2022 Vancouver Canadians catcher/first baseman Andrés Sosa takes us behind the plate in the latest edition of C’s Chat.
It was just over a year ago that Sosa joined the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent signing from the Tri-City Valley Cats of the independent Frontier League. The Hermosillo, Mexico-born backstop got the Blue Jays attention by putting up a batting line of .387/.406/.710 with four doubles, two home runs and eight runs batted in over 10 games with the Valley Cats.
After signing with the Blue Jays on August 16, 2021, Sosa made his professional debut two days later in the Florida Complex League and got his first professional hit in his second game against the FCL Phillies August 19. After a nine-game introduction at the FCL in which he batted .333 in nine at-bats, Sosa was promoted to Dunedin and saw action in five games to close out the year.
The journey to professional baseball began to take shape for Sosa at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio where he lettered in all four years. He was a First Team Underclass All-American in 2015 as a junior and an Honorable Mention All-American by Perfect Game in 2016 as a senior. Perfect Game rated Sosa as the third best shortstop in Texas and No. 21 in the nation.
“Andres P. Sosa is a 2016 SS/RHP with a 6-0 185 lb. frame from San Antonio, TX who attends Reagan HS. Strong athletic build, fairly mature physically. Right handed hitter, big hand load with good rhythm, looks to keep hands tight and short to the ball, explodes his hands at contact, has very good bat speed and looks to pull and drive the ball, has power and can get the ball in the air, ball jumps hard when squared, solid overall approach that will play quickly at the next level. 7.41 runner, easy and athletic actions defensively, stays balanced well, arm strength has improved, long and loose arm action, third base tools defensively down the road but is comfortable in the middle infield at present. Good student, verbal commitment to Texas.”
BaseballFactory.com saw potential for Sosa to be a two-way player back in 2015 during the Under Armour All-America Pre-Season Tournament.
“Sosa showed at SS and on the mound for the first time with a promising future on the diamond, possibly as a two-way guy. In the MIF, he moves well laterally, displaying range and shows soft / sure hands. Feet / hands work well through the fielding actions, displaying smooth / fluid actions. Athletic abilities are shown off in his feeds / turn of the double play and has big play potential in the MIF. At the plate, he shows an athletic setup. Hands are quick, generating plus bat speed through a level swing path. He shows a feel for the barrel and makes consistent contact as he works to keep hands inside the ball to utilize all fields. On the mound, arm strength is outstanding as indicated by his top velocity of 86 mph. Fastball showed a range of 84-86 mph with arm side run. Breaking ball is dirty displaying 11/5 shape with late / sharp break. Control is outstanding as he pounds the zone with a lot of strikes.”
Sosa went to the University of Texas for his freshman season in 2017 where he was teammates with Detroit Tigers infielder Kody Clemens and 2017 C’s first baseman Kacy Clemens. After playing just 11 games with the Longhorns, Sosa opted to take the junior college route by joining San Jacinto in 2018 where 2019 C’s pitcher Mike Pascoe and 2019 and 2021 hurler Luis Quiñones also played. With the Gators, Sosa posted a .333 on-base percentage in 49 games while hitting four home runs and driving in 14. He also stole five bases in six attempts. After the juco season, Sosa played for the Cowlitz Black Bears of the West Coast League and got on base at a .351 clip with 14 doubles, four homers and 26 RBI.
In 2019, Sosa returned to Division I baseball with Dallas Baptist University, the same institution attended by 2016 C’s infielder Nash Knight. Sosa slashed .262/.365/.468 with the Patriots and belted eight home runs, 34 runs batted in and seven stolen bases to help them win the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title. Sosa was named to the Lubbock Regional and MVC All-Tournament teams. In the summer, Sosa did another tour of duty with Cowlitz and batted .311 with a .426 OBP and a .464 SLG while racking up eight doubles, five homers and 22 RBI.
The 2020 season saw Sosa play in just five games with Dallas Baptist due to injury where he hit .286 with one home run and five RBI. He returned to DBU for 2021 and put up an OBP of .427 with a slugging percentage of .467. The Patriots won the MVC Tournament title and the Fort Worth regional to reach to the NCAA Super Regional for the first time since 2011.
In 2022, Sosa is making strides in his first full season as a professional. He collected his first home run against Eugene at Nat Bailey Stadium April 24. The 24 year-old finished a triple shy of the cycle in Spokane July 23 and homered again at the Nat August 16 in a charged atmosphere against the Hillsboro Hops in which a near bench-clearing brawl took place. Sosa also helped the C’s pick up a road win in Everett August 18 with his legs as he walked, stole second and third and scored the winning run in the ninth as part of a 2-for-3 day with two walks. The heroics continued August 23 against Hillsboro when he threw out two runners trying to steal and had a three-hit night, including a two-run home run to help the C’s get a come from behind win over the Hops the Nat.
Heading into the final week of August, Sosa has batted .400 in 12 games and has inflated his OBP to .399 on the season. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound backstop is also tied for second in hit by pitches with 15, trailing Northwest League leader and teammate Leo Jiménez who has 17.
