Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Sports

July 4, 2013

Yaz kicks off professional baseball career

Yastrzemski ready to roll in pros with Baltimore Orioles

It may not have been a work of art, but for Mike Yastrzemski, it still went into the record books as his first hit in professional baseball.

“It was a 3-2 count and I was trying to stay in the at-bat,” Yastrzemski said. “I got jammed on a fastball inside and it broke my bat. But I managed to hit the ball up the middle into center field for a base hit.”

The Andover resident and former St. John’s Prep and Vanderbilt star kicked off his professional baseball career last Friday as a member of the Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds, the New York Penn League affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, who selected Yastrzemski in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

“It’s amazing to have the chance to do something I have dreamed about my whole life,” said Yastrzemski by phone from Wappingers Falls, N.Y., where the IronBirds were playing the Hudson Valley Renegades. “It’s a very special opportunity to follow in the footsteps of my father and grandfather, and I am going to work as hard as I can to make the best of it.”

Yastrzemski made his first appearance on Friday, walking in his only at-bat. In his first start on Sunday, he notched that first single and added another walk.

“It’s a little weird getting my feet wet at a new level,” he said. “But it’s still baseball. It’s still 60 feet, 6 inches from the mound to home and 90 feet from home to first base.”

A former Andover Legion standout, Yastrzemski, wasn’t sitting around the TV with baited breath on draft day.

Instead, he was exactly where he wanted to be, preparing to play baseball as Vanderbilt was set to take on Louisville in the NCAA Super Regional.

“I was hoping I would be drafted but nothing was for sure,” he said. “I was getting ready to take batting practice. My cellphone was in my locker and someone grabbed me. It was Baltimore and they were calling to congratulate me.”

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