Pulaski Yankees first baseman Brandon Wagner has always had high expectations for himself, pushing hard to grow as a player even when it meant passing on his first chance at professional baseball. Wagner grew up in New Jersey playing baseball around the clock.
"I played year-round. They have a domed facility in Flemington, New Jersey," Wagner said. "I played a lot."
And through travel ball and playing around the country, he drew the attention of the Philadelphia Phillies who drafted him in the 39th round of the 2013 draft. However, his personal expectations led to him turning them down.
"I was drafted out of high school by the Phillies and I decided to go to junior college," Wagner said. "I think I had room to improve my game. I didn't feel like I was ready and that I could spend a few years developing some more."
A tournament in Florida led to him finding Howard College, a junior college in West Texas, that he would call home for the next few seasons.
"I really liked the coaches. I was actually in Florida playing in a tournament down there and they talked to me after the game," Wagner said. "I went down there to visit in February and I was like this is it. This is the place."
So whenever draft day 2015 rolled around, Wagner felt like he was ready to make the jump to pro ball.
"I was at my house and my agent called me and was like I think you're going to go here. I said it sounded good. Then I saw my name pop up," Wagner said. "I had heard from a couple of teams but being from Jersey and watching them play my whole life, I'm really happy with the Yankees."
Wagner said his first season involved a lot of adjustments but that he's happy with the way his game has progressed with his second season winding down.
"I think I've developed a lot. I don't think I really struggled my first year. I think it was just getting used to the speed of the game, seeing really good pitching every day, and playing more," Wagner said. "And I love it in Pulaski. I wake up, go to the field, and play baseball. I love it here."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.