Blane Abeyta joined rare company on June 20 when he became just the second Ceres High School grad in the past 18 years to ink a contract with a Major League Baseball organization.
The 6-foot-3 195-pound pitcher will have to put his pro career on hold as the 2020 Minor League Baseball season was canceled on June 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Abeyta was supposed to report to Florida to play for the Gulf Coast League Tampa Tarpons, a Class-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
“It sucks but at the same time I get to work on my craft more,” Abeyta said. “The biggest thing for me right now is I can’t get lazy. I can’t stop what I’m doing here. I got to keep grinding. My mentality hasn’t changed. I’m staying prepared.”
When Abeyta is not busy training at Bonsu Elite Athletics, he plays catch with Pitman grad Omar Onate.
“He was my catcher at Modesto Junior College,” Abeyta said. “We meet four to five times a week. He built a bullpen in his backyard.”
The Yankees signed Abeyta after scout Tyler Robertson watched him throw 30 pitches on June 19 in Modesto.
Terms weren’t disclosed but the most any undrafted player can sign for is $20,000.
“I’m living a dream right now,” Abeyta said. “Honestly, it doesn’t feel real. My grandpa (Gilbert) would definitely be happy. He’s the one I’m playing the game for. I have the day he passed away on my glove in Roman numerals. I know he’s watching down.”
A standout all-league catcher at Ceres High, 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.
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.
Abeyta posted a 3.38 ERA with 12 strikeouts and two saves during his lone season with University of Reno, Nevada this past spring.
“I’m trying to show it doesn’t matter where you go to school,” he said. “If you work your butt off, you can make a name for yourself.”