dream became reality.

On his way home from working out at the gym, Andrews got the phone call that changed his life.

Fittingly, it was Jermaine Clark, a former baseball coach at Fresno State and scout for the Colorado Rockies, on the other end of the call. Clark informed Andrews that the Rockies drafted him in the 12th round of the 2021 MLB draft.

“It was a surreal moment,” Andrews said.

As he celebrated accomplishing his dream of becoming a professional baseball player, Andrews quickly realized that this meant he was going to start his career in the city he loves: Fresno.

After a solid showing in the Colorado Rockies Arizona Complex League team, Andrews made the jump to the next level.

Now, the same fans who saw him play as a Bulldog can watch the start of his professional journey for the Fresno Grizzlies, the Rockies’ Single-A affiliate. When Andrews’ name is announced Friday on Opening Night at Chukchansi Park in Downtown Fresno, it’ll be the beginning of the dream he had been working hard for so long.

Andrews said he couldn’t be happier that it will start in the city he considers his second home.

“I can’t say thank you enough to the Red Wave. I was a 17-year-old coming out here. The Valley really took me in, and I’m really grateful for it,” Andrews said. “Having them watch my college career start [to] finish, and now having them watch the start of my professional career, really means a lot to me.”

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