Under Armour All-America Game 2015: Andrew Yerzy Spotlight
Andrew Yerzy is the only one.
When he suits up with his squad at the Under Armour All-America Game on Aug. 15 at Wrigley Field, not only will he be standing in for the team he's on, but he'll be representing an entire country. The Canadian catcher is the lone participant in the matchup from north of the border, and is excited to have the opportunity to show what players from his nation can do.
“Sometimes it can be tough because people never really think of Canadians as baseball players," Yerzy said. “So you just have to go out there and show them that you can play and compete with them. It gets me excited to be able to show them how we can play up north, and it's awesome being able to represent my country at the Under Armour game."
The 17-year-old from Toronto has found great success at home, both with the Toronto Mets and the Canadian Junior National Team, but is starting to make a huge name for himself across the globe.
During Major League Baseball's All-Star break, he was one of two winners of the Junior Home Run Derby, one-upping Canuck first-round pick Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ontario), taken 12th overall by the Marlins in June, who finished second last year.
His success is due in part to Greg Hamilton, Yerzy's head coach with the national squad. Baseball Canada's program has given the young backstop the chance to travel the world, play professional-caliber competition, and to work with some of the best coaches the country has to offer.
“I owe everything to Greg and the Junior National Team in my baseball career," Yerzy said. “The exposure and the opportunities you get when you play for the Junior National Team is incomparable. Being able to get to play at such a high level against minor league players and international players is amazing and has helped me become the player I am today.
“Making Team Canada as a 15-year-old has been the highlight of my career so far. Being able to represent my country at such a young age is such an honor, and to get exposed to that high level of competition has been invaluable."
Yerzy is grateful for the support of his parents, Patricia and David, and the help he's had from the Mets in getting him to the point where he was able to join Team Canada, and for everything that has stemmed from it.
“My parents have definitely been my biggest supporters throughout everything, and have always been there for me," Yerzy said. “And the Canadian Junior National Team coaches like Greg Hamilton and (former big leaguer and national team veteran) Chris Robinson, and my former Toronto Mets coach Hyung Cho have made me a more complete player, whether it be offensively, defensively, or mentally."
While the young catcher needs to keep working on all facets of his game, he takes great pride in what he's been able to do both at and behind the dish so far, and looks forward to more.
“My biggest strength is probably my bat and my physicality," Yerzy said. “I worked a lot on my hitting and my body (with Costa Kladianos at Tempus Strength) this offseason to get bigger and stronger. I need to continue to work on staying flexible and agile behind the plate."
With half the summer remaining, Yerzy has a full baseball schedule ahead, leading into his last offseason with the potential of becoming his country's top draft pick next year.
“I am looking forward to the entire month of August," he said. “I have the Area Code Games at the beginning of the month, then the Under Armour Game, and then the Junior National Team heads off to Australia and Japan, if I make it to go to the world championships with them."