Andrew James Ellis 17
Born: April 9, 1981 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Bats: Right Throws: Right 6’3″ 215 lbs.
I’m officially now a member of the A. J. Ellis fan club. It angers me that we wasted a whole season on Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro when we had A.J. Ellis in the wings. I’m sure Ellis wasn’t happy to be shuttled back-and-forth between L.A. and Albuquerque either. Although during the offseason some outlets ranked the Dodger catching dead last, A.J. has done his best to prove them wrong this season. A.J. is the Dodgers’ third-best hitter behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. So far in 28 games played, Ellis is hitting .314 with a impressive .454 OBP. He has three homeruns, five doubles, and even one triple with 15 RBI. Not too shabby for a 31-year old catcher.
A.J. Ellis attended Paul Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky where he lettered in baseball. “Sweet” Lou Johnson had attended the same school. He went on to play for Austin Peay University where he finished with a career .351 batting average, and he holds the university’s all-time hit record with 263 hits. The Dodgers selected Ellis in the 18th round of the 2003 MLB Draft. A.J. began his professional career with the South Georgia Waves and then climbed the Dodgers’ farm system ladder. He played two years with the Advanced-A Vero Beach Dodgers, then he moved up to the AA-Jaxsonville Suns where he played from 2006-2007.
A.J. made his MLB debut for the Dodgers on September 15, 2008. He only had 3 at bats in his brief time with the Dodgers in ’08. He scored his first run when he was on base when Russell Martin, the Dodgers everyday catcher at the time, hit a two-run homerun.
In 2009, Ellis was primarily the starting catcher for the Albuquerque Isotopes where he hit .314 in 90 games. He was called up to the Dodgers in September, but only had the opportunity to have 10 at bats. He got his first Major League hit (a single) and RBI in the last game of the season on October 4, 2009 against the Colorado Rockies.
In 2010, Ellis started in AAA where he played in 18 games, but be was called up to the Dodgers when Brad Ausmus went on the DL. He played in 44 games for the Dodgers, and he ended up with a .278 batting average in 108 at bats. In an extra-inning game with the Atlanta Braves on June 6, 2010, Ellis had a walk-off hit in the 11th inning giving the Dodgers a 6-5 win.
After Russell Martin was injured, the Dodgers did not resign him. Martin left for New York, and most of us desired to see Ellis as the starting catcher. Instead, the Dodgers signed Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro. A.J. Ellis shuffled between AAA and the Dodgers once again in 2011. He played in 59 games for the Isotopes where he hit .304, and he played in 31 games for the Dodgers and hit .271. He went 23 for 85 in 2011 with 2 homeruns, a double, a triple, and 11 RBI. His first career MLB homerun came on August 24, 2011 off Jaime Garcia of the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Defensively, A.J. Ellis is a solid backstop. Through the current season, he has only made 3 errors in his
MLB career. In 2010 he caught a MLB career-high 10 base runners stealing, and so far this season he has already caught 11 would-be base thieves good for an impressive 42% caught stealing percentage through his 27th game.
This season all the hard work and patience has finally paid off for A.J, and boy is he making a point to show that he is here to stay and is perhaps one of the best catchers in the league. His on-base percentage is tops in baseball, and his batting average ranks amongst the best catchers in the league. Ellis worked hard this past off season conditioning his body and losing 19 pounds.
A.J. and his wife Cindy have two children, daughter Ainsley and son Luke. When Luke was born, A.J. was on the road with the Dodgers in 2010. He watched the birth live on web cam from his hotel room. His brother Josh is a pitcher in the Diamondbacks’ farm system.
A.J. needs your vote to garner a spot on the All-Star team to represent the Dodgers. Please cast your vote here for A.J. Ellis and your other favorite Dodgers. You can also read some fun folklore facts about A.J. on this tumblr page.
“He just keeps getting better and better,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “Guys like that, you can’t limit them. This guy is a winner. He’s just kind of relentless.”