The New York Yankees selected Hayden Sharp out of high school with their 18th round draft pick in 2011. He hails from Oklahoma and was a three sport athlete in high school.
Now you will all get to meet him through the wonderful social network known as Twitter. Just to clarify, a Twitterview is an interview on Twitter. Not sure if that term has been coined already, but if not, I now own the copyright.
This particular Twitterview was done through direct messages, and both sides were limited by how much space is allowed in each message. Regardless, I got a chance to get in quite a few questions and get a feel for where Hayden is headed, and what kind of person he is. In this interview, he wasn’t a man of many words, but was able to succinctly get his point across within the limitations of twitter. He was really cooperative and helpful, and even put a picture up on twitter specifically for the article!
BBD: Hayden, I’m getting started with Bronx Baseball Daily and I was hoping to get an interview with you. You’d just have to answer a few questions.
Sharp: Ask away
BBD: Awesome. People are gonna love this. What was your initial reaction when you got the phone call that said you were drafted by the Yankees?
Sharp: I was extremely excited! I knew that all my hard work had finally paid off.
BBD: What made you decide to sign with the Yankees?
Sharp: The opportunity was something I just couldn’t pass up. I never thought I would get to be a professional baseball player.
BBD: What kinds of things did the coaches have you working on at instructs and has that helped you in the offseason and during spring training?
Sharp: Just staying balanced and working on the location of my pitches…
BBD: What player do you look up to most in the mlb and why?
Hayden: I don’t really have a single player I look up to. I just like to think that if I work as hard as they did i can be in that position one day.
BBD: What is your focus this season?
Hayden: I just want to pitch the best I can and get better on every outing I have. As long as I improve everyday I’ll be happy
BBD: What is your biggest strength as a player?
Hayden: I think my strength right now is being able to learn in a short amount of time. I feel like I’ve gotten so much better since I was drafted.
BBD: They tell you where you’ll start yet? GCL or Staten Island?
Hayden: I’ll definitely start in the GCL. I’m going to do my best to be in Staten Island by the end of the year.
BBD: Okay last one, make it good! What pitches do you throw? Which is your best, Which needs the most work?
Hayden: I throw a change slider and fastball. The slider is my best pitch and the change needs the most work. I need to work it down in the zone, and also stay consistent with my arm slot.
At 6’6 200 lbs, 19-year-old Sharp has a perfect body for pitching. Before May of 2011 Sharp didn’t even know he had a chance to be drafted. The video above is from an Under Armour Baseball Factory event in September 2010. As you can see he was throwing 85-88 in that workout. Then, all of a sudden, a scout’s radar gun clocked him about 10 mph higher in May 2011. He then possessed a 96-97 mph fastball, and all the scouts came a knockin’. Lo behold, Sharp was drafted in the 18th round of the MLB draft by the Yankees, and given a summer follow. After the summer follow, the Yankees went ahead and signed him.
Sharp is an athletic kid, as he was a three sport athlete in high school. He was planning on playing QB in college in addition to baseball before his sudden velo increase. He’s considered a relatively raw prospect, as professional baseball wasn’t on his radar until late in the game, but he’s got an extremely high ceiling.
He pitched all summer, working on his mechanics and trying to get his control where it needs to be. At instructs he was able to average low-mid 90’s while exhibiting much more control. He also worked on a slider at instructs. Now throwing three pitches, a fastball, slider, and changeup, he will test his stuff out in the GCL, and if he performs well there then he’ll end up at Staten Island. The changeup is traditionally a very difficult pitch to master, but if he can harness the fastball slider combo this year, while maintaining his mechanics and continuing to improve his control, he could be in for a big year.
Before being drafted, Sharp could not have focused on baseball, as he was busy playing football and basketball during the other sports seasons. Now that he can focus on baseball, it’s safe to say there will be a rapid improvement. The athleticism he must have from playing QB and basketball will help matters even more. At 6’6, some players will struggle with repeating their delivery. I think with time, this will not be an issue for Sharp due to his athleticism.
The velocity was down a bit this summer, but at his age, and with better mechanics, there is no reason it won’t come back up. For the record, 92-94 mph is nothing to scoff at coming from a 19 year old. The velocity should come up for a multitude of reasons. First being the fact that the new arm motion will at some point become second nature to him, and secondly because he’s athletic, and will no doubt gain strength over the years.
It is too early to make any kind of projection, but Sharp will begin his career as a starting pitcher. Depending on the development of his secondary pitches, including the slider and the changeup, he could either remain a starter or he could end up in the bullpen. If the slider is truly his best pitch as he believes it is, then he’s already got a great secondary offering to work with.
Wherever he ends up, Sharp has a ton of potential and I wouldn’t bet against him. With a big season, he could quickly make it into the Yankees top 15-20 prospects. His ceiling is that of a front end starter, although it’s important to be realistic in our expectations of such a young and raw player.
Sharp is one of six high school drafted pitchers this year, the first time in a long time the Yankees have drafted this many. Jordan Cote (3rd round), Rookie Davis (14th round), Daniel Camarena (20th round), Chaz Hebert (27th round), and Joey Maher (38th round) will all join Sharp in the lower minors this year. It will be interesting to watch them all come up together, and to see how they all develop as time goes by.
Special thanks to Hayden for granting me my very first player interview, and as I told him, he will have one blogger rooting for him in a big way this season.