Sports

From Hawk to Oriole

Jimmy Yacabonis delivers a pitch for the Hawks at Citizens Bank Park (Photo courtesy of Sideline Photos, LLC).
Nick Mandarano
Written by Nick Mandarano

Former Hawk Jimmy Yacabonis debuts for the Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles turned to the 25-year-old right-handed relief pitcher and former Saint Joseph’s University Hawk Jimmy Yacabonis in the bottom of the seventh inning against the New York Yankees on June 11.

Drafted after his junior year in the 13th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball June Amateur Draft, Yacabonis became the third Saint Joseph’s University Hawk to play for an MLB team, the most notable being Jamie Moyer, ’85, who pitched 25 years in the Majors including five years for the Philadelphia Phillies. The other was Fritz Henrich, who played for the Phillies in 1924.

Moyer and Yacabonis have notably contrasting styles. While Moyer’s pitches generally sat in the low 80’s in terms of velocity, Yacabonis is able to ramp his fastball up near 100 mph and showcases a repertoire that consists of a fastball, changeup and sider.

During his junior season at St. Joe’s, Yacabonis earned Second Team All-Atlantic 10 honors and set the program’s single season save record with 10. He became the third player drafted for Hawks’ Head Coach Fritz Hamburg.

“I actually got a text at 12:15 am Saturday night/Sunday morning that he was going up,” Hamburg said. “A lot of his teammates from St. Joe’s were at the game. The nice thing is with him being in the Baltimore organization, a lot of their farm system teams are somewhat close. We’ve all been following him closely along the way and it’s great that he’s as close as he is and his family and friends get to see him as much as they do. We all couldn’t be happier for this opportunity for him and certainly hope it lasts a long time.”

Yacabonis was brought in for the start of the bottom of the seventh inning during his debut and worked the Yankees’ Chris Carter to a full count before striking him out with a 98 mph fastball low in the zone. He finished the inning with two walks, two hits and four runs allowed in addition to his first Major League strikeout.

He advanced from high-A ball to AA to play for the Bowie Baysox on May, 26, 2016. Since then, he’s quickly advanced through the organization and finally reached the Major League roster on June 11, 2017.

“I thought he had a shot right away,” Baysox pitching coach Kennie Steenstra said. “He had a very good arm and had some late movement to his fastball as well, so any time you get a guy that throws mid-90’s and the ball’s moving around pretty good and he’s got a big, strong frame and he’s very durable, there’s always a shot for those guys to get a taste in the Big Leagues. I think right away we kind of had that feeling that he might.”

In 2017, Yacabonis pitched in 23 games in for the AAA Norfolk Tide, where he posted a 0.90 ERA, 1.033 WHIP and led the team in saves with seven prior to his call-up.

“First of all, he’s [Yacabonis] a competitor,” Tide pitching coach Mike Griffin said. “He earned his right to go up there. He’s been pitching well since day one. He’s a very competitive person and very driven to succeed and that plays into his style of pitching and his work ethic, which is just outstanding.”

Yacabonis appeared again for the Orioles against the Chicago White Sox in a game on June 13. He pitched two innings and allowed no runs with one hit and one walk.

The Orioles return home and begin a new series with the St. Louis Cardinals on June 16. The Orioles and Phillies are not scheduled to play in 2017.

About the author

Nick Mandarano

Nick Mandarano

Nick Mandarano, ’18, Sports Editor

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