New York Yankees News: Will Albertson Deciding Between Yankees, Senior Year


With the 1,203rd pick out of a total 1,215 picks, the New York Yankees used their 40th-round pick on D-II National Player of the Year, Will Albertson of obscure Catawba College.  While Albertson didn’t play Division I college baseball, his video game-like statistics led Albertson to the Yankees radar.  In 62 games, he hit .467 with 26 home runs and 91 RBI’s, reaching base 53.1 percent of the time, and only striking out 21 times in nearly 300 plate appearances.

After leading his team all the way to the D-II World Series, which they lost 3-1 to the University of Tampa, Albertson is left with a difficult decision.  Should the All-American catcher sign with the Yankees and begin his professional career, or should he return to Catawba for his senior year and attempt to win the season’s final game?

With the July 17th deadline fast-approaching, the 21-year-old Albertson is weighing his options while spending his second summer playing with the Asheboro Copperheads in the Coastal Plain League, a development league for college players.  Albertson is either truly undecided or is refusing to tip his hand:

"The ultimate goal since I was a little kid is to play pro ball, but if not this year, then definitely as a senior signing next year.  If I don’t sign, I’ll go back to college, and that’s not a problem with me at all.  I love playing for coach (Jim) Gantt at Catawba.  I’ll go back with some experience, get a chance to be a mentor to some younger players."

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Billy Godwin, the Yankees scout in Albertson’s area, led to the Yankees taking a chance on the young catcher, after noticing him while visiting Catawba to scout Craig Brooks pitch.  Brooks, who went 9-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 158 strikeouts in just 99 innings was taken by the Chicago Cubs in the seventh round.

Even with the word of Godwin, Albertson says that no offer has been made by the Yankees:

"There’s no offer yet from the Yankees.  (Godwin) wants to come watch me play some this summer before they make an offer.  He wants to see me catch.  It’s still up in the air."

Albertson, who went 20-for-22 during a hot stretch over the spring, added that Godwin has yet to see him behind the plate, as he never caught Brooks, an arrangement that allowed Catawba to keep his bat in the lineup for all 62 games:

"The thing is, I never caught Craig.  The way our defense was set up in games he pitched, I was in the outfield and T.J. (Wharton) was catching.  They noticed the bat, saw me hit and believe the bat is there.  Now they need to see me catch before they make an offer."

Albertson, who has been a catcher since high school, spent two seasons at Campbell, a D-I school, on a scholarship.  He performed well, hitting .382 in 27 games as a freshman, and .286 in 53 games as a sophomore.  Unfortunately for Albertson, only 12 of those games came behind the plate, and the lack of catching opportunities, which he saw as his best path to a professional career, eventually led to his transfer:

"I enjoyed my time there.  I liked my teammates, and I grew a lot as a person and as a player.  It’s a Christian school, and I grew a lot in my faith, as well, which has been very important to me, but I just wasn’t getting to catch a whole lot.  I played a lot of outfield and DH’d a little bit.  We were a better team when I was in the outfield.  It gave us a better lineup.  I’ve been a catcher my whole life.  I’m comfortable there.  I have more value back there.  I’m not a liability in the outfield, but I’m never going to be the best outfielder on any team.  I don’t have enough power to play corner outfield, and I’m not fast enough to play center field.  My value is behind the plate.  I accept that, and that’s what I want to do.  I want to catch."

Once Albertson arrived in Catawba, he gained the trust of his manager, Jim Gantt, who allowed him to call his own games.  Albertson also learned how to handle a pitching staff, something that is vital for any hopes of a big league career he has.  Albertson, a childhood friend of Wil Myers, feels that catching is a love or hate thing, and ultimately he loves the position:

"As a catcher, you’re in the game on every pitch.  You’re a factor in the game defensively, and you get to work with the pitching staff.  You manage the game.  You have to think as a catcher, think your way through games, try to pick up hitters tendencies, things like that.  It’s fun because catching tests your IQ for the game.  Catching is a love or hate thing.  To do it at the next level, to catch professionally, you’ve got to love it.  If you just like it and don’t love it, it’s going to take a toll on you.  It’s going to affect your hitting and the rest of your game.  It wouldn’t be a good situation."

It is unlikely that Albertson, who seems like a very intelligent young man, has anything left to prove at the collegiate level.  While a year similar to the one he had in 2015 could improve his draft-stock, it is unlikely that it will be a major improvement.  Signing with the Yankees would allow Albertson to begin carving his path to the big leagues, and for the Yankees, his bat could potentially offer tremendous upside.

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