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Baseball: Isaiah Pasteur ‘devoted’ to staying sharp, climbing ranks in Yankees’ system

Staten Island Yankees player Isaiah Pasteur, a Winters Mill High School grad and former Times Baseball Player of the Year, watches from the dugout as he waits for his turn at the plate during Thursday's game against the Aberdeen IronBirds. Pasteur is in the New York Yankees organization playing for the Single A Staten Island Yankees.
Staten Island Yankees player Isaiah Pasteur, a Winters Mill High School grad and former Times Baseball Player of the Year, watches from the dugout as he waits for his turn at the plate during Thursday's game against the Aberdeen IronBirds. Pasteur is in the New York Yankees organization playing for the Single A Staten Island Yankees. (Matt Button / Baltimore Sun Media Group/Baltimore Sun)

ABERDEEN — Isaiah Pasteur tells himself he can’t get frustrated with nights like the one he had Thursday.

Staten Island visited Aberdeen in a New York-Penn League baseball game, a matchup of low-Single A ballclubs in the Yankees and Orioles organizations. Pasteur got the start in left field for Staten Island, a reward for his family and friends that came to Ripken Stadium to see him play close to home. The Winters Mill High School graduate and former Times Player of the Year is coming back from a hand injury that sidelined him for about a month, but Pasteur’s mission hasn’t changed.

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Upon being drafted in 2018, the former standout at George Washington University made it his goal to climb the Yankees’ minor-league ladder and make it to the big leagues one day.

“I feel like I’m meant to be here. I feel like I’m exactly where I want to be,” Pasteur said before Thursday’s game, a 1-0 Staten Island win. “Just working my hardest to work up as fast as I can.”

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Pasteur made a defensive play in the victory, but he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts at the plate. The outfielder was batting .256 with five doubles and seven RBIs going into Friday’s game against the IronBirds. Pasteur had a good start when he came to Staten Island from Charleston, the Yankees’ high-A team, in June for the start of the New York-Penn League season.

His bat and speed impressed Staten Island manager David Adams, who said Pasteur led the Yanks in RBIs in the early going. The hand injury has slowed him a bit, and Pasteur said he’s learning how to find a balance from not being able to play as much because of rehabilitation procedures.

“It’s kind of frustrating, difficult to deal with, but that’s part of the gig,” Pasteur said. “You just have to work through it.”

Pasteur worked through a college switch, going (2015-16) from Indiana to George Washington in 2018. His one year with the Colonials was a big one — Pasteur hit .331 with 14 doubles, 11 home runs, and 49 RBIs in 57 games. Pasteur also collected 31 stolen bases and posted a .398 on-base percentage.

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Pasteur made program history with a program-record 32-game hit streak, and record three consecutive Atlantic-10 Player of the Week awards. He led the league in runs, triples, total bases, and slugging percentage, while ranking in the top three in hits, home runs, stolen bases, RBIs, and at-bats.

The Yankees drafted Pasteur in the 13th round of the 2018 draft with the 397th overall pick.

He played well for New York’s Gulf Coast League team last year (.322, five HRs, 12 RBIs in 19 games), and moved to the Yankees’ Appalachian League team for nine more games. This year began with some time in the South Atlantic League — Pasteur hit .152 with a double and a triple with the River Dogs — before joining Staten Island for the “short season” that runs from June through early September.

“This being my first full season, I’m noticing that it’s a much longer season than I realized,” Pasteur said about his entire 2019 campaign. “A lot of ups and downs, a lot of things changing. Injury has been a big one for me this year. But just knowing that, just because you’re not on the field every day doesn’t mean you can’t get better.”

Staten Island Yankees player Isaiah Pasteur, former Times Baseball Player of the Year, returns to the dugout after a turn at the plate during Thursday evening's game against the Aberdeen IronBirds. Pasteur is now a minor leaguer with the Yankees organization playing for the Single A Staten Island Yankees.
Staten Island Yankees player Isaiah Pasteur, former Times Baseball Player of the Year, returns to the dugout after a turn at the plate during Thursday evening's game against the Aberdeen IronBirds. Pasteur is now a minor leaguer with the Yankees organization playing for the Single A Staten Island Yankees. (Matt Button / Baltimore Sun Media Group/Baltimore Sun)

Adams said nobody is expecting Pasteur to pick up right where he left off in June, but the Staten Island skipper likes what he has seen from the 6-foot-2, 182-pounder.

“He’s a guy that puts in the time. He’s devoted, he has a great work ethic. He’s focused,” Adams said. “For me and I think for all us, it’s just a matter of time before it starts clicking again. He definitely has tools. That sets him apart from some guys. The athleticism that he’s been born with. Not many people are dealt that card.”

Pasteur was back in the lineup Friday as Staten Island’s designated hitter. His return to becoming a regular starter is still “a work in progress,” Adams said. But Pasteur said he’s focused on showing the Yankees they made a good choice in drafting him.

“Once I’m in the game, I feel super comfortable,” Pasteur said. "I feel relaxed and comfortable in my ability to play. The only frustrating thing about this year is not being able to show it day in and day out with the injuries and moving around a lot. Throughout a long season, you’re going to have times where you go 0-for-20, you have a bad series. Things happen.

“For me, it’s just learning what my reset button is and what my mental cues are to get back to playing the way I know I can play.”

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