C’s Plus Baseball had a chat with Sosa during the team’s homestand against Everett in July. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
C’s Plus Baseball – Talk about how you wound up with the Blue Jays?
Andrés Sosa – First off, thanks for having me. I signed as a free agent last August out of independent ball. I signed out of the Frontier League with the Tri-City Valley Cats where I spent about three weeks with them once I concluded my career at Dallas Baptist. I went down to rookie ball down in Dunedin. And later that year I got promoted to Low-A and then this year out of spring training, I got promoted up here to High-A Vancouver.
CPB – Who was the one who made contact with you?
AS – He was an area scout out of Dallas (Max Semler). Charlie Wilson, our director (of minor league operations), he’s the one that eventually called me. So yeah, I didn’t really have anybody that like was the set guy but it was one of those things where the Blue Jays called and they asked me if I wanted to sign as a free agent. And that was really a no-brainer for me since I went undrafted. I wanted a place to play and I got that opportunity here.
CPB – You began your college career with Texas where 2017 Vancouver Canadian Kacy Clemens was on the roster. What was the beginning of your college days like?
AS – Kacy Clemens was actually the senior captain that year so he was my senior captain my freshman year and I got to interact with him a lot. One of the best teammates I’ve had, he was a great guy on and off the field. Great family, obviously great baseball family, but really awesome. Just a group of guys that really love to play the game. The Clemens family is awesome. I actually got to play with Kody, (current Detroit Tiger Kody Clemens) his younger brother throughout high school. So that was one of those connections where once I got into Texas, they really helped me out. And even now after I left Texas, they’re still good friends and I’m sure that if I ever need anything, they would help me out.
CPB – You spent some time at San Jacinto College, which is a very good JuCo college. What was your experience like there?
AS – It was awesome. Once I went to San Jac, it was one of those things where every single guy there kind of had a similar background where the first school that they went to wasn’t necessarily a great fit for them. So they had to go somewhere else to play. And San Jac was one of those programs where they took in every D-1 (Division 1) bounce back that needed a place to go back to play. The team was full of just really, really good players that wanted to work hard. And eventually that year, every single player on our team got to Division 1. And then the other guys went to NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) . We ended up finishing that year third in the JuCo World Series so it was a great year. It was a great time where I got to learn a lot and also play the game so it was really fun.
CPB – Dallas Baptist, you spent three years there. What would you say was your best memory there?
AS – There are a couple. In 2020, right before the season, we had an exhibition series in Cuba where we went to Cuba for about a week and we played three exhibition games against three professional teams down there. And not only did I get to play baseball in Cuba but I got to serve in the community. So as one of my favorite memories, that was definitely the Cuba trip. And then my last season there, my fifth year, we won the Fort Worth Regional. And that was really big because we got to advance to the Super Regional. Winning that regional and then going up to the Super Regionals was one of my best memories too.
CPB – When you look back at your time, how did you develop as a player at Dallas Baptist?
AS – I think our motto at DBU instilled in me since the first day I got there is ‘1% better every day.’ So just that mindset of coming to the ballpark and getting better every single day definitely helped me develop as a baseball player but also off the field as a man and really just being able to catch. I got to learn how to catch while I was at Dallas Baptist. Coach Heefner (Danny Heefner) did a great job with me where he really taught me the basics but then he taught me how to really think the game between the game where it’s in between pitches, reading a batter, calling the baseball game and just controlling the running game so I got really good at that while just learning the game there. And then DBU is known as powerhouse hitting school so I got to develop hitting wise a lot there.
CPB – When did you start being a catcher?
AS – Originally I was a shortstop all my life. Shortstop, second base, third base but once I got to Texas, my coaches asked me if I’ve ever wanted to catch. And honestly, I didn’t like it. I said, ‘No,, I don’t think that’s the position for me.’ But, you know, the game really knows a way to like really humble you and be able to show you like, ‘No, really, that is what was best for me.’ So even though I didn’t see it at the beginning, once I got to Dallas Baptist, it was towards my senior year where I first started to really play the position in a real game. So I’ve been catching since my senior year of college and got to really play a lot last year as a catcher. But yeah, this year has been one of full time catcher, part-time first base.
CPB – What is your favorite part about catching? What is it that you’ve grown to like about the position?
AS – Everything. I think when you watch me catch, you really try to see me control the game. It’s one of those things for me, it’s like I take pride in my defense and I take pride in being able to call a shutout, you know, for the other team to not even touch first base. I take pride in that and I like to study the hitters. I like to study the other team. So even before I’m out, I kind of want to know what my game plan is. So if there’s anything that I’ve love about that is my preparation for catching.
CPB – Talk about what it’s like to prepare for a game when you know, you’re goning to be behind the plate. What’s the routine like?
AS – I like to keep my energy because I’m a high energy player when I play. So I try to mostly just get my body loose, go through a series of mobility work where I’m fully ready to go with my body and then really just go over the game plan with the pitcher. That’s a big one. And then just really do everything that I need to do to get the pitcher ready. I have some individual catching work that I do with my catching coach here with Brent (C’s manager Brent Lavallee) but nothing really crazy, man. I just really prepare on the days that I’m not playing. So the days that I do play, I can go through my routine and just get after it.
