2018 Is a Make or Break Year for Outfielder Mike Yastrzemski

It was not long ago that people were talking about outfielder Mike Yastrzemski being the replacement for Nick Markakis when he departed via free agency, but a couple injuries and the lack of offensive production, we have not seen him in the big leagues.

Yastrzemski with Trey Mancini in 2016
Photo: Patrick Cavey




Yastrzemski, 27, is the grandson of the great Carl Yastrzemski and was drafted by the Orioles in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Vanderbilt University.

Outside of his family lineage, Yaz was a typical 14th round pick, that is until his first full year in the organization (2014) where he fast tracked all the way to AA Bowie by the end of the season. He did so by hitting .306 in 63 games with the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds, then hitting .312 in 23 games with the High-A Frederick after a promotion, and then played his last 43 games of 2014 with the Baysox where he hit .250.

That kind of performance fueled the prospect fire, and of course came right before Markakis left via free agency in the offseason following 2014. I personally heard O's VP/GM Dan Duquette reference Yastrzemski at FanFest prior to the 2015 season when a fan asked about Markakis' replacement, and he mentioned Yaz as a future possible replacement.

Unfortunately, 2015 did not go as planned. He hit .246 in 128 games with Bowie and stayed in Bowie all year. He did show extra-base power by hitting 30 doubles, six triples and six homers. He also posted a .316 OBP.

Finally getting to AAA in 2016, he struggled in Norfolk hitting .221 over 94 games with the Tides, though he still posted a .312 OBP.

Last season, once he was ready for game action, he started the year with the Tides where he struggled to a .228 average with just 11 extra-base hits over 40 games. That prompted the Orioles to demote Yastrzemski to Bowie.

To his credit, Yastrzemski did not let that defeat him, and he proceeded to hit .386 with six doubles, one triple, six homers and scored 20 runs in 20 games with the Baysox. That showed what kind of grit he has to be able to perform that way after a demotion. That is normally a situation where a player either lets doubt creep in, or decide to prove people wrong.

Baltimore promoted Yaz back to AAA after his performance in Bowie, and he did look better once returning to Norfolk. He hit .250 with eight doubles, three triples, five homers, and owned a .327 OBP over 162 plate appearances after returning to the Tides.

This year is a make or break year for Yaz. He is 27 now, will begin the year in AAA, and I believe will be a minor league free agent at the end of the year (given he doesn't get added to the 40-man roster). Depending on how the Orioles' season goes, and possible trades and such, the second half of the MLB season could see the O's trying out some young players and if Yastrzemski can finally put it all together, he could possibly get that chance.

                                                                                                                                                       


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Comments

  1. Maybe it's my virtually lifelong connection with his Grandfather but I want to see Mike Yaz make it to the big leagues and do well. Mike's Grandfather gave me a gift in 1965, his 79th career home run ball which I eventually had signed by the '67 Red Sox team and is now enshrined in t he Yaz exhibit in Cooperstown. I've followed Mike's career from a distance and I see a similar determination that Carl Yaz had in the young man. Here's hoping that he gets his chance and makes good on it!

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  2. They totally should have Mike play some games at the big league level this September!!

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