Blane Abeyta doesn’t know when he’ll be asked to report to Tampa Bay to begin his professional baseball career but he’ll be prepared when that time comes.
The 2017 Ceres High School grad gave family, friends, former coaches and teammates, and supporters a glimpse of what he’s been up to during the coronavirus pandemic this past week.
Abeyta shared a video of himself on social media dedicating time to his craft at the NorCal Valley Baseball facility and training at Bonsu Elite Athletics.
“I’ve been staying busy,” said Abeyta, a 6-foot-3 205-pound right-handed pitcher who signed with the New York Yankees as an undrafted free agent on June 20. “COVID isn’t going to stop me from being the best I can be.”
Abeyta will most likely suit up for the Gulf Coast League Tampa Tarpons, a Class-A affiliate of the Yankees, when he resumes his baseball career.
He was supposed to move to Florida this fall but the 2020 minor-league season was canceled due to COVID-19.
“The hardest part is not being able to play right now,” Abeyta said. “I want to showcase my abilities. But at the same time, God has given me this opportunity to get better, bigger and stronger.”
Abeyta has enjoyed the process of working towards becoming a better player.
“There is never a day I want to stop,” he said. “It’s always 100 percent every day. I’m improving on all the weaknesses I have. This is my job.”
.Abeyta’s throwing sessions are staged on Wednesdays at the NorCal Valley Baseball facility.
Omar Onate, Abeyta’s catcher at Modesto Junior College, provides assistance.
“I’m trying to perfect my mechanics,” he said. “I’m trying to work on explosiveness off the mound.”
Abeyta has been training six times a week, Monday through Saturday, at Bonsu Elite Athletics in Ceres.
The Yankees provided the workout plan.
Abeyta’s workout routine will look different moving forward because of COVID-19 restrictions imposed by state officials.
“I hate to see it but we got to trust their thoughts and minds and try to stay as safe as we possibly can,” he said. “I’m going to innovate some stuff at home so I can stay in shape and be ready to go when I get to Florida. I might build a squat rack and get some dumbbells.”
Abeyta has Zoom meetings with coaches and players from the Yankees organization every two weeks.
“I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “I’m working on the mental side and certain mechanics. I’m writing down how I feel after every time I throw. Baseball is not just physical. I never knew how important the mental side was until it was brought up. It’s really awesome.”
The Yankees expressed interest in signing Abeyta after scout Tyler Robertson watched him pitch multiple times with the latest outing being at Grace Davis Park in Modesto on June 19.
Terms weren’t disclosed but the most any undrafted player can sign for is $20,000.
“I’ve always dreamed of this (becoming a professional baseball player) since I was a kid,” Abeyta said. “The field is my place to go to clear my head. It’s my sanctuary.”
A standout all-league catcher in high school, Abeyta switched positions during his second season with the Modesto Junior College baseball program.
He was named to the Big-8 Conference First Team as a sophomore.
He compiled a 5-4 record with 60 strikeouts and one save in 651/3 innings.
Abeyta earned a baseball scholarship to NCAA Division-I University of Reno, Nevada.
He posted a 3.38 ERA with 12 strikeouts and two saves during his lone season with the Wolf Pack during the COVID-19 shortened campaign this past spring.
Abeyta earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors as a key member of Ceres High’s varsity baseball team in 2017.
He batted .404 from the plate with two homers, three doubles, 17 RBIs, 17 runs and four stolen bases for the second-place Bulldogs (12-3).
“I have family and friends that have sacrificed so much to help me get to where I am,” Abeyta said. “It means so much. I’m thankful to have them in my corner. I’ve been able to turn this into something we’ve all dreamed about.”