Barons’ Wilkins eager to contribute in season’s second half
by W. Brian Hale
Jun 20, 2012 | 935 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
  Andy Wilkins
Andy Wilkins
Since his return from the disabled list in May, Birmingham first baseman Andy Wilkins has been making his presence known at the plate as a member of the Barons’ lineup.

The former Arkansas Razorback and Carolina League All-Star, who made his Barons debut on April 5, has been productive in the month of June following his return to the active roster — recording three home runs, four doubles and 11 RBIs with a .279 batting average, punctuated by his performance against the Mobile BayBears, where he went 10-24 and scored nine runs in the five-game series.

Wilkins stated that his play against Mobile on the heels of his return from the DL made him feel that the time away had helped him regain his focus and able to better channel his efforts on the field.

“I was struggling before I went on the DL and I think it gave me time to clear my head and mentally get myself back to where I needed to be,” Wilkins said. “I felt that when I returned, I could just play again and really felt comfortable. To have the performance that I had against Mobile — in which our entire team was unbelievable in the series — it was awesome to have that kind of success after being out for so long.”

Wilkins was a three-year letterman Arkansas, where he was a member of the 2009 Razorback team that played in the College World Series. The World Series appearance and the events leading up to the trip to Omaha would be a special time for Wilkins, who would be named to the All-Tournament Team and also named as the Norman Regional’s Most Outstanding Player.

With his former collegiate team once again in Omaha and competing for another national championship, Wilkins fondly recalls some of the moments that made the 2009 postseason a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Being named the Most Outstanding Player in the Norman Regional was truly sensational. The three games that we played there were probably the best I ever played in my life — I think I hit .650 during that span. It was definitely a highlight moment for me,” Wilkins said. “Going to the World Series in itself is really an unexplainable experience — you go out everyday in practice and during the series to get the chance to go to Omaha. To have been a part of it is something you never forget.”

Wilkins also felt that facing the caliber of SEC talent that he and his teammates competed against at Arkansas throughout the season helped prepare him for his professional career.

“We went up against guys who are currently at both the major and minor league level every game — like Drew Pomeranz who was at Ole Miss and is in the Colorado Rockies organization right now,” Wilkins said. “I think you find a lot of that type of talent in the SEC — they tend to move quickly at the minor league range into the big leagues and going up against those players was a benefit for me.”

With the Barons beginning the second-half of the 2012 season against the Mississippi Braves on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Regions Park, Wilkins said not only hopes to remain healthy, but also work hard to be a more consistent at the plate.

“I feel that I’ve shown signs of ability, but I haven’t been able to keep that going at a level that I want it to be, so it’s something that I want to work on,” Wilkins said. “It’s a goal that I feel will not only help me personally, but also help our team in the second half.”