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T-Bolts’ Brauer showing what he’s made of

Windy City Thunderbolts' Andrew Brauer (4) Joliet Slammers catcher Ben Hewett. | JCunningham~For Sun-Times Media

Windy City Thunderbolts' Andrew Brauer (4) and Joliet Slammers catcher Ben Hewett. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 15, 2013 6:35PM



Windy City ThunderBolts outfielder Andrew Brauer is used to proving people wrong.

The Bolingbrook native who now resides in Mokena was a standout at the plate and on the mound at Montini High School, hitting .405 with nine home runs his senior year while compiling a 1.67 ERA and striking out 75 in 541/3 innings pitched.

Still, colleges weren’t exactly knocking down his door.

“People always told me I’d never play college baseball,” Brauer said. “I always told I was too small and just would never make it at the next level.

“I loved baseball and just wanted to work as hard as I could to keep my career going.”

Brauer, whose now listed at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, played two seasons at the College of DuPage before moving on to Lewis, where he hit .343 over two seasons and led the Flyers in RBI both years, finishing with 90 for his career.

Now he’s in the midst of his first full professional season after playing 13 games for the Joliet Slammers last year — and he still has plenty to prove.

“I’d of course love to get a chance with a major league organization,” he said. “I’m kind of coming at it from a different perspective from a lot of the guys in (the Frontier League) who have been in affiliated ball and then ended up here.

“I’m coming the opposite way. I started here and hope to get there. I do think I have a bit more of a chip on my shoulder because I’ve never gotten that chance.”

Brauer hit .295 over 13 games with Joliet last season.

When Ron Biga, who spent the last two seasons as the Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Slammers, became the T-Bolts manager, Brauer is a player he wanted to bring with him.

“Andrew is a great guy to have around and he has a great work ethic,” Biga said. “He worked really hard over the offseason and he’s a much better player because of that. If he can continue to work the way he has, he’ll be successful.”

Brauer prides himself on his defense. He has a wide range in center field and a strong arm honed by pitching in high school and at the College of DuPage.

“I’m ready to pitch if called upon,” he joked. “Pitching has definitely helped me build up my arm, though, and I think it’s one of my strengths as an outfielder.”

Lately, he has made plenty of noise with his bat as well.

Brauer began the season as Windy City’s fourth outfielder, getting an occasional spot start and some pinch-hitting opportunities.

His role has quickly expanded, though, first to an every-day player hitting towards the bottom of the Windy City lineup, and now to a fixture in the middle of the order.

He entered Tuesday’s play leading the team with a .283 average. He was fifth on the team with seven RBI.

“It’s been great to get consistent at-bats and get a chance to play every day,” he said. “I’ve just been trying to put the ball in play and I’ve been taking good at-bats. Hopefully it keeps up.”

Brauer’s success is made even better by the fact that he’s done it in front of friends and family.

“It’s been great playing close to home,” he said. “Having my family and friends get to watch me play every night means a lot. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”



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