Every summer, the top prospects in college baseball flock to New England to test their skills against one another in the Cape Cod Baseball League. In this high-pressure environment, gifted players are tested against some of the nation’s best collegiate prospects, providing a glimpse of their major-league potential.
It is common for players to falter under expectations at this level, but BU redshirt sophomore third baseman Justin Yurchak remained unfazed when he took the field last summer for the Bourne Braves. He batted .295 while learning a new position and earned himself all-star distinction among a field of worthy talent. From June to August, he developed his skills on the opposite side of the diamond at first.
“[It was] absolutely humbling,” Yurchak said. “I learned a lot on the defensive side of the ball. I was [playing at] first, which was new, so I worked on a lot of footwork over there. Offensively, it was great pitching, so I tried to stay disciplined.”
Yurchak showed discipline and poise, drawing 25 walks — the second most in the league. The highly competitive play has been beneficial for Yurchak’s game. After sitting on Binghamton’s bench for the 2016 season due to NCAA regulations, the Wake Forest transfer is sporting a blazing .545 average. Yurchak credits nearly everyone but himself for this stretch.
“I gotta give [credit] to my teammates and coaches,” Yurchak said. “They pushed me. That’s why we’re where we are right now.”
With the ultimate goal being to win the America East (AE) Conference title for the fourth time in five years, the Bearcats have played up to the expectations they have set for themselves. For Yurchak, BU’s team record is the lone statistic he cares about — individual goals are secondary.
“My only goal is to win a championship,” he said. “That’s the main thing. I’ve been working all along to win an America East Championship, go to a regional and maybe create some havoc there.”
The former Atlantic Coast Conference All-Freshman selection faced a familiar foe last month — No. 19 Virginia Tech. He led the team in BU’s four-game sweep, going 7-for-18, but again prioritized the Bearcats’ success over his individual performance.
“It was awesome,” he said. “My freshman year, we never swept a series and then this year, we go down there and sweep a four-game series. It feels pretty good to get the team rolling in the right direction.”
Despite his team-oriented mentality, Yurchak is highly sought after among professional scouts. He barely missed Baseball America’s Top 30 College Hitters ranking. But for now, Yurchak’s focus remains on winning this season and letting the other chips fall where they may.
“[Being scouted] is great, but it’s beside the point right now,” he said. “At the moment, the whole team’s just trying to go out and win. Whatever happens after that happens, but it’s not a priority at the moment.”
The Bearcats are set return to action and begin AE play next weekend against UMass Lowell. First pitch is scheduled for noon from Edward A. LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Massachusetts.