24 Under 24: #16 Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Portland Timbers

16. Andrew Jean-Baptiste

Pos: D | Portland Timbers | Age: 21

Andrew Jean-Baptiste’s coming-out party was a sight to see. The charismatic central defender scored a game-winning, stoppage-time goal in early July against the LA Galaxy, ripped off his shirt and whipped the sell-out crowd at JELD-WEN Field into a frenzy with his fevered celebration. But the 21-year-old, who was the Timbers' eighth-overall pick in the 2012 SuperDraft, is on this list because of his work on the backline. Although inconsistent at times, Jean-Baptiste has also shown signs of dominance with his size (6-foot-2, 205 lbs.) and athleticism.

What TDs and coaches like: "Fantastic athlete. Very strong. Very powerful. Fast player. ... I think he’s done quite well. He’s an excellent athlete, and it’s hard to beat him one-v-one because of that. ... Mirrors what he was in college. He's a player that continues to have big upside. Good news for him is that he's getting a chance to play. I think he's improving through that opportunity. ... What do you look for in a center back? You look for strength, power, ability to win challenges and the ability to win challenges without committing a foul. Pace because you don't want to get turned. To be honest, the kid has almost that whole tool box. ... Very aggressive. If I was playing as a striker, I wouldn't want to match up against him. There is almost a little bit of a fear factor there."

Where TDs and coaches want improvement: "I think just concentration. I feel like sometimes he’ll switch off and make a mistake that could make a difference in the game. ... How do you beat him? Everything off the shoulder in behind him. Don't allow him to find you. ... I’ve seen a couple games where maybe he’s lost concentration and given away a penalty or a play which resulted in a goal. ... Good physical characteristics, but still makes bad decisions at times. ... For me, he's got to improve his movement. It's not what you do when you have the ball, it's what you do off the ball. If I'm a striker, I am drawing him into an area to get him out of his comfort zone. ... To be the elite player he could be based on his physical talent, he needs to make better decisions."

Opta Says: Matt Hedges (10.4) is the only player eligible for 24 Under 24 with more clearances per 90 minutes than Andrew Jean-Baptiste (8.4) during the 2013 season.

Tale of the Tape
Last Year in 24U24: N/A
Castrol Index (as of 9/17/13): #127

2013 Stats
Matches played: 26
Matches started: 22
Goals: 1
Assists: 1

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