New York Yankees right-handed pitching prospect Glenn Otto spent most of his life in Houston, but that wasn’t how he had it planned out.
Otto didn’t receive a lot of attention from division one colleges and had settled to go to junior college at LSU – Eunice with an eye of transferring to a bigger school. That’s when fate stepped in. “I was committed to LSU – Eunice before that. I was looking to possibly go there and move up to LSU, maybe some other SEC school. I wasn’t really sure; I had no idea. I was committed to a junior college, and I was going to let that play out and then last minute, my senior year things kind of came together and things clicked, and Rice offered and I took the offer. I didn’t commit to Rice until May or June of my senior year of high school, so it all worked out,” Otto said.
Staying home ended up being a blessing for Otto. He ended up being a star reliever for the Owls and ended up on the Golden Spikes Award watch list before his junior year. The Golden Spikes award is the college baseball equivalent to the Heisman Trophy for college football. “I was obviously very pleased and just trying to see that and recognize it for what it is, but at the same time that I had to focus on what I need to do and realized I still had a long way to go to where I wanted to be. I feel like I can be successful but I still got some things I need to work on, develop in,” Otto said of being named to the watch list. “Coming in, I had a very good opportunity to play baseball at Rice University and be a reliever. I enjoyed it a lot and Coach (Wayne) Graham gave me plenty of opportunities to pitch,” Otto said.
His junior season at Rice was hampered by an injury to his right forearm, which he is fully healed from, but that didn’t stop the Yankees from drafting him in the fifth round of the 2017 June Amateur Draft. “The draft process is so unpredictable, you hear from teams, and you don’t hear from them the last day when you expect to hear from them. It all happens so fast, and you’re hearing names come off the board and waiting for teams to call you. I was obviously very pleased when the Yankees gave me a call and decided it would be an honor for me to represent such a great organization.”
He was watching the news with his father on a laptop when his name was called. “He had his laptop open, and we were streaming it live. We heard my name and got the call, and we were both very excited. Obviously, the New York Yankees draft, it’s a great honor and a great opportunity. As far as the last, senior season at Rice goes, it was tough to make that decision, but professional baseball has always been a big goal, it’s always been a dream of mine. It’s something that I’ve always looked forward to doing. When I realized when I could potentially play professional baseball, that’s taken over. When it came down to it, it was a pretty easy decision,” Otto said.
The Yankees assigned Otto to the Gulf Coast League initially and quickly moved up to the short-season A Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League where he posted a 3-0 record in seven games and a 1.59 ERA. In 17 innings pitched, he struck out 25 and only allowed 12 hits. “I went to college about 30 minutes from my hometown. It was different. It was nice being up in New York. My first time going to Manhattan and seeing everything that’s up there. I’m used to my wide open spaces down in Houston. Getting up there and seeing everything crammed up. So many people in that little area is very interesting. Took some getting used to. Took the subway, have some great subway stories! I really enjoyed my time up in Staten Island,” Otto said of the change in scenery.
That success earned him a promotion to the Charleston RiverDogs of the Low A South Atlantic League for the 2018 season. The Yankees are moving Otto from reliever to starter this season and he has prepared for the challenge ahead. “I’m going to have more of a workload than I ever had in my life. I had a lot of seasons where I had a lot of innings out of the bullpen, but this is going to be the most innings I’ve ever had in a season. While being a starter gives me the opportunity to have a routine. That was one of my biggest things was getting that routine in place,” Otto said. “I feel very comfortable with the routine. I will start, then I will work out, run, lift, bullpen, all the things that I go through to get my body ready for that next outing.”
RiverDogs pitching coach Justin Pope agrees that Otto’s success will come once he gets his routine down. Pope talked about Otto’s pitching arsenal and the importance of getting settled into a routine. “Start with his curveball which he can spin his curveball. It’s sharp, late break, bite. A lot of bite to it. Swing and miss pitch. And his fastball, he’s got some nice attributes to his fastball. He’s able to pitch up in the zone when he wants, but he can also locate the ball down. He’s going to be another interesting one to watch. Especially when he starts getting into a rhythm, a nice routine because he’s never really started before, so it’s going to be kind of new to him. But once he kind of figures out what he needs to do between starts to be ready for a start, I think he’s going to take off,” Pope said.
Otto has only worked with Pope for a short time, and they’re already clicking on the same page. “Popey’s a great guy. I love talking to him. He’s real personable. I feel like I can go to him with anything and he’s going to help me get through it and give me the best instruction to get me to figure out and get through it. I’m very excited to work with him for a full season. We got a great pitching staff here, and he’s going to lead it well,” Otto said of Pope.
The most significant thing Otto has worked on with Pope has been consistently throwing his fastball and curveball and getting ahead of hitters so he can drop his plus curveball. “During spring training I was working on fastball command and changeup. Just throwing my changeup consistently, getting out over the top of it. Just driving both of those pitches down. Making them a lot more effective,” Otto said. “I try to get ahead with my fastball, command that, establish that early. It’s going to be important for me starting so I can go to the changeup and the curveball. If I can get ahead with my changeup and fastball, I can put a lot of hitters away with my curveball.”
With the likes of Otto, Garrett Whitlock, Nick Nelson, and Daniel Ramos just to name a few, the RiverDogs should make another run at a playoff berth. Otto has had plenty of postseason experience between his time with the Rice Owls and last year with Staten Island. “NCAA Regionals was a lot of fun. Playoffs in Staten Island were a lot of fun. Hopefully, playoffs here with the Charleston RiverDogs will be a lot of fun.”