Mike Yastrzemski entered Spring Training with just 205 short-season at-bats under his belt. Three months and two in-season promotions later, the grandson of a Hall of Famer is rocketing through the Orioles farm system at a rate even he didn't see coming.
Yastrzemski went 4-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored in his Double-A debut for Bowie on Thursday as the Baysox rallied to beat the host Altoona Curve, 8-6.
"I didn't expect this at all," he said. "To be honest, I figured I would try to play for a while in [Class A] Delmarva, try to make my way to [Class A Advanced] Frederick by the end of the year and maybe play there for the last month. This is a pleasant surprise.
"I felt pretty good tonight. I always try to show my worth in the first couple games and try to help the guys win."
Playing center field and batting leadoff, the 23-year-old singled to left field and scored in the first inning then lined a two-out single the opposite way in the second. After grounding out to first base to end the fourth, Yastrzemski legged out a two-out triple in the seventh and singled and scored as part of Bowie's three-run ninth.
He also made a diving catch in the field, taking an extra-base hit away from Elias Diaz to end the third.
"Just trying to show I will do anything to keep those runs off the board, whether that means diving or running into a wall," Yastrzemski said of the highlight-reel catch. "I want to show them I know that no one is bigger than the team. There were runners on second and third, and I was playing a little deep because their four-hole hitter was up. [Diving] was the only was I would get it."
Yastrzemski batted .308 in 86 games between two levels with Delmarva and Frederick prior to his promotion. He smacked 10 homers and plated 44 runs in 63 South Atlantic League contests with the Shorebirds and recorded 19 RBIs in 23 Carolina League starts with the Keys.
Across the two classifications, the 5-foot-11 South Atlantic League All-Star saw 44 of his 108 hits go for extra bases and he swiped 17 bases in 21 attempts. In his past 10 games, he is 20-for-48 with 13 RBIs, 13 runs scored, three triples and five doubles.
Yastrzemski is one of only two Minor Leaguers with double-digit homers (11), triples (13), doubles (21) and stolen bases (17). The other is Iowa's Arismendy Alcantara, who has 10 homers, 11 triples, 25 doubles and 21 steals.
His four Eastern League hits fell one shy of matching a career high. Selected by the Orioles in the 14th round of the 2013 Draft out of Vanderbilt University, Yastrzemski was 5-for-6 for Frederick when he hit for the cycle in the Keys' 17-3 rout of Lynchburg on July 5.
While he knows he has big shoes to fill on the Bowie roster and in terms of his family legacy, Yastrzemski -- grandson of Hall of Famer, 18-time All-Star and 1967 American League MVP Carl -- is content to let the development process play out at its own speed.
Christian Walker smacked a team-leading 20 homers and plated 77 runs and Daniel Alvarez added 14 long balls and 68 RBIs before both players were promoted from Bowie to Norfolk. But Yastrzemski, one of the main beneficiaries of those callups, isn't going to try to replicate their numbers.
"They are the guys I should be thanking, because if they were not playing as well as they were, I could not have the opportunity to come up," said Yastrzemski, who joined the team earlier Thursday. "Huge respect for both guys. I'm not going to try to fill any shoes, I just want to help the team win.
"I've not had much time to talk to the guys here yet, but I know I will get a lot more strikes and a lot more strikes on the corners. I have to be patient and work hard for my pitch."
Bowie first baseman Chris Marrero homered, doubled, plated three runs and scored twice and right fielder Garabez Rosa added a solo homer, his eighth dinger of the year, in the victory.
Altoona's Alen Hanson went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and Josh Bell drew a pair of walks in his debut with the Curve.