The fly ball sailed into left field and old-time New England baseball fans enjoyed a flashback.

In front of the 37-foot green wall, the left fielder Yastrzemski made the catch.

A green monster … left field … Yastrzemski?

Before you ask, the answer is yes, Mike Yastrzemski is related to that Yaz.

Carl Yastrzemski, now 75, spent his 23-year Hall of Fame career playing left field in Fenway Park, from 1961-83.

Now his grandson Mike, 24, plays left (and right) for the Bowie Baysox, a Baltimore Orioles affiliate. The younger Yastrzemski isn’t supposed to be a prospect – 14th-round draft pick in 2013 with “no offensive tools that rates plus,” according to Baseball America.

But that same publication also ranks Yastrzemski the Orioles’ No. 9 prospect, noting that “he plays hard and never takes a pitch off.”

Yastrzemski reached Double-A in his first full pro season last year. This year he’s batting .265 with a .711 OPS. Not eye-popping numbers yet, but promising.

“There are bloodlines you can’t ignore,” Bowie Manager Gary Kendall said. “He’s just a grinder. He goes out there and competes. Put him anywhere in the lineup, you’re going to get the same effort. A good player with good instincts. His work ethic is probably the same his grandfather had.”

Kendall, 51, grew up watching the Orioles play in Baltimore. It was a treat when the Red Sox came to town.

“Mike’s grandfather was special to watch,” Kendall said.

But doesn’t that make the expectation for Mike to be special, even greater? And wearing that name on the back of his jersey must add to the demands.

The grandson is used to the question.

“This is the only name I grew up with,” he said with a smile. “I don’t feel any extra pressure. I just go out and play my game. Be myself.”

It’s advice that comes from those before him that wore the name, his grandfather, and his late father Mike, who reached Triple-A.

But that doesn’t mean there weren’t expectations to play well. While in high school in Andover, Massachusetts, Mike Yastrzemski and his grandfather spent Sundays in the batting cage.

In an interview last year with, Carl Yastrzemski admitted that “sometimes I was a little too intense” during those workouts.

“Oh, yeah,” Mike Yastrzemski agreed. “There were days I’d go in there and it just wasn’t my day. It’s baseball – sometimes no matter how hard you try, you just can’t do it … he didn’t take too kindly to his grandson not having a good day in the cage.

“But it was always fun. We always came back to normal. And I came out of there better every time.”

But their roots go deeper than baseball. In 2004, when Mike was 14, his father – Carl’s son – died of a heart attack at the age of 43. Mike needed someone and his grandfather was there.

“There was some great relationship building that happened over that,” Mike said. “In tough times, families come together and that’s what happened.”

Grandfather and grandson spent more time together. Fishing became a prime activity, but don’t ask where his grandfather took him. “He has some secret spots I can’t reveal,” Mike said.

And his baseball ability was obvious. A standout high school player at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts, Mike Yastrzemski was drafted by the Red Sox in the 36th round of the 2009 draft.

“It would have been hectic, crazy,” he said of playing in the Red Sox organization. “But I had my mind made up before the draft to go to college.”

Yastrzemski played for Vanderbilt and initially roomed with Portland native Regan Flaherty, younger brother of Ryan Flaherty, a former Vanderbilt player now playing for the Orioles. Yastrzemski and Ryan Flaherty were teammates briefly in Bowie this year when Flaherty was on a rehab assignment.

At Vanderbilt, Yastrzemski became a starter his freshman season. After his junior year, the Seattle Mariners drafted him in the 30th round. But he returned to Vanderbilt for his senior year, earning his degree in crime and society.

The Orioles drafted him in 2013 and now he’s with Bowie, which brings him to Hadlock Field this weekend.

No matter where Mike Yastrzemski is playing, he knows his grandfather is a phone call away, when Mike wants to talk about anything – fishing, golf, or the mechanics of a baseball swing.

“When I struggle, I can talk to him,” Mike Yastrzemski said, a smile forming. “He might know a little bit more about hitting than the average grandfather.”


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