He stands about 5-foot-8 –, but that’s if he’s standing on his tiptoes or perhaps the Manhattan Yellow Pages. But despite his height — or lack thereof — Andrew Troya is the first baseman for the Hudson Catholic baseball team.
Usually, first basemen are these big, burly types, the guys who provide a huge target for the infielders to throw the ball to.
Troya is totally unconventional because he’s far from big.
But that doesn’t stop Troya from doing his job as the Hawks’ first sacker, and doing that job quite well, for that matter.
“He’s one of our main guys and definitely the most consistent,” said Hudson Catholic head coach Alberto Vasquez. “He’s also one of our most intelligent players. He has a great glove, an amazing glove at first base. I think he’s the best defensive first baseman in the county. Even though he’s short, he’s always played first base. He usually saves two-to-three runs a game with his glove.”
Troya stepped into his first practice two years ago and told the coaches that he was a first baseman.
“I played first base my whole life,” Troya said. “The coaches said right away that I didn’t look like a first baseman. I had to separate myself from everyone else and prove that I could play first.”
That he has done — and quite well. Troya has destroyed the stereotype of a first baseman, like the major league behemoths Prince Fielder in Detroit or Mark Texieira with the Yankees.
“He has soft hands,” Vasquez said. “His reaction time on balls to him is tremendous. He’s not afraid to put himself in front of the ball. No matter where you throw it, he’s going to get it.”
Vasquez said that he wasn’t shocked when Troya first came to practice and told him he played first base.
“He came in as a freshman and you could see he had good hands,” Vasquez said. “You see this little guy and I said, ‘OK, let’s give him a shot.’ But I knew he could do it. I’ve seen him go to his right with such ease.”
Lately, Troya doesn’t want to be known as the one who simply changed the way first basemen appear with his glove. He wants to earn recognition as a hitter as well.
“I’ve always been a cautious hitter,” Troya said. “I know when it’s the right time to swing. I’m not afraid to take a walk. I watch the pitcher release the ball more than anything. If I’m on base, then I’ve done my job. As long as I’m on first base, it doesn’t bother me. That’s all care about.”
But lately, Troya has shown an incredible sense of power.
For example, he belted two long home runs in a game against Marist last Friday.
“I never hit a homer before,” Troya said. “I’m not used to that. The first one was unexpected, because it didn’t feel like a shot off the bat. I thought I popped up to shortstop. The second one, I knew. I got all of it. I pimped it a little running around the bases.”
In the game, the junior first baseman had four hits, including the two homers, and had six RBI. He also had two games of two hits and two RBI, giving him 10 RBI for the week.
For his efforts, Troya has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Vasquez said that he wasn’t surprised by Troya’s sudden power outburst.
“I knew that he could do it,” Vasquez said. “He has a quick bat. He always makes solid contact. He uses his complete body when he swings. He has a powerful lower body, a strong lower half. So he’s able to drive the ball. Those two balls he hit for homers were hit well.”
Vasquez likes Troya’s personality.
“He’s a good kid, a pretty solid kid,” Vasquez said. “He’s in the Scholar Program, so he’s also a very good student. Everyone always wants to talk about the big guys. Well, he’s one of our big guys. He can play with anyone. It’s fun to watch him play the game. He’s just a good baseball player, regardless of his size. He has that confidence going for him and has the good characteristics of a good leader.”
Troya is only a junior. He would love to get the chance to play college baseball. Someone will have to overlook the size and give the kid a shot.
“This is my junior year, but it’s a big year,” Troya said. “I knew I had to step it up this year and play the role of a leader on this team.”
The Hawks own a 7-5 record and are in the middle of the pack for the HCIAL White Division crown.
“I think my defense is deceiving,” Troya said. “People think I can’t stretch to get a ball because of my size. I think I am one of the better scoopers around. I can get the ball in the dirt better than anyone. The coaches tell me that I’m a vacuum over there. I also have good flexibility, so I can stretch pretty far for a little guy.”
Troya said that there’s a certain adjective that best describes his play.
“I like to be smooth,” Troya said. “I want to stay smooth and calm all the time. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I just go do it. And I can be doing a little better hitting the ball.”
Regardless, Vasquez is glad to have the North Bergen native holding the fort at first for the Hawks.
“He’s just a good person to have at the top of our lineup,” Vasquez said. “I’m glad we got him. He’s the same player every day.” – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.