Moving from college to the Minor Leagues brings a challenging learning curve, and that curve is right in Andre Lipcius' wheelhouse.A slugging third baseman, Lipcius was balancing baseball with an arduous academic schedule as a nuclear engineering student at the University of Tennessee when he was taken by the Tigers
Moving from college to the Minor Leagues brings a challenging learning curve, and that curve is right in Andre Lipcius' wheelhouse.
A slugging third baseman, Lipcius was balancing baseball with an arduous academic schedule as a nuclear engineering student at the University of Tennessee when he was taken by the Tigers in the third round of the 2019 Draft. He's enjoying a smooth transition to pro ball with Class A West Michigan, hitting .272 with two homers, 13 doubles and 25 RBIs in 61 games.
Classes in plasma physics and thermonuclear fusion tend to serve as a strong foundation to a disciplined learning approach.
"I'm able to understand a lot of things at one time," Lipcius said. "I think I'm pretty coachable and I'm a guy, if you tell me something once, I learn it and give it and I can give it to you back, exactly as you want. I learn pretty well and I'm able to adapt to different things and can understand the game more than some people, I think."
Lipcius' approach to learning served him well at Tennessee, where he started out as a first baseman, was moved to shortstop and settled in at third base. He thrived under the coaching staff of Tony Vitello, who arrived at Rocky Top in 2017.
"In college, with the coaching staff we had at Tennessee, they really taught us to be disciplined and see the little details and understand baseball more," Lipcius said. "I learned so much about baseball and about myself that has translated over to pro ball, when you really have to do it on your own. I wish everyone went through what I went through, to be able to have the mind-set, the discipline I have at the pro level."
Lipcius rocketed up Draft boards under Vitello's staff at Tennessee, learning about his swing and how to study pitchers. At the pro level, he's even more focused on the benefits of observation and reflection, constantly studying the pitcher during a game. He's looking to see whether he's throwing inside or outside, what a pitcher throws with two strikes, what a pitcher throws with runners on base and how a pitcher tries to get a batter out.
He is also aware, though, of the possibility of information overload and "paralysis by analysis."
"All of these things culminate in my head, and it gives me a good plan to go to the plate," Lipcius said. "I always feel prepared. I don't feel like I'm guessing. I don't feel like I'm behind. I feel like I'm prepared every time.
"As an engineer, I kind of overthink things sometimes."
According to Lipcius, he processes all of the information he gained from observing a pitcher and narrows it down to one thing. Then, he lets his talent take over.
"If you just go in there with a plan that's simple, something you know you can do, it makes it easier to let your talent take over," Lipcius said. "With all of the preparation I've done, it makes it easier to go in there with confidence that I'm going to get the job done."
Embracing the intellectual aspect of baseball, Lipcius is also honing the mental toughness that the game demands.
"Pro ball definitely hasn't been easy, trying to figure out how to play every day and get your body right, and figuring out at the same time, when you're going bad, how can you switch it over in the flick of a switch, to turn the page and get on with the new day," Lipcius said. "Talent gets you this far. The mental aspect you have to really battle with. There are so many things that I've learned in pro ball. I think the more positive you are, the more successful you'll be."
Lipcius' relationship with his twin brother Luc -- a left-handed hitter on the Tennessee Volunteers -- is another driving force in his pursuit of a Major League Baseball career. Luc Lipcius is also a nuclear engineering major. He's a junior on the Volunteers roster but was limited by injuries the past season.
"We don't hold anything back from each other," Lipcius said. "If we see something wrong, we'll say it. We don't spare feelings with each other. We're past that, being twin brothers. Anything we can do to push each other, to hold each other accountable and make each other better is basically what we did all through college."
Being on a team without his twin for the first time has been an adjustment.
"It was so nice having him there at Tennessee, living with him," Lipcius said. "I don't have him here, so it's weird being on a team that he's not on. It's the first time. But I know he's going to do big things. He's been banged up a few years, but he'll get to this level soon."
In briefDragon on fire:
Dayton's Juan Martinez
boasts an 11-game hitting streak. Martinez is 15-for-43 (.349) over that stretch, which includes two homers. His streak equals the longest of the season by a Dragons player (Randy Ventura
Twins outfielder Byron Buxton
is back in Cedar Rapids, this time on a rehab stint. Buxton played in Cedar Rapids in 2013 and earned Player of the Year and Top Prospect awards. The former first-round pick was placed on the 10-day injured list on Aug. 3 with a shoulder injury.Taking advantage: C.J. Stubbs
is making the most of a promotion to Quad Cities. Stubbs was hitting .213 in 39 games for Tri-City of the New York-Penn League. In 10 games with Quad Cities, he's hitting .306 with three homers and 12 RBIs. Stubbs, a 10th-round Astros' selection out of the University of Southern California, is the brother of Garrett Stubbs
, another former Trojan who is also in the Astros organization.
Curt Rallo is a contributor to MiLB.com.