By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It has been quite the summer for former Saint Joseph’s University baseball standout Jimmy Yacabonis.
First, he was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 13th-round of the June MLB Draft. Soon after signing he was assigned to Baltimore’s short-season Class-A squad in Aberdeen, Maryland. Then earlier this month, he made his first professional all-star team, getting the call for the American League squad in the New York-Penn League showcase game.
“It’s been good,” Yacabonis recently told KYW Newsradio about the start of his pro career. “I’ve been working with some good coaches, been around some good guys, getting some good advice and everything’s been rolling pretty smoothly.”
The 21-year-old right-hander has appeared in 15 games for the Aberdeen IronBirds, going 2-1 with three saves and a 1.90 ERA. In 23 2/3 innings, he has struck out 23 batters and walked 10.
“Just really attacking guys with fastballs,” Yacabonis says. “Getting after them early in counts. Not being scared, not trying to pitch around guys, just letting guys get themselves out.”
Yacabonis compiled a 2.02 ERA in 26 games as a junior in 2013 at St. Joe’s. He also set a program record for saves in a season with ten. That helped earn him second team All-Atlantic 10 and All-Philadelphia Baseball Big 5 honors. He says he came a long way during his three years on Hawk Hill.
“It was a process,” Yacabonis says. “Going in, freshman year, I was such a young kid. Freshman year to sophomore year to junior year I made leaps and bounds to become a better person and just have a better work ethic. I thank the coaches for that. A lot of the coaching staff, the strength program at St. Joe’s, really helped me.”
The all-star appearance earlier this month for Yacabonis came less than two months after his pro debut.
“It was an awesome experience,” Yacabonis says. “A lot of people that I talked to didn’t think I was going to make it. I had a good ERA, but I didn’t have a high innings total. But I ended up making it and I threw one (scoreless) inning in the game. It was awesome. A great group of guys went and the guys from my team that went, Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Wynns and Trey Mancini, they’re all great guys, too. So it was great to share the experience with them.”
So it has been quite the whirlwind for Yacabonis, and he knows the moment when the fact he was a pro baseball player became real.
“It really settled in, the first time I got out on the mound,” Yacabonis says. “My very first outing, I couldn’t have been more jittery, I was all over the place, just doing all kinds of weird stuff (laughs). That’s when it really hit. Once I had the first outing and settled down, all smooth sailing from there.”
Yacabonis and the IronBirds host Hudson Valley on Monday night in NYPL action.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.