EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 12, 2009

Yaz — The Next Generation: Sox draft Andover grandson of Hall of Famer

Bill Burt

ANDOVER — Like grandfather, like grandson.

At least that's what it seemed to be yesterday when the Red Sox announced, with their 36th round pick, that they had chosen Andover resident Michael Yastrzemski, grandson of ex-Red Sox star and Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.

And where was the recent St. John's Prep graduate when the pick was made? Taking after his grandfather, Yastrzemski was in a boat with two friends Jake Gostanian and cousin Michael Lamagna ... fishing.

"I was nervous. I wanted to get away from the baseball scene. So I went fishing," said Yastrzemski. "It calmed me down ... until my mother called me to tell me I was drafted."

What does the Red Sox drafting Yastrzemski mean?

It means nothing. Yet it means everything.

Yastrzemski has already accepted a partial scholarship to SEC power Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. What happened yesterday doesn't change that.

But being drafted is part of the evolution of a baseball player. Most major leaguers were drafted in high school.

Heck, Tom Brady was drafted in the 18th round by the Montreal Expos as a catcher.

"(The Red Sox scout) said he understood that I was probably going to go to college," said Yastrzemski. "But he also said that I deserved to be drafted. That I had worked hard to get where I am and that I earned it. And that the Red Sox were not wasting a pick on me (because of my name). That was nice to hear."

Amid the phone calls and back slaps, Yastrzemski, 18, said there were times he was melancholy.

Those were the times he thought about his dad, Michael, who died in September 2004 from complications after a surgery.

His father was drafted twice, once after graduating high school (Braves) and the other time after his junior year at Florida State (White Sox). After an All-American run at Florida State his father made it all the way to Triple-A before calling it a career.

"That was the tough part of the day. I thought about him a lot," said Yastrzemski. "Most of the credit for who I am as a baseball player goes to him. He taught me everything."

Attending Vanderbilt, which has made the NCAAs four straight years, appears to be a no-brainer.

It's one of the top academic schools in the country, one of the top baseball schools (6 Commodores and four recruits were drafted!), and at 5-11, 175 pounds, Yastrzemski has a lot of growing to do.

Before his dad died he told his only son to promise him one thing.

"He wanted me to go to college and get an education," said Yastrzemski. "He knew I wanted to play baseball, but you never know. It's always nice to have the education to fall back on."

While everyone in the family is on the same page in terms of Michael heading to Vanderbilt, grandpa Yaz said he'd like to come over the house soon and discuss his options.

"Carl called and said, 'We'll sit down and digest this and see what happens,'" said Michael's mother, Ann-Marie. "Carl was thrilled it was the Red Sox. I know Carl would love Michael to end up some day with the Red Sox. They were so good to him ... It just would be special."

E-mail Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

Vanderbilt's Field is just like Fenway

Even if Michael Yastrzemski doesn't sign with the Red Sox, he'll feel like he's at Fenway.

Vanderbilt's Hawkins Field and Fenway have two things in common: a 35-foot left-field wall and the fans sing Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline in the middle of the 8th inning during games.