Tag: Andrew Yerzy

Yerzy looks to move forward in first full season with Diamondbacks

Heading into his first full season of professional baseball, Andrew Yerzy is excited to keep moving up the minor-league ladder and build on what he started last year.

After being selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second round – 52nd overall – last year, and signing for $1,214,100, the 18-year-old former Toronto Mets and Canadian Junior National Team catcher united with the organization in the latter half of June and joined the Missoula Osprey in the advance-rookie class Pioneer League.

Yerzy spent 18 games with the Osprey before returning to the Arizona League, where he hit his first professional home run with the AZL Diamondbacks on August 17 against the Royals. He totalled 45 pro games last year after leaving the Canadian Premier Baseball League, adding five doubles and 16 RBI between both squads.

“My first year of pro ball was pretty good,” Yerzy said. “It wasn’t much different than a two-month long Junior National Team trip, to be honest. What we do with Team Canada and how Greg [Hamilton, Baseball Canada’s director of national teams] runs his camps is very comparable to what we do in the minors.”

Grateful for his time with the Mets and Team Canada, Yerzy credits the exposure to professional competition that he saw for three years with the Junior National Team as the biggest factor in helping him adjust to the next level, though he knows there is room for improvement as he continues to face high-calibre opponents consistently.

“The difference in professional baseball from the junior team was that you weren’t just seeing [power] arms for two weeks,” Yerzy said. “It’s every day now. On a trip with the junior team you only face pro guys for two weeks, and then it’s back to high school arms. And in pro ball, they are bringing out starters who are sitting 90 to 93 [mph] every day, and then having someone come out of the pen at 95-plus.”

Over just the last year, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound backstop has already seen his own game evolve, and is looking forward to more of the same as he heads out of extended spring training and into his upcoming season.

“Baseball is a game of adaptation, so I feel like your game has to constantly evolve, or else you’ll be stuck in the same spot you’re always in,” Yerzy said. “I feel like for me as a player, I get better every day with reps.”

“In terms of hitting, catching, and overall learning the game, I’ve gotten better, as well as my mental side has gotten a lot better. Back home, you can only do this for two weeks at a time, and you have a set time when you’re done. Out here, it’s every single day, so you can’t dwell on things that don’t go your way, or if you had a bad game.”

After spending much of his winter back at home in North York, and countless hours at Out of the Park Sports, the home of the Toronto Mets, Yerzy has enjoyed playing outdoors at the Diamondbacks facility in Arizona this spring, and is excited to get back out on the field for games as soon as possible.

“Spring training was a lot of fun,” Yerzy said. “There were a lot of bodies just kind of flying around, but for the most part it’s pretty laid back and it was good to get outside and move away from indoor baseball…My goal for this season is to make it to a full-season team by the end of the season.”

The photo accompanying this piece originated on the @ClubhouseCorner Twitter page.

Former Mets catcher Yerzy honoured at Baseball Canada banquet

After Andrew Yerzy’s first season of professional baseball and his final tour with Team Canada, the former Toronto Mets catcher was recognized for his success in the red-and-white uniform in January, receiving the Junior National Team Most Valuable Player Award at Baseball Canada’s National Teams Awards Banquet and Fundraiser.

“It’s pretty unbelievable, just considering some of the past winners when you think about it,” Yerzy said of the honour. “[Josh] Naylor won it last year, Tyler O’Neill’s won it, I know Gareth [Morgan] has won it. So just being considered on the same level as those guys is pretty amazing. And [program infield coordinator for the Mets Hyung] Cho told me he won it in 1998, so I thought that was pretty funny.”

The 18-year-old backstop spent three years with the Canadian junior squad before he was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second round – 52nd overall – in June, signing for $1,214,100 during the inaugural Canadian Premier Baseball League season. Right after his selection and the signing process, the young catcher starting thinking about the Canadian players who had come before him, been chosen in high rounds of the draft, and who had received bonuses in the neighbourhood of his own.

“It’s pretty crazy to think about because I played with Naylor and I played with Gareth and I played with [Mike] Soroka,” Yerzy said last summer. “So to think that I’m even on the same level as those guys, knowing how good they are, is pretty crazy…I’ve watched them since I was young, so maybe the younger guys when they watch me, they’re thinking the same thing. But I definitely feel like I can compete at the pro level [and] I always wanted to get drafted and I always wanted to play pro baseball.”

