Following a collegiate career that led to a massive jump up the draft board, Hayden Wesneski has continued his rise as a top-flight Yankees prospect.
A 33rd-round pick out of high school by Tampa Bay in the 2016 MLB Draft, the Cypress, Texas native opted to pitch for Sam Houston State before being selected by the Yankees in the sixth round three years later.
Fast-forward to 2022 and Wesneski, a 6-3, 210-pound righthanded starter for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, is ranked as the No. 7 overall prospect in the organization, according to MLB.com. In terms of pitchers, only lefty Ken Waldichuk sits above him at No. 5.
With a repertoire that includes a four-seam fastball reaching upwards of 98 mph, a two-seamer in the low 90s and a shifty sinker, slider and changeup as well, the 24-year-old said he’s made strides in consistently throwing his slider for strikes and improving his two-seamer this season.
Given his growth since 2016, Wesneski now looks back on his draft selection out of high school with a different perspective.
“I don’t think I should’ve gotten drafted in the 33rd round as a high schooler,” Wesneski told Newsday on Wednesday. “I don’t know what the Rays saw in me. I appreciate what they did and I’m glad for it because it set me up for the spot I’m in now.”
In a winning effort during his most recent outing on Thursday, Wesneski allowed no runs on three hits and struck out six over six innings. He improved to 5-7 with a 3.51 ERA, 1.146 WHIP and 76 strikeouts and 27 walks over 82 innings.
Wesneski said he hasn’t spent too much time reflecting on his ascent through the Yankees’ system, as he’s “too close to the picture to look back on it.”
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Wesneski said. “You kind of get lost in this everyday thing. I just hope that 10-plus years from now that I’m looking back on my baseball journey and I can be proud of it.”
Wesneski said an opportunity to possibly pitch for the Yankees someday would come with an extraordinary sense of gratitude.
“I would love it,” Wesneski said. “It would mean a lot with all the work that we’ve put in, me and my family. People have made a lot of sacrifices for me and it would mean a lot to them as well.
“To be a Yankee, a kid from Houston would never appreciate it a few years ago. But I’m very glad that the Yankees picked me because they’ve made me a lot better and I think we have the same alignment as far as goals.”