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Top pick Hensley 'fired up' about joining Yankees

06/05/2012 4:03 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

The Yankees are optimistic that Hensley can develop into a top-tier pitcher.(Gregg Forwerck)
“When my name was called last night, I teared up because I was so happy. I was so fired up...to be able to have the chance to play in pinstripes someday. If I could’ve picked any team to go to, it definitely would’ve been the Yankees.”

Those are the words of Yankees first-round draft pick Ty Hensley, who formally met the New York media in a conference call on Tuesday afternoon.

Less than 24 hours earlier, Hensley was anxiously awaiting a call from any organization, hoping to go somewhere in the first round. And while he never expected it to be the Bombers on the other end when the phone did ring, he was certainly glad it was.

“Before it started, I really didn’t think I would get to the Yankees pick, and I don’t think they did either, but it worked out that way. Looking back, I probably wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said.

During the call, Hensley revealed that he will most likely forego his commitment to play at the University of Mississippi and sign with the organization – and hopes to be in the Bronx on a similar timetable as the Yankees’ top pick 20 years ago, one Derek Jeter.

“My goal is definitely to be (in the Majors) by the time I’m 21 years old, which would’ve been my junior year in college,” the right-hander said. “I think that’s realistic; I know I have a long way to go, but I’m not going to stop working until I get there, and even after that.”

So what can Yankees fans look forward to with the young right-hander?

“My number one strength is my aptitude, my ability to make adjustments on the fly and learn from pitch to pitch,” he said. “I think my best pitch is my curveball, as it’s a true 12-6 downer. I’ve also been really pleased with my progression with my changeup this year; it’s come on for me and it’s only going to keep getting better.”

That said, the young man who said that he patterns himself after Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander knows that he has a lot to work on before he can get to the Bronx.

“I need to work on refining my command, which will come with time and repetition, but I feel confident in all my pitches,” he said.

No matter how long it takes, Hensley knows that he’ll have the support of his father, Mike, who is the current head coach at Kansas State University – and was drafted twice, first by the Astros in 1985 out of high school and again by the Cardinals in 1988 out of Oklahoma.

“I’m really blessed and lucky to have a father who has been through it before,” the junior Hensley said. “My dad helped me all the way up to this point, and I don’t know where I’d be without him.”

He’ll also have the support of his hometown, Edmond, Okla., which has now seen two of its native sons become top draft picks this spring; in addition to Hensley, Brandon Weeden, whom the Yankees selected out of Santa Fe High with their top pick in 2002, was one of Cleveland’s first-round picks in the NFL Draft this past April.

“Edmond is a great town to grow up in, and everyone here has been so supportive. My phone flooded with texts and calls of congratulations; it was really special to me,” an emotional Hensley said. “Everybody here is a big Brandon Weeden fan too; it’s a great opportunity.”

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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