Not long after his mid-summer signing, Yerzy joined the Diamondbacks organization and spent his first professional season between the rookie class Arizona League D-Backs and the advanced rookie league Missoula Osprey squad, ending the year on a strong note and heading home with plenty to work on before spring training. When he was presented with the Baseball Canada accolade, Yerzy had similar thoughts to that of last year.

“I’d like to consider myself on that level too,” he said. “It was big for me, because I played with all those guys growing up. When I was 15, I saw Gareth get drafted [in the second round], and when I was in 11th grade, I saw Soroka and Naylor [both taken in the first round]. So hopefully I set a good example for whoever is getting drafted this year and in 2018, so they can say, ‘I was on the same level as Yerzy,’ which would be pretty cool.”

Overjoyed to spend some time with his Baseball Canada family during the annual banquet and fundraiser, Yerzy not only got to catch up with his friends but he also received a little bit of an eye opener to just how much professional competition he had matched up against before becoming a pro himself.

“It’s irreplaceable, really,” Yerzy said of his Baseball Canada family. “I mean, I saw Mike [Soroka] for the first time in pretty much a year over the banquet weekend, and it’s like we saw each other last week. It was just really easy to pick up with those guys. They share the same interests as you, they’re playing pro baseball like you, and the development that Baseball Canada does is second to none.

“They talked about it at the banquet and I didn’t even realize it – I had over 100 professional games throughout my high school career. I didn’t really take it in until after they said it, and I thought yeah, that makes sense. I had three full years on the team, 10 games a trip, and four trips a year.”

Better prepared for what he was heading into in the professional realm because of his time with the Canadian Junior National Team and the Mets, even with that experience Yerzy still had to do some fine-tuning in order to get used to the everyday routine.

“Starting off in pro ball was like a Team Canada trip for two-and-a-half months instead of two weeks,” he said. “That was the biggest difference for me. I had seen that same stuff, but I wasn’t used to seeing it every day, night in and night out, for those two-plus months straight. I was used to seeing it for two weeks. So it was a bit of an adjustment period seeing it every day, but I’d like to say I adjusted well…

“It was definitely different. There’s no time off pretty much. You’re never going to see a bad arm in pro ball. You’re going to see at least 88-92 [mile per hour pitches] every single day, you’re going to see that coming out of the bullpen, you’re going to see it starting and when you do see someone who throws slower, they’re just going to carve. It’s kind of relentless, and that’s what pro ball is.”

Heading into his first full season of pro ball, Yerzy has spent much of his winter back at home in North York, with plenty of hours at Out of the Park Sports, the home of the Toronto Mets, where he is grateful to have the support of the staff and the program as he continues to try to get better.

“I’m at the Mets facility most days,” Yerzy said. “I’ll have days where I’ll just work out, and I’ll have days when I do baseball stuff, so it keeps me in there all the time. I’ve been working super hard…The Mets helped in giving me the place to train in the off-season, and being the supportive family they are. The coaches have helped me a lot. Without those guys, like [Mets instructors Chris] Kemlo, Greg Densem, Honsing [Leung], and other guys being there and being supportive 100 per cent of the time, coming in whenever I need them and giving me a lot of reps that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, I couldn’t do what I’ve been doing.”

Some of his time spent in familiar territory has become a new experience for the backstop. Without even knowing it he went from being an observer of the professional players who would spend their off-seasons around him to become the player everyone is watching.

“It’s pretty funny, because I used to do that when I was a kid too,” Yerzy said. “If, say [Colorado Rockies minor leaguer Maxx] Tissenbaum came home I would be watching him the entire time. And I’ll get maybe a crowd of five to 10 people standing around the cage while I hit now, just watching me. It’s funny. I helped out with a youth camp and apparently a bunch of the kids would talk about me hitting on their way home, so that was pretty cool. It makes me feel good, and hopefully I don’t let them down.”

Not letting anyone down with the progress he’s made, Yerzy couldn’t be more proud of the latest honour bestowed up on him, as he continues to find ways to feel like he fits in with the players who came before him.

“It’s surreal almost, considering that two years ago when I was 15 I thought I would have no shot at winning any of those awards,” Yerzy said. “Those guys were the greatest guys on the planet, in Canada at least, and just to be considered on the same level and to share that stage with them is an honour.”

