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Andrew Albers

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Andrew William Albers

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Andrew Albers has pitched in the majors and for Team Canada. He won the Gold Medal game in the 2011 Pan American Games, Canada's first Gold in a global baseball tournament, and repeated with the 2015 Gold Medal-winning team.

Albers' high school baseball coach was his father. He was taken by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 12th round of the 2004 amateur draft but did not sign. Going on to the University of Kentucky], he had a 4-6, 5.24 record as a freshman then was 3-3 with 7 saves and a 5.40 ERA as a sophomore in 2006. Back in the rotation in 2007, he went 6-5 with a 4.85 ERA. The senior had his best campaign in 2008 at 7-4, 2.40 with five saves and a .226 opponent average; he fanned 64 in 56 1/3 innings. That season, he was one of three Canadians on the Kentucky squad, alongside future first-rounder James Paxton and Albers' 2011 Team Canada teammate Chris Bisson. He was picked by the San Diego Padres in the 10th round of the 2008 amateur draft, one of 14 straight college players San Diego drafted that year.

Albers was excellent for the 2008 AZL Padres - 7 innings, 3 hits, 1 unearned run, 7 strikeouts. His season ended early due to injury. He had Tommy John surgery then was released by San Diego in early 2010. Signing with the independent Les Capitales de Québec, he showed that he was still a top hurler, with a 3-0, 1.40 record in 40 games; he saved 17, fanned 59 in 57 2/3 IP and had a WHIP under 1. He tied former major leaguers Juan Padilla and Duaner Sanchez for second in the Canadian-American Association in saves, one behind leader Romas Hicks. He was named the league's All-Star relief pitcher.

That kind of performance earned him another look in Organized Baseball as the Minnesota Twins signed him. He did very well in 2011, splitting time between the Fort Myers Miracle (4-1, 4 Sv, 1.55, 7 BB in 52 1/3 IP) and New Britain Rock Cats (4-1, 2.91, 7 BB in 43 1/3 IP). That brought his record in 80 games as a pro to 12-2, 21 Sv, 1.80.

Albers was put on the Team Canada roster for the 2011 Baseball World Cup and 2011 Pan American Games. In Canada's World Cup opener, he faced a Puerto Rican national team with three former major leaguers (Hiram Bocachica, Luis Figueroa and Jesus Feliciano) as well as a top prospect (Reymond Fuentes). Albers allowed a leadoff single to Fuentes but allowed no more hits over the next five innings. He left with a 4-0 lead, relieved by Mike Johnson; Albers got credit for the win. He later tossed solid relief against Taiwan and in a Canadians win over the eventual champion Netherlands (3 perfect innings). He blanked South Korea for five innings before Dustin Molleken wrapped up the shutout. He finished the event 2-0 with no runs and 7 hits in 15 innings, the top starter on the Bronze Medal winners. He failed to make the tournament All-Star team as Hyoun-taek Oh was picked as the top starting pitcher. In the Pan American Games, he again starred for Canada, with one run and 10 whiffs in 9 2/3 IP. In the Gold Medal game, he helped Canada win its first major international baseball competition by beating Team USA and Andy Van Hekken, 2-1. He struck out 8 in 6 2/3 IP and allowed only one run (Brett Carroll driving in A.J. Pollock) before being relieved by Scott Richmond.

He was primarily a starter in 2012 with the GCL Twins (1-0, 1 R in 4 2/3 IP) and New Britain Rock Cats (4-3, 3.75). He continued his good work for the Canadian team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers held in Germany in September of 2012: he pitched the game that clinched a spot for Canada in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, defeating Germany 11-1, while giving up one run (a solo homer by Aaron Altherr) on two hits in 6 innings. He pitched once in the WBC, with three innings in relief of Chris Leroux in Canada's only win of the tournament, 10-3 over Mexico, on March 9th. He gave up six hits and two runs.

He started 2013 very well for the Rochester Red Wings (11-5, 2.86) and was called up when fellow Canadian Scott Diamond was demoted. Albers was a winner in his major league debut for the Twins on August 6, 2013. He was outstanding, throwing 8 1/3 scoreless innings against the red hot Kansas City Royals, who had won 12 of their last 13 games. He tired in the 9th and, having thrown 109 pitches, was taken out, missing a chance at becoming the first Twins pitcher ever to throw a shutout in his big league debut. He was still credited with the 7-0 win as reliever Casey Fien recorded the game's last two outs on a double-play grounder. He was the first major leaguer from Saskatchewan since Terry Puhl had played his last game back in 1991. In his second start against the Cleveland Indians on August 12th, Albers did even better than in his debut. He retired the first 11 batters of the game and limited his opponents to a pair of singles as he tossed a masterful 3-0 complete game shutout. He finished 2-5 with a 4.05 ERA for the 2013 Twins, with only 7 walks in 60 IP. Despite spending the last month in the majors, he tied Graham Godfrey and Ethan Martin for 4th in the 2013 IL in wins and was 5th in ERA (between Jose Alvarez and Yohan Pino). Among Twins farmhands, only D.J. Baxendale won more games.

Albers signed with the Korea Baseball Organization's Hanwha Eagles for 2014 but was only 6-13 with a 5.89 ERA; in a high-offense season, he gave up 200 hits in 151 1/3 IP. He was second in the KBO in losses, behind only Kyung-eun Noh.

Albers was back in the US in 2015; through mid-July, he was 2-9 with a 4.40 ERA for the Buffalo Bisons and had allowed one run in 2 2/3 IP in a brief stint with the Toronto Blue Jays. He then joined Canada for the 2015 Pan American Games, posting a 2.84 ERA in three relief decisions as Canada repeated as Gold Medalists. Previously, only Cuba had won more than one baseball Gold in the Pan American Games, let alone two in a row. His first outings were nearly identical. He relieved Leroux with a 4-0 lead in the 7th against the Dominican national team. He gave up a homer to Pedro Feliz then retired six batters in a row before Jeff Francis closed out the win. In his second game, he relieved Shawn Hill with a 3-0 lead in the 7th against the Cuban national team and allowed an Alfredo Despaigne homer, then retired six in a row before Francis saved it. Thankfully, things played out differently in the Gold Medal game. He relieved Francis with a 4-4 tie in the 8th and worked 2 1/3 shutout innings before Leroux wrapped up a 7-6 win (the US scoring two in the 10th, and Canada three runs).

Albers is the prototypical crafty lefthander. His fastball tops out at only 86 mph, and is complemented by a slow curveball that he throws around 67 mph. He compensates for the lack of raw stuff with outstanding control and a great understanding of the art of pitching, keeping batters off-balance by changing speeds and location and hitting his spots.

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