In the 35th round of the 2019 MLB Draft, the Yankees selected left-handed pitcher Nate Espelin out of Belmont High School in Belmont, MA.
Take us back to draft day. What was your reaction when you found out that the Yankees took you in the 35th round?
“That day I was actually just coming home from work and getting lunch with my best friend. We were both sitting there watching the draft picks come by. We weren’t thinking much about it, but then eventually we kind of thought “what if?” Eventually, I got a call from my high school coach who told me to stay tuned and watch a computer if I was there. At that point, I kind of had an idea because I know him, and a couple of the Yankees scouts have talked in the past. It was 20 minutes later so I was listening to it in the car and it was pretty cool to hear them say in the 35th round the Yankees drafted Nate Espelin.”
Who was your first call to once you found it?
“I talked to the Yankees scout Matt Hyde for a few minutes and while I was on the call my dad called me, so I had to call him back because I guess he saw the thing scroll across on the computer.”
Were the Yankees the only team to show interest in drafting you?
“Drafting yes, I got a couple of other calls, texts, or emails throughout the past few months, but the Yankees were the most serious about it.”
Tell us a bit about yourself. Give us a little self-scouting report: what pitches do you throw and how hard?
“I throw a fastball, a two-seamer with it. That usually helps me to get it outside on a righty. A curveball that is kind of big overhand, 12-6 pitch and a slider which is more a swing and a miss pitch. Occasionally I through a changeup in there to mix it up a bit more.”
Tell us more about your pitching style. Is there anyone in the major leagues that you would compare yourself to?
“I used to be more of a crafty pitcher from a younger age. But then I began to throw a little hard and my coaches told me I had to work the inside half a bit more and that would open of the plate. So, the past couple of years that inside fastball was a big pitch in my repertoire, especially in high school where you can kind of get away with it a bit more often. I used to be more of a strikeout pitcher, but I learned more about being more efficient and getting more ground balls instead of going after every batter and throwing every pitch I have which can tire you out. I kind of become a bit more of a dynamic pitcher of the last few years, learning to use everything a little more often I would have otherwise.”
What major leaguer would you compare yourself to?
“My summer coach used to compare me to Tom Glavine, but he was around a little bit before my time. But modern day, I would like to say David Price, I like him, and I like the way he throws.”
Growing up what was your favorite team?
“Growing up, the Red Sox were always my favorite team.”
So, this had to be kind of bittersweet being drafted by the Yankees?
“It’s funny, my family members had a few comments.”
Who was your favorite player growing?
“Aside from David Price, I liked Scott Kazmir a lot. He didn’t use to throw too hard and that was something I liked to see because I never really blew it by people too much.”
Do you have one moment in your baseball career that really stands out for you?
“I actually wrote about this for school a few weeks ago. In Massachusetts for playoffs there is the typical Division 1, 2, 3, 4 system that is based on school system and the playoffs would take place within those but there is also something called the Super 8 which is the top eight teams in the state, it doesn’t matter which division or school size or anything like that. So, the top eight teams would compete in a double elimination tournament, just like the college world series, with 9 inning games instead of seven innings which is what we usually play.
My junior year at Belmont, so 2017, we got selected for that because we were 17-3 over the course of the spring. I remember I was at a graduation party with a bunch of the kids on the team, we were all huddled up and started watching and saw our name get picked as the eighth and final seed to play the top team in the state. It was kind of a cool moment because we were all there together and we were like what just happened. We all got extremely excited.”
You are committed to playing baseball at the University of Dayton, but have you decided whether to honor that commitment or sign with the Yankees?
“I have not fully decided on that yet. But as of right now I am leaning towards attending college and honoring my commitment to play at Dayton.”
We would like to thank Nate for doing the interview and wish him the best.