Andrew Yerzy selected in second round of draft

Things are happening quickly for Andrew Yerzy.

The 17-year-old catcher for the Toronto Mets could hardly believe that his tour with the Canadian Junior National Team was coming to an end before his final trip to the Dominican Republic in May, and now, after the first day of Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft, the whirlwind has just begun.

Selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second round on Thursday night, 52nd overall, Yerzy is likely to make a decision on his future before the weekend. Committed to Notre Dame University, if the 6-foot-3, 200-pound backstop were going to forgo signing with the D’backs, he would be heading off to Indiana immediately, the school not requiring him to complete his final exams at York Mills Collegiate Institute before getting a jump on the upcoming school year.

“Right now I’m going to Notre Dame,” Yerzy said prior to the draft. “Hopefully if things go the way I’d like them to go, I’ll be in a pro uniform.”

Taken on the first night of the selection process – the second Canadian chosen after Stanford’s Cal Quantrill was taken eighth overall by the San Diego Padres – the only question left for Yerzy in determining whether or not things go according to plan is the amount of money on the table. If it matches what the young player has in mind, he could be at extended spring training in Arizona as soon as he graduates high school and obtains a work visa.

Watching his friends and former Team Canada teammates graduate the program ahead of him, make their choices, and venture off into the working world, Yerzy believes that he has an idea of what could potentially be in store for his future.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “I know [2015 first-round selections Josh] Naylor and [Mike] Soroka are the only guys in my three years who have gotten past rookie ball [both playing in the Class-A South Atlantic League] but it’s cool thinking that that could be me next year.

“And then you might have [15-year-old junior team member] Noah Naylor saying that he played with me three years ago and now I’m doing this. I think back to how much further they were ahead of me when I was in Grade 10, and now I’m in Grade 12 and they’re in Grade 10.”

While last year’s Canadian first-round picks have made early impressions on their respective organizations – Naylor with the Miami Marlins and Soroka with the Atlanta Braves – Yerzy understands that moving up the ranks of the professional realm can come at a much slower pace as well.

“It’s still pro baseball,” the catcher said. “And it’s only been two years since I’ve seen some of those guys, so they could easily be in the major leagues in two more years for all I know. It’s just a small sample size, and I’m ready to get after it, if the opportunity presents itself.”

Yerzy and Soroka have kept in touch since parting ways from the junior team, and though they hadn’t specifically spoken much before the draft about what might happen for the backstop, the right-hander had given his battery mate an idea of what he went through on the same night last year.

“I still talk to Soroka a lot,” Yerzy said. “We haven’t talked about draft day much but he said it’s awesome. You go into it and you want to have the right mindset. You go in thinking that you’re going to school and then if everything happens the way you want it to, then you might be pleasantly surprised with a two-million-dollar paycheque.”

Aging, maturing, and growing in multiple ways throughout his time with the national squad and his years with the Toronto Mets, Yerzy knows that he has come quite a distance in a relatively short time.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Yerzy said. “It’s been three years with Team Canada – a pretty short three years in my mind. I still remember my first at-bat of my first trip…I struck out on three pitches. I didn’t swing. Just thinking about it all, it’s happened really quickly. I’m thankful for all the opportunities they’ve given me, and the ability to represent my country 17 times.”

Not only has he gotten better and learned an immense amount, Yerzy believes that the game north of the border is improving all-around and will continue to do so with opportunities to showcase talent with the Junior National Team and the Canadian Premier Baseball League.

“Baseball in Canada’s definitely getting better,” he said. “No knocks on those guys but if you think back to my first year with Team Canada, we were getting blown out like 16-2 and averaging three hits a game.

“Now we’re winning games, tying games, playing multiple one-run losses. Even if we’re losing 4-3 to a bunch of pro guys and we’re 16 and 17-year-old kids, it shows that we’re heading in the right direction.”

Whether Yerzy decides to go pro out of high school with the Diamondbacks, or a start to a college education with the Fighting Irish next week, he’s learned what’s most important and is looking forward to what the future holds.

“The biggest thing I learned from Greg [Hamilton, Baseball Canada’s director of national teams] is to just have fun playing baseball really,” Yerzy said. “It’s going to be a job but you aren’t going to make it if you don’t have fun playing the game. You see a lot of guys burn out by Double-A just because they don’t enjoy doing it, so you have to have fun with the game.”