The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

July 23, 2013

It's all baseball for Drew Bridges

Drew Bridges has quickly taken a liking to the world of professional baseball.

“It’s been a blast,” Bridges said in a telephone interview from Florida. “I wake up every morning, and it’s all baseball. It’s baseball every day, and I don’t have to worry about school work or anything else.”

The Carthage High School graduate was selected by the New York Yankees in the 20th round of the major league draft in June. Earlier this month, the 18-year-old signed with the Yankees organization and played his first professional game in the Rookie Gulf Coast League on July 20 in Tampa, Fla.

In that game for the GCL Yankees2, Bridges recorded his first professional hit, first extra-base hit, first RBI and first game-winner all in one fell swoop. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, he drove in Thomas Collins to help the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate 4-3. The hit came off the Blue Jays’ 23-year-old right-hander Kamakani Usui.

“I fouled off a curve to start with an 0-1 count,” Bridges said. “The next pitch was a fastball up. I turned and drove it off the left-center field wall.

“The experience was pretty sweet. These are really good pitchers, so the whole experience was a lot of fun. Getting the game-winning hit was just awesome.”

Bridges has played two professional games and is 1-for-7 with one RBI, one walk and two strikeouts. He said the talent of the pitchers is noticeable.

“Everything I’ve seen so far is in the low to the mid-90s, and they are able to spot their pitches well,” he said.

Bridges has been used as the designated hitter in his first two games. He said the Yankees are planning to use him at third and first base.

“They just want to see me learning new things,” he said. “I want to show that I can come out every day and work and get better.”

The all-state performer helped Carthage to a 21-2 record this past spring. Bridges batted .522 with 11 doubles, five triples, eight homers and 35 RBI. He chose the Yankees instead of accepting a scholarship with Missouri State University.

“I love it,” Bridges said. “There’s really not another team I’d rather be with. This team has such a history.”

He’s already met one of the countless all-stars who have put on the pinstripes for the Yankees over the years.

“I got to have some conversations with Curtis Granderson, because he’s been here rehabbing,” Bridges said. “I’ve gotten to work out with him a little. It’s really been a cool experience.”

The GCL Yankees2’s game scheduled against the GCL Phillies on Tuesday was postponed because of rain. Bridges and the Yankees’ rookie squad will face the GCL Tigers at 11 a.m. today.

Bridges said he expects to finish this year and start next season in the GCL.

“After that, we’ll see where it goes from there,” he said.

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