Blane Abeyta moved to Florida in March to begin his professional baseball career with the New York Yankees organization.
The 2017 Ceres High School grad accomplished a first on Sept. 6 when he was named Southeast League Pitcher of the Week.
“There are a lot of great pitchers out there,” said Abeyta, a key contributor with the Low-A Tampa Tarpons. “To be recognized as one is truly amazing. I’m very thankful for the honor. It’s a milestone.”
“This is just a start,” he added. “Being in the big leagues and making it a career is the top.”
“I’m so proud of him,” said Zeb Brayton, who coached Abeyta for two seasons at Modesto Junior College. “It’s a pretty great story.”
Abeyta was rewarded for turning in a dominant performance on Sept. 3.
The right-hander tallied a career-high nine strikeouts during Tampa’s 4-0 win over Bradenton at LECOM Park.
Abeyta allowed no runs and just one hit in six innings.
“I’ve definitely surprised myself with some of the work I’ve done lately,” Abeyta said. “I’m getting pretty consistent with strikeouts. I understand the game more. There are different strategies. There are advanced hitter reports.”
Abeyta (5-3) has totaled 59 strikeouts in 461/3 innings of work with the Tarpons. He’s started seven times and made 14 appearances.
“My mentality has changed. This is my job. I take it very serious. If you want to get to the next level, you have to put in the work. It’s definitely a lot different than college.”Blane Abeyta
“My mentality has changed,” Abeyta said. “This is my job. I take it very serious. If you want to get to the next level, you have to put in the work. It’s definitely a lot different than college.”
Abeyta inked a contract with the New York Yankees as an undrafted free-agent in June of 2020.
Terms weren’t disclosed but the most any undrafted player can sign for is $20,000.
“The way he got signed was unconventional,” Brayton said. “He’s just determined to succeed. He’s competitive.”
The Yankees expressed interest in signing Abeyta after Tyler Robertson watched him pitch at Davis Park in Modesto.
Robertson also scouted Abeyta when he played for Nevada and Modesto Junior College.
“I’m having a blast right now,” Abeyta said. “I’m thankful the Yankees took a chance on me. Everyone in this world knows my grandpa (Gilbert) set this journey for me.”
A standout all-league catcher in high school, Abeyta switched positions towards the end of his first season with the Modesto Junior College baseball program.
He was named to the Big-8 Conference First Team as a sophomore.
Abeyta compiled a 5-4 record with 60 strikeouts and one save in 651/3 innings.
He led all Modesto JC pitchers in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched.
“I recruited him pretty heavily for catcher when he was in high school,” Brayton said. “Sophomore year (in college), he started out as a closer. We turned him into a starter in league. He never came out of the rotation. God blessed him with a tremendous arm. Everyone could see it. He also understands how to use his body and he’s super athletic. He’s going to keep getting better and better.”
Abeyta earned a baseball scholarship to Division-I Nevada.
He posted a 3.38 ERA with 12 strikeouts and two saves during his lone season with the Wolf Pack.
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).
“The arm talent was always there,” Bulldogs’ head coach Clinton Goblirsch said. “Working on his mechanics and developing his pitches has been able to get him to where he’s at. It’s impressive. I’m happy for him. I’m proud of him.”
“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.”
“I would not be surprised if he’s in Triple-A in two years,” Brayton said. “He’s so new to this. His arm is fresh. He’s athletic. Nothing rattles him. He’s battle-tested. He has the stuff. Those are the guys that make it. They have that natural talent.”