When you first see Steven Sensley, his size instantly strikes you. Sensley stands 6’1” and weighs 220 lbs. In fact, he looks like he should be playing football instead of baseball.
That’s precisely the decision he had to make coming out of high school. “I just fell in love with the game (of baseball) when I hit my first home run at nine. I was back and forth between the two sports all the way up until 12th grade, that’s when I had to make my decision whether I was going to play baseball or football. I just made what I want to say was the smart decision. I like both. I love baseball and I know the wear and tear football can have on the body and that’s why I chose baseball,” Sensley said of his decision.
He also had another big decision to make coming out of high school. Should he go play college baseball or should he go start his professional career with the Minnesota Twins, who drafted him in the 33rd round of the 2013 draft?
For Sensley, the decision wasn’t too hard. “I felt I wanted to sign actually, but I felt I was a better player than what they were offering, so I decided to go to college instead.”
Sensley had pretty much made up his mind to go play junior college baseball at LSU-Eunice. “I had D-1 offers. I wanted to go to LSU-Eunice for maybe one or two years and then sign and start my professional career, but it didn’t work out that way. Playing in the major leagues was always my dream and I wanted to get going on that right way. I think going to college was the best decision for me.”
After finishing two years in junior college, Sensley was again drafted, this time by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 12th round of the 2015 draft, but his decision boiled down to the same reason. “The same thing as high school. I had put up some good numbers there and I felt that I was a better than what they were offering and I wanted to go play at Louisiana-Lafayette, so I felt it was a win-win. Either I was going go play pro ball or I was going to Louisiana-Lafayette. Either-or, I was going to be happy.”
Sensley played two years with the Ragin’ Cajuns where he excelled. During his junior season, Sensley led the team in six offensive categories. This time, he was drafted a third time by the New York Yankees. And once again, he was drafted in the 12th round. This time though, it was different for Sensley. “You know, it’s the Yankees. I think there couldn’t be a better fit for me and I felt I’m 21going on 22, it was time to get the ball going and go ahead and get my start my professional career. I didn’t want to wait any longer,” Sensley explained. “They had called me after day two and told me that I was number two on the board for them. I woke up the next morning. I turned on the draft tracker and I was just listening and I kind of knew. They had told me some news, but even then, it was still a surprise to hear my name called.”
The Yankees assigned him to the Gulf Coast League, but quickly moved him to Rookie level Pulaski after two games. At Pulaski, Sensley scorched a .316/.402/.673 slash line with nine home runs and eight doubles and driving in 23 runs in 27 games. That earned him another quick promotion to Low-A Charleston. In his 21 games in Charleston, he’s hit four more home runs, five more doubles while slashing .259/.370/.584. Despite his early success, Sensley’s transition from college to pro baseball and his success hasn’t been easy. “The biggest adjustment for me is the everyday grind. It’s literally everyday you gotta come out, go to the field. You hit basically all day. In college, you have breaks. We play a 56 game schedule plus post-season, but we have breaks between those games. Here, it’s everyday. You get an off day every now and again. I think it’s still the same game. I just got to settle in here, find myself. Stay within myself, not try to do too much. I think that’s part of the reason why I had success in Pulaski. I stay within myself and not prove myself to anyone. If I let the game come to me, I’ll have success.”
As for his power, Sensley doesn’t force it. He makes good contact and his natural strength takes over. “The only thing I focus on with my swing is staying inside the baseball. Sometimes I tend to get around it a little bit. Other than that, I think my swing is fine, it’s just mentally and my approach at the plate, being patient and getting that pitch to hit,” Sensley said. “I attribute my power to being patient and I think I have to work on that here. The first couple of games I’ve been trying to make something happen instead of being patient and let my pitch come to me. I have to be patient, get my pitch to hit then drive that pitch.”
Sensley has been a solid outfielder. He shows good range as a corner outfielder and a strong throwing arm. “Right now I’m working on reaction. Reacting to the ball off the bat. I think I can get better at that. I think my strength in the outfield is my arm strength. I think I can make some good throws, get some guys out, help my team.”
One of the biggest adjustments for Sensley has been going from playing college to pro without much of break. “It’s tough. You just gotta grind. I have soreness all over my body right now. I mean that comes with the game. It’s just maintaining your body, doing what you need to do to stay on the field and just going out there and play. The game of baseball, it’s not as physical as something like football. You have your soreness, but you can play through that.”
Sensley has not only caught the attention of the fans in Charleston and Pulaski, but he’s impressed his manager, Patrick Osborn. “He’s been really, really impressive for a kid who’s just been drafted. This kid is a heck of a ballplayer with a bright future. I’m lucky we snagged him in the twelth round,” Osborn said.
Looking back at the decisions he’s made, Sensley’s satisfied with the decision he made to go to school and not jump on the first offer from the Twins. “I think it was a good decision for me to go spend the four years I did in college. I think it helped me mature a lot to get to this point. I’m still learning, but I think if I would have signed out of high school or signed out of JUCO, I don’t think I would have been ready to play ball. I think the four years I spent in college really helped me a lot,” Sensley said.
“In college, I had to go to school obviously. The difference between college and pro ball is that I had to go to school and I didn’t get paid. Now, I’m being paid to do something I love and I don’t have to go to school right now.”