Greg Weissert used to be the guy with the beard. Then he was drafted by the Yankees.
When the 22-year-old pitcher from Bay Shore was selected in the 18th round of the 2016 draft, he knew what was coming. Organization rules required him to shave, but that was a small price to pay for the 6-2 righthander.
“I don’t mind not having a beard, either,” he said Tuesday at Staten Island’s Richmond County Bank Ballpark.
Weissert relishes the opportunity to pitch in front of his family and friends on a regular basis after playing most of his games in the South last season.
He has been lights-out as a reliever for the Class A Staten Island Yankees. Through five appearances and 6 2⁄3 innings, he had recorded three saves, struck out 10 and allowed no runs, two hits and two walks.
Weissert pitched two scoreless innings Friday to pick up his third save in Staten Island’s 4-3 win over the Brooklyn Cyclones.
“I’ve been feeling really good,” he said, “just sticking to the game plan, getting ahead and using my off-speed later in the count and sometimes to get ahead.”
Staten Island pitching coach Travis Phelps said Weissert has commanded his fastball and kept his curveball low in the zone.
“When you do that regularly and consistently, you’re going to have a lot of success,” Phelps said. “That’s at all levels from here all the way to the major leagues, and he is showing the ability to be able to do that.”
In the same way Weissert was easygoing about shaving his beard, he has brought a relaxed approach to Staten Island after playing his first minor-league season in the South Atlantic and Appalachian leagues.
Once he signed out of Fordham University, the Yankees sent the reliever to rookie ball in Pulaski, Virginia, and then Class A Charleston, South Carolina.
But when Weissert returned to New York this summer, his personality immediately grabbed Phelps’ attention.
“He’s more laid-back, and that’s not a bad thing,” Phelps said. “Usually guys that are laid-back are usually pretty easygoing into the games. He’s the opposite. He’s laid-back and then he’s ultra-intense whenever it comes to game time. To me, that personality is different from what you see from a lot of other guys.”
That and a professional support staff have helped Weissert through the ups and downs that minor-leaguers endure. After he posted 6 1⁄3 scoreless innings in five outings for Pulaski, the Yankees sent him to Charleston last summer — and Weissert struggled, allowing 14 hits and six earned runs in 12 2⁄3 innings with 10 walks and 16 strikeouts.
“It’s really easy to listen because you can have a lot of trust and faith in these guys because they all know their stuff,” Weissert said. “It’s nice having so many people to turn to if you’re struggling or having trouble with mechanics or your mental game or your approach to the hitters. It’s really nice having all these guys to help out.”
The goal, of course, is to continue on his professional journey. And while Weissert has enjoyed every stop, this one is a bit more special.
“It’s nice to get back up north,” Weissert said. “It’s really cool being close to home. My parents get to come to a lot of the games. It’s definitely nice.”
RHP, Staten Island Yankees
Born: Feb. 4, 1995, in Bay Shore (age 22)
High school: Bay Shore
Drafted: 2016 by Yankees, 18th round
2016: Charleston River Dogs, Pulaski Yankees
2017: Staten Island Yankees
2017 stats (through July 7): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, three saves, 10 strikeouts, two walks, two hits, no runs in 6.2 innings.