CPB – As far as your drills go, what are they?
AS – Basically I split up my routines with blocking, throwing and receiving. Just really the three physical aspects of the game of catching. I try to break it up with different days, different schedules, but just fundamentals, keep it simple and just get ready for that night.
CPB – I know there’s always a lot of information on the other team. You have the scouting reports and all that. How are you able just to handle dealing with all the scouting reports, how to pitch to certain guys and all that?
AS – Do your homework prior to the test. And I think it’s also remembering we play the same five teams in the league. So being able to keep a good notebook on each and every team that we play and also ask questions, you know. We have a lot of resources, like our pitching staff, our pitching coach and also our hitting coaches that we could talk to that just come up with a game plan to pitch to.
CPB – Off the wall question here. Your facemask, have you always caught with that?
AS – The goalie style mask?
CPB – The hockey mask, yeah.
AS – I used the traditional mask in college. It was kind of hard for me to see a little bit and getting the hockey-style mask kind of just protects me a little bit more with foul balls. I feel like it’s better with my eyesight. It’s better at night whenever there’s a lot of glare from the lights. It’s almost like it works as a visor, you know, it just kind of zones into like what you’re looking at. Almost like a football helmet if you ever put one on, but I felt uncomfortable with the other one. So I kind of just go with that and I think it’s cool beacuse it’s unique. It’s my own version. And also Yadier Molina wears one so that was one of the things where I kind of look up to him as a catcher.
CPB – You play first base, you look pretty comfortable over there and really showed some good footwork to handle the throws. What’s it been like playing at first base?
AS – It’s fun. I always say first base is one of the most exciting positions because a lot of people think it’s boring, but in reality it’s very important. I feel great out there. I played there in college. I played there in 2019 and then a little bit in ’21. I’m comfortable around the bag. I’m comfortable with taking ground balls there. So it’s one of those things when I see my name at first base, I get excited because it’s light on my legs and I get to hit, you know. I get to just go out there and have fun and help the team win.
CPB – You’ve had a couple of homers here at Nat Bailey Stadium. There was the one on the Sunday afternoon and there’s also the one against Hillsboro. It was such a charged atmosphere that night with a near bench clearing ball. What do you remember about that night against Hillsboro?
AS – It’s one of those things where it’s like, the ball never lies, you know. It was one of those things where the Hillsboro pitcher (Gerald Ogando) was trying to throw at our guy and he made it pretty clear that he was doing it intentionally. So when those things happened, I definitely didn’t want to get hit in that situation. But once I saw that he was over the plate with the first couple of pitches, I saw it pretty well. And really it was about just being ready for the situation and letting it happen, you know, and making it happen. But I remember it was exciting. I remember it was loud, defintely. The fans here were great that night and yeah, it was fun. It was just an overall really fun night.
CPB – How much do you enjoy playing here at Vancouver?
AS – It’s fun. This is what minor league baseball should be like. We all want to make it to the big leagues. We all know that those stadiums fill up 30, 40 K so 4,000 (people) or 5,000, 6,000. It does get really loud so it’s definitely preparing us for the bigger stages, but man, it’s really fun playing here. The fans are great. All the workers here are amazing. They treat us really good. The city of Vancouver itself is just unbelievable. I’m definitely having a great time here.
CPB – Who would you say has helped you the most in your baseball career?
AS – I have to say my parents (Andrés and Lydia Sosa). They’ve always supported me every single step of the way. My grandfather (Miguel Sotelo), he really taught me the game. Just the little things about processing what’s about to happen on the next pitch and things like that. He really taught me like the mental side of the game physically. I’ve had a lot of great coaches, my high school coach Chans Chapman helped me a lot. Just being able to have that confidence in myself where no matter who you’re playing, treat yourself like that underdog that people may think (you are). That has always helped me playing with that chip on my shoulder. So definitely those four people in my life have had a great impact in my baseball career.
CPB – Final question. What are your goals for 2022?
AS – Just continue to have a great season where I stay healthy and help the team win. I think that’s a big one. Three goals that I had at the beginning of the year was being the hardest worker in the Blue Jays organization, being the best teammate and also winning in everything that I do. Like no matter what it is, taking ownership of my competitive level and no matter if I do win or lose, like at the end of the day, I know I won based on my effort level. So yeah, those are definitely my three personal goals.
- Instagram – @andressosaaa
- Walk-Up Music – “Hypnotize” by The Notorious B.I.G.
- Uniform Numbers – Wore number 23 with the FCL Blue Jays and number 18 with Dunedin in 2021. Wore number 8 with Texas, number 14 with San Jacinto and number 1 with Dallas Baptist.
- Hall of Fame Connection – Grandfather Miguel Sotelo pitched and managed in the Mexican Baseball League and was inducted to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.
- Ahead of Sammy – Andrés has five home runs with the Canadians, one more than Sammy Sosa put up in two partial seasons with the C’s in 1989 and 1991.
Thanks a million again to Andrés Sosa and to C’s broadcaster Tyler Zickel for organizing the chat.