By: Michael Wottreng
Growing up in Worcester, Mass., John Andreoli was surrounded by athletic success. His grandfather, Fran O’Brien, coached baseball (from 1969 to 1996) and basketball (1972-1986) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His father, John Sr., was a linebacker at Holy Cross and played for the New England Patriots in 1984.
“On my mom and dad’s side, we have coaches everywhere you look,” Andreoli said about his family’s lineage. ”I was raised on a ball field whether it was football or baseball. It definitely instilled a lot of great values in me and taught me to play the game the right way.”
The outfielder starred in two sports at St. John’s High School playing baseball and quarterback for the football team where he completed over 50 percent of his passes and threw for seven touchdowns.
The six-foot-one, 215 pound athlete decided to play baseball at the University of Connecticut, a decision that helped bring the Huskies back to baseball prominence.
“It was unbelievable,” Andreoli stated on his time in Storrs. “We model ourselves with a blue collar mentality, which I try to still play with today. There’s a lot of great history there. When we showed up, we had a great freshman class and the class ahead of us was great as well. We built the program back up. We went to the super regional my last year there. I think we had 11 guys get drafted. It was pretty neat to be a part of something bigger than yourself.”
It was the first NCAA Tournament appearance for the program since 1994 and the deepest the squad had been in the tournament since 1977, when UConn advanced to the College World Series.
Andreoli succeeded on the field and in the classroom. The 2013 Florida State League All-Star earned a degree in finance following the 2012 season.
“A lot of my family is in the insurance industry,” Andreoli said on his academic decision. ”Eventually when my career ends, whenever it is, I think that’s what I will end up going into. I’ve always been a numbers guy. Our coach, Jim Penders, really emphasizes academics and you put that first and made sure we were doing well in the classroom before doing well in between the lines.”
The team’s success at Connecticut shined a spotlight on the Second Team All-Big East performer in 2011 as he received a phone call from the Chicago Cubs, making him the organization’s 17th round pick in 2011.
“I was with my family,” Andreoli recalled. “It was after we beat Clemson my junior year in their regional. I was already on cloud nine going to a super regional. I ended up getting the call when I was on the bus with the team.”
In just over two seasons, the Clemson Regional All-Tournament team selection has a .294 batting average with 92 stolen bases and an on-base percentage of just under .400. Andreoli believes that the entire Cubs organization has helped his success on a season-to-season basis.
“I’ve learned so much about the game that I didn’t know before,” Andreoli said. “Mariano Duncan, our hitting coach [in Daytona], helped me with my approach and how to approach each pitcher day-by-day.”
With an endless support system and terrific talent, John Andreoli has helped the Smokies capture the lead in the North Division of the Southern League with a month left in the season.
To stay current with all the latest news, follow Smokies on Radio on Twitter and like the Smokies on Radio Facebook page. Michael Wottreng is a Broadcast and Multimedia Assistant for the Smokies Radio Network. You can follow Michael on Twitter here: @MWottreng