Understanding the importance of drafting and developing pitchers; the New York Yankees entered the 2014 draft with one focus, stockpiling quality arms. Selecting only pitchers with their top five picks, the organization is hoping they found a great group of prospects that can work their way up to the Bronx one day.
Jordan Foley was one of those talented young pitchers selected. Picked in the 5th round out of Central Michigan University, the righty was excited for an opportunity to pursue a professional career with an organization of the Yankee’s caliber.
“Being drafted by the New York Yankees was a dream come true,” said Foley. “Having an opportunity to play for an organization like the Yankees is a blessing.”
Signing his professional contract right away, Foley made a quick jump to the Yankee’s New-York Penn League affiliate on Staten Island, after throwing three scoreless innings in the GCL. Due to the continued effort of the Yankee’s developing pitchers, there was a lot of competition in the Staten Island rotation, so the club used a piggybacking system, which opened more opportunities to start games.
Another great benefit of the piggybacking system is that it gives pitchers an opportunity to work out of the bullpen. This aspect can be very beneficial when moving up the ladder, as many starters on the lower level teams’ work their way into the bullpen as they get closer to the big leagues.
Pitching 34 1/3 innings with the Staten Island Yankees; Foley went 0-2, with a 4.46 ERA and 37 strikeouts. Command was a little issue for Foley in his first professional season, as the Texas native walked 17 batters, an area he’ll be looking to improve on in 2015.
“Staten Island was a very cool place to spend the summer and play my first professional season. The skyline was right over our centerfield wall, so during the night games you got to see the city light up,” stated Foley. “As far as baseball goes, I thought it was a very good learning experience. It really helped me understand my game better and the things I need to improve on in the future.”
Prior to beginning his professional career, Foley spent three seasons at Central Michigan University. Going 15-11 with a 4.18 ERA and 196 strikeouts in 226 innings for the Chippewa’s, the righty featured a 7.81 K/9 ratio at the NCAA level.
“I loved my three years at CMU. I just wish we could have won a championship during my time there,” explained Foley. “I feel the coaching staff prepared me well for the transition to professional baseball.”
“I don’t think northern schools get a lot of recognition for baseball,” he added. “But I think CMU does a great job at getting guys ready for the next level, especially pitchers, if you look at the recent history of guys getting drafted out of their program.”
Finding continued success with his pitch repertoire, Foley features four pitches, which includes: a 4-seam fastball, a 2-seasm fastball, a slider, and a split changeup. Mixing these pitches helps Foley get ahead in counts, and keep hitters off-balanced. His ability showed in his first professional year, as Foley maintained a 9.79 K/9 ratio at the short season-A level.
Many young players find the transition from college baseball to professional challenging, as you play games every day instead of just weekends. But that’s not the case for Foley, who feels the routine is easier than dealing with all of the demands of playing both baseball and maintaining a full class schedule.
“At college you have class in the mornings, practice in the afternoons, and studying in the evenings. That’s a pretty big daily grind,” explained Foley. “In professional baseball all you have is baseball, so it was easier to just focus on my game rather than worrying about classes.”
With spring training right around the corner, Foley finds himself back at Central Michigan working hard on getting his body in the best shape possible for a great spring. Entering the process with an open mind will help the righty push through all the challenges that will be placed on his body in March.
“In the first couple of months after the season, I spent most of my time at home with family and friends. I would go to the gym and work out to stay in shape,” said Foley. “Now that we’re closer to the season, I’m back at CMU working out and throwing with a couple other guys playing professional baseball. We’re pushing each other to be at our best when we head down to spring training.”
Another aspect Foley is looking forward to this spring is the opportunity to potentially face an old teammate and friend in Blue Jays’ prospect Matt Dean. Both guys played baseball together at The Colony High School in Texas and now their professional teams will face off in the Grapefruit League.
“Playing baseball at The Colony was an absolute blast,” said Foley. “Coach Dean is a great baseball coach and he really prepared me well to play at a Division 1 school. Matt and I are really good friends. We talk often and we are excited about the opportunity to potentially face each other in spring training.”
Be sure to follow Jordan Foley as he takes the next step in his minor league career in 2015.