The Feature Star of Summer 2017 is American Andrew Medeiros who played for Technika Brno of the Czech Extra-League in 2017 and appeared in his third tournament for International Stars and won the MVP of Prague Baseball Week leading the Stars to their fourth championship in the past five years. Medeiros was chosen as the Feature Star mostly due to his incredible offensive and defensive showing at Prague Baseball Week where he led in almost every offensive category – hitting a robust .529 in six games (9 for 17) with 2 doubles, 3 home runs, driving in 8 runs and scoring another 7 runs and totaling an incredible 20 bases for the tournament. Medeiros also caught the championship game, helping starting pitcher Max MacNabb throw a complete-game shutout. For the summer season in the Czech Extra-League, Medeiros hit .372 with a .439 OBP, slugged .641, hit 8 home runs and drove in 45 runs, while playing all over the field, and was named the #5 batter of the season in the International Baseball Community’s year-end rankings of top import players in the 2017 season. Read our interview with Andrew and learn about his incredible journey from a NCAA Division 3 player, undrafted and released from Independent Minor League ball to becoming one of the most accomplished overseas professional baseball players in recent memory….
International Stars (IS): First, can you tell us a bit about your background/story… Where did you grow up, where did you play college ball at, what teams have you played for overseas?
Andrew Medeiros (AM): So I grew up in Southeast Massachusetts about an hour south of Boston in a small city called New Bedford. I started playing baseball around the age of five and continued to play throughout high school and into college. I was a four year Varsity starter at my high school before going to D3 Westfield State University for four years. After college I was not signed by any affiliated club so I went to the Pecos League for part of one season. After being released I started looking into baseball overseas and got a contract offer to play in Canberra, ACT, Australia for the Ainslie-Gungahlin Bears. From there I began my first of three seasons in Europe. I started in Belgium with the Deurne Spartans, helping them win their first championship in club history. From there I went to the Rouen Huskies in the French League, as well as played for the International Stars for the first time. I got to play with the Stars for both Prague Baseball Week and the Yoshida Challenge in Paris. I currently just finished up my season in the Czech Republic with Technika Brno where and I also played for the International Stars again in Prague Baseball Week where I was named tournament MVP.
IS: How did you first get into playing baseball overseas?
AM: I first found out about baseball overseas through a friend at an Indy ball tryout. He suggested that I look into the International Baseball Community website and get in touch with David Burns. From there I made a profile and within a week or so I had my first overseas contract to play in Australia.
IS: You’ve played in a lot of different countries so far, what has the differences been between the places you’ve played? Where did you like to live the most?
AM: So far I have played in four different countries (Australia, Belgium, France, and Czech Republic) and all of them are vastly different in terms of how they approach baseball. Baseball is more seriously played in Australia and Czech Republic aside from a handful of teams in both France and Belgium. The level of play is probably the highest in Czech but France’s top two teams can compete in any league in Europe. As far as living goes, my set up in Belgium with a host family provided me with some strong family bonds that I will hold onto for the rest of my life. The whole club is treated as a big family and all of the members live and die by how the first team performs. So winning the Belgian series in 2015 for the club’s first championship was very special to me to be able to be a part of that. Czech is also a great place to live with very cheap cost of living, great sights, and of course lots and lots of Czech beer. And obviously you can’t go wrong spending a Winter in beautiful Australia.
IS: How would you compare the level of European baseball to what you were accustomed to playing back in the States?
AM: European baseball as a whole is still growing, but some of the stronger countries can be compared to D1 [NCAA Division 1] baseball and many of the Indy ball leagues. However there are some leagues that baseball isn’t a major sport so it might bring down the “average” talent of European baseball. With that said though, there are still many individual teams out here that can be compared to low level affiliated teams [Minor League] back home in the States.
IS: What are some of the adjustments that you’ve had to make in your lifestyle or on the field while playing overseas?
AM: Out of all the adjustments you have to make coming overseas, I think the biggest one for me is understanding that baseball in Europe isn’t professional and that there are only a few players per team that will get paid. Therefore when you are at practice with only eight guys it’s hard to not get upset but then you realize that the local players do this for fun and for most of them it’s not that serious of a sport. Changing your lifestyle to European ways is also a big task. Long summer nights can get real long when you live in a fifth floor apartment with no air conditioning.
IS: Who or what do you credit for your success in your overseas playing career?
AM: I think first off I have to credit my family and girlfriend for all the sacrifices they have made for me to be able to play overseas. It is hard to be away from them for such a long stretch of time but they have been very supportive of my career and have been behind me every step of the way. I also would credit David Burns for organizing the IBC website and giving me a shot to play in Australia for my first job. From there he and his team have done great work in helping me to land new jobs each and every season.
IS: What are some favorite spots you have traveled to?
AM: I would have to say that Prague may be one of the best cities I have been to.
It has that old Gothic city look and feel to it and it’s a great place to get loose with the guys after a Prague Baseball Week championship. New Zealand may be my favorite overall though. With the beautiful water and mountains it was a peaceful place with some of the clearest water I have ever seen as well as getting to experience glow worm caves, waterfalls, and more stars that you can ever imagine seeing.
IS: A favorite question we like to ask guys is what kind of music are you listening to or have you discovered while playing abroad?
AM: I used to be a huge country music guy Luke Bryan, FGL, Zac Brown, Kenny Chesney, etc. but since I’ve been in Europe I’ve started to listen to more house and techno type music. Living in Belgium and being close to Tomorrowland and attending an Afrojack concert in France got me more into that high energy type of music.
IS: Do you have a favorite experience in playing baseball overseas?
AM: Top baseball moment EVER would have to be the Prague Baseball Week game vs Russia. I will just leave it at that but the guys there will all remember it and I think that would be a hard thing to top. A close second would have to be winning the Belgian Series as I said before in 2015 with Deurne. (Watch below to see Andrew’s top moment ever at the 2017 Prague Baseball Week vs. Russia National team)
IS: What can you tell us about your experience with the International Stars program?
AM: International Stars is the experience I usually always look forward to most before heading overseas. Playing with some of the best foreign talent in Europe it’s usually a great time with plenty of laughs and some great baseball. Getting to know everyone’s story and just being around a bunch of guys all doing the same thing as you is a great thing. It’s also a good travel planning time because you hear of all the places guys have been and what they suggest that you should do while in a particular city or country.