Like any youngster playing baseball, Tyler Yankosky’s goal was always to be drafted. Last June, that dream became a reality for Yankosky when the Washington Nationals drafted the former MU pitcher. He was pretty stocked to be playing professional baseball. However, to understand his journey we need to go way back to when he first started at Millersville.
Yankosky played three years at Millersville and what sold him to come here was head coach Jon Shehan.
“Coach Shehan really sold the program he runs there, plus the atmosphere there sold it. It’s a winning program there and coach Shehan does a good job developing players,” Yankosky says.
Shehan’s success as a coach here at Millersville rubs off on his players and that can certainly be seen with Yankosky. With a winning culture at Millersville it was a no brainer for him to come here.
After arriving Yankosky continued to improve. His ERA got better throughout his three years and he made a jump from a starter to the bullpen. But he claims that change has nothing to do with why he improved.
“A little but not, I put in a lot of hard work in that offseason that year so if I was a starter or in the bullpen, I was going to have a good year either way,” Yankosky says.
Shehan’s decision to move him to the bullpen was based on helping out Yankosky personally.
“Shehan just thought that it would help me personally and the team so we couldn’t go wrong by trying it at least.” Yankosky says.
Yankosky attributes his success to all the hard work he put in over the offseason. Training in the fall is, surprisingly, a lot more intense than the spring. Since the team is not playing games in the fall, Shehan works hard to make sure his guys are training at a top level.
“Spring is a little more laid back than the fall so in the fall we have 5:30 or 6 a.m. o’clock lifts and then we’d go home and get ready for class. Come back out later about two or three o’clock in the afternoon and go practice for a couple of hours and we would intersquad on the weekends,” Yankosky says.
The rigorous program at MU did a lot to prepare Yankosky for training in professional baseball.
“Pretty similar, coach Shehan runs his team like a professional ball club. I didn’t realize it till I got drafted but once I did and realized the professional style of baseball, coach Shehan runs his program similar,” Yankosky says.
All the training paid off for Yankosky and when the Washington Nationals came to see him pitch.
“They came to see me throw twice. But I didn’t have any contact with them until about ten minutes before they picked me,” Yankosky says.
He got the call 10 minutes before the Nationals picked him and he was soon off to play professional baseball. Yankosky went down to Florida to the Nats Spring Training complex to be evaluated and figure out what he needed to work on to play baseball at the professional level.
“I went down to where they send all the new drafted guys to get a physical and everything. They’ll make you stay down there for two to three weeks to get used to everything and they’ll take some notes on you to figure out what you need to work on,” Yankosky says.
Before heading up to the big leagues, Yankosky was sent to short season Single-A. He enjoyed playing there this past season.
“It was cool, it was something you always dream about playing in front of a couple thousand fans on some nights, so it was really neat,” Yankosky says.
Many adjustments had to come with the transition from college ball to Single-A. This is pro ball. The hitters are stronger, and the umpires strike zone is different.
“Umpires strike zones get a lot tighter, overall the players are a lot better. You don’t get a lot of guys swinging at a lot of bad pitches anymore so you really have to concentrate on making quality pitches on every single pitch,” Yankosky says.
Yankosky knew he had to execute pitches. No more leaving a hanging curveball and getting away with it. It was a different kind of pitching now for him.
“At Millersville you’d get away sometimes with if your 0-2 all you want to do is bounce the breaking ball in the dirt, when I got off the short season, I realized it was not that easy anymore. If it came out that low guys would just start taking it for a ball. You want to make sure it hits the dirt after the plate,” Yankosky says.
Though Yankosky was now in professional baseball and a dream come true for him, he recalls that being drafted wasn’t even really a thought through high school. It wasn’t until he got to Millersville that this became a possibility.
“I always wanted to be drafted out of high school, but it really wasn’t a possibility. Even my freshmen year at Millersville it didn’t really ring a bell, but during my sophomore year I gained a little bit of velocity and it got better and after that year coach Shehan was like you have a shot to be drafted if you work hard. And that’s what really motived me,” Yankosky says.
Gaining some velocity in his sophomore year at MU, Yankosky then was able to really work toward getting noticed and it did pay off in the long run.
Being drafted is a dream every young baseball player has from T-Ball through college. For Tyler Yankosky the dream became a reality and he couldn’t be more excited to live out his dream as a professional baseball player.