Fittingly enough, Greg Weissert had a ball and glove in hand when he found out he was drafted by the New York Yankees.
On Saturday, June 11, Weissert, who just completed his junior season at Fordham University, took a break from having a catch with his brother Brian in their parents’ backyard to take a glance at his phone.
It was then that he saw his name on Twitter, on Major League Baseball’s Draft Tracker, saying he was selected in the 18th round by the Yankees of the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Weissert immediately told his brother Brian, who just graduated from Bay Shore High School and will be playing at Fordham next spring. Then the 21-year-old Weissert told his parents, Raymond and Elizabeth, that his dream of becoming a professional baseball player had come true.
“I was pretty shocked that it actually happened,” he said. “I didn’t know what to feel. I wanted to jump up and down. It was surreal. It’s the moment you’ve been dreaming about as a little kid.”
Weissert was an All-County pitcher his junior and senior years at Bay Shore High School, from which he graduated from in 2013, then proceeded to play at Fordham, where he was a part of the Rams’ starting rotation all season long this past spring.
He started all 14 games he appeared in and tied for the team lead in wins with five, while ranking second in innings pitched (78.0) and strikeouts (82), which were tied for the 11th-best total in school history.
Weissert, who throws a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup, registered a 4.04 ERA while holding opponents to a .227 opponent batting average, and was impressive in Atlantic 10 play, going 5-0 with a 3.80 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 47.1 innings pitched.
Weissert finished his Fordham career with a record of 11-10 with four saves. He moved into 12th place on the Rams’ career strikeout list with 186.
Weissert’s Fordham teammate Joseph Serrapica was also drafted, in the 24th round by the Tampa Bay Rays.
The draft process can be “pretty crazy,” as Weissert put it. Scouts came to a number of Weissert’s starts to see what he can do on the mound. He never once spoke to a Yankee scout, but was in contact with a number of other teams, such as the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Rays.
Weissert took phone calls from Major League teams prior to the first day of the draft, which was June 9, and got a phone call on the day he was drafted about his “signability,” a term used for prospective college players making the jump to professional baseball and how easy, or not easy, they will be to sign to a contract.
Weissert admitted the entire process can be a little overwhelming.
“As a player in the draft, you don’t want to scare teams away, but at the same time you don’t want to low-ball yourself, so it’s a fine line,” he explained.
Weissert took less than a full week to sign with the Yankees. After he was drafted on June 11, he flew down to the Yankees minor league facility in Tampa the following Tuesday and was signed the next day.
Ask many Long Islanders if getting drafted by the hometown Yankees is the ultimate dream growing up, they’d probably say yes. But Weissert was never a Yankees fan.
He was a Mets fan as a kid, but couldn’t deal with the disastrous seasons the Mets had in 2007 and 2008, when they had playoff spots in hand, only to see them crumble towards the end of the season.
So, Weissert dropped the Mets as his favorite team and began to follow the Milwaukee Brewers, who at the time had solid young players in C.C. Sabathia, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.
His prior allegiances are all out the window now.
“Now, I’m a Yankee fan,” he said.
Although he was a starting pitcher this past spring at Fordham, Weissert will, at least initially, begin his career as a relief pitcher. He is playing with the Pulaski Yankees, Rookie Ball affiliate of the Yankees, in Pulaski, Va., where the season just began this past Friday, June 24.
Weissert still has a full senior year left at Fordham and said he would like to finish his degree in business administration with a business economics concentration.
He’ll have to work it around his baseball schedule, such as taking winter and online classes, but it’s something he definitely wants to complete.
“I’ve worked this hard up until this point so I definitely want to finish school and get my degree,” he said. “But baseball is a priority; it’s my job now, which is a pretty cool thing to say.”