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.