'Underdog mentality': CMU star pitcher Andrew Taylor dealing with enormous expectations ahead of 2022 season
The Chippewa RHP is ranked among the best pitchers in college baseball
Andrew Taylor set the world on fire in his first full season as a Central Michigan Chippewa.
The lanky right-hander sets an imposing presence on the mound, standing 6-foot-5 and staring into the soul of opposing hitters. After COVID cut his first year short, he simply rewrote the Chippewa record book in his second year, creating a new single-season record for strikeouts. His 11 wins ranks third.
Taylor spent his summer in the Cape Cod League, the top collegiate summer league, playing for the Bourne Braves. He made two appearances, striking out 11 in seven innings pitched.
He was named an All-American and Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year for his performance among numerous other honors. Heading into 2022, he's a projected All-American and tabbed as the fourth best starter in America by D1Baseball.com.
This is all new to the Caledonia native, who arrived in Mount Pleasant with little fanfare outside of those in the baseball circle.
Taylor isn't fazed by the newfound attention. Rather than look ahead to what might come next, he's focused on living in the moment.
"I basically have just tried to take it one day at a time, kind of like I did last year," Taylor said during CMU baseball's media day. "Obviously, I'm not going to fly under the radar, but I was able to last year. So just using that underdog mentality still, even though I was first team preseason All-American, second-team last year.
"Just taking that and being like, 'That was last year.' It's a new year, and they're still time for me to develop and that's really what I've worked on over this past year."
The right-hander will make his first start of the 2022 season Saturday against Coastal Carolina. He knows that when he steps on the mound for the first time, what happened last year becomes the past.
"Just trying to put that in the back of my mind," Taylor said. "Like, yeah, I am good, but I'm not that good because (of) preseason rankings or whatever. I don't think they honestly mean a whole lot until you go out there and prove yourself."
With his status and experience, Taylor has also emerged as a leader within the Chippewa clubhouse. He wouldn't call himself the ace of the pitching staff, instead opting for a 1A and 1B approach with senior Jordan Patty. Yet, he said he has taken on a new role helping to lead the others along with Patty and injured teammate Cam Miller.
"Everyone comes to us and asks about, like, 'What are you seeing on this?'" Taylor said. "So yeah, I would say Cam and Patty are probably more vocal leaders. I'm kind of a guy that you're going to step aside with afterwards, you're like, 'Hey, how was this?'"
Patty flourished in his own right and the team will miss experienced senior Cam Brown. Yet, they're set to return one of the top rotations in the MAC with Patty, Taylor and lefty Garrett Navarra. Coach Jordan Bischel doesn't have a set fourth starter yet, saying he plans to try a variety of arms.
Taylor has plenty to show for his talents. He led by example last year, pacing the staff in almost every category. Yet, he's ready to move on and write a new story in what could be his final season before the professional ranks come calling.
He was ranked as the 63rd best draft-eligible prospect by ESPN's Kiley McDaniel in June and caught eyes after winning his final seven regular season starts including an eight-inning, 10 strikeout shutout against Toledo in which he allowed just one hit.
He's taken on the trajectory akin to that of a rockstar. In his first full year, he put on a dazzling show. Now, it's time for the encore.