Mark Daschbach didn’t miss a single game of his son’s junior season at Stanford. As Andrew Daschbach tore through the Pac-12 in 2019, smashing 17 home runs for the second consecutive year, Mark was there to witness it all.
“I think he lives vicariously through me,” Andrew said.
Mark, a Stanford graduate himself, even made the trip east from Atherton, Calif., several times later that year to see Andrew begin his pro career with the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds.
“He’s loved sports his whole life, so for him to see his son do what he’s doing, I think it excites him a lot,” Andrew said.
Both Mark and his wife, Liz, were tennis players, so perhaps they can take some credit for Andrew’s dynamic swing, which impressed the Orioles enough to take him with an 11th-round draft pick in 2019. Daschbach also received high marks for his glove at first base, where he earned All-Pac-12 Defense honors.
The defense didn’t disappoint in Aberdeen, where Daschbach played 35 errorless games at first. The power, however, was slower to develop. He slugged just three homers, a total he admitted was disappointing. But the 23-year-old expects to have more pop in 2021.
“I think I’ve grown a lot in understanding how to tap into that (power), swinging a wood bat and facing a lot better pitching,” Andrew said in an interview with “MASN All Access” after returning from fall instructional camp in Sarasota. “I saw a little bit of that down in instructional camp in some live games, which is exciting to see it translate from batting practice into games.”
Despite hitting .222 with the IronBirds, Daschbach maintained a respectable .349 on-base percentage. He drew 25 walks, the same total he drew in his final season at Stanford, when he had 60 more plate appearances.
“My approach has changed a lot since coming out here,” Daschbach said. “In college, you had a pretty good idea of what guys were gonna throw in certain counts, so I would ambush a lot of fastballs. That was kinda how I made my money there. Here, it’s a lot different. You see a lot of off-speed early in counts or guys switch up their sequences very well. I’ve adjusted my approach.”
Daschbach is also making a concerted effort to cut down the strikeouts. His 47 strikeouts were tied for third most on the team.
“Power is a tool of mine, but with power comes some swing-and-miss,” he said. “My time (in Sarasota) was spent trying to figure out how I’m gonna build a routine to limit the strikeouts and raise the walks.”
Another encouraging characteristic of Daschbach’s game is his ability to hit to all fields, an uncommon trait for young power hitters. He pulled just 36.9 percent of his balls hit in play, while 31.5 percent went to center and another 31.5 percent went to right field, per FanGraphs.com.
“If a guy hangs a breaking ball, maybe I’ll pull it. If a guy throws a fastball and I might be a little late, I’ll drive it to right-center. Just trying to use the field a little bit, become more of a pure hitter,” said Daschbach.
Daschbach doesn’t just extend this cerebral approach to baseball. He worked toward finishing his degree in science, technology and society, with a focus in business and entrepreneurship, during baseball’s shutdown last summer.
The time without minor league games also gave him an opportunity to be back at home in California with his family. With limited access to hitting facilities, Andrew found himself in a familiar place: taking batting practice thrown by his father.
“It kinda felt like Little League again, him throwing me BP every day and going to the field together,” he said with a smile. “That was a really cool part of it. Looking at the bright side of it, I got to spend a bunch of time with family and friends back at home.”