We got a New York Yankee in the family!

I stopped by my parents house the other day and my mom informed me that her cousin's son (my 2nd cousin) just got signed to the New York Yankees fresh out of high school.

What's really neat, is that while Evan's been playing baseball forever and his dream was to one day be a Yankee, having going to games all the time as a kid, he also really wanted to go to college and had a full ride scholarship to play baseball for San Diego this fall. College being the only thing really holding him back from signing with the Yankees, they wrote in his contract that they would bank x-amount of money for him, in case something were to happen and he could no longer play, he could still go back and attend college.

DeLuca living his dream (from MyCentralJersey.com)
Evan DeLuca is the type of kid people root for.

Tom Gambino, Immaculata High School's baseball coach, compares DeLuca to another former Spartan, Jack Cust.

"There's not a nicer kid," Gambino said of DeLuca. "When I had Jack as a senior, everybody rooted for him, no matter who you were in the school. Everybody liked Jack because he's such a nice person. (DeLuca) may be a step nicer than Jack."

DeLuca took a small leap in following the Oakland Athletics outfielder's footsteps by signing with the New York Yankees Monday night, three minutes before the deadline to sign draft picks.

"I've been dreaming about playing in the organization since I was little. . . . It's a bit of a dream come true for me," DeLuca said.

The 44th-round selection signed for $500,000, a number that he; his father, David; agent Bob Barad; and the Yankee organization could all agree upon."I'm on a cloud right now," David DeLuca said Thursday. "It's really hard to believe that Evan's a part of one of the greatest baseball organizations in history."

Evan DeLuca reported to the Yankees' rookie-league team in the Gulf Coast League, based in Tampa Bay, Fla., Thursday morning. It was the first step in fulfilling a childhood dream, and a dream for David DeLuca, who was also a draft prospect out of high school.

Evan DeLuca is not expected to play for the affiliate this season but will remain in Tampa for instructional ball, which begins Sept. 23 and helps athletes with conditioning and allows for additional hitting and pitching sessions.

DeLuca is adjusting to life as a professional baseball player. He already received his jersey and ran into major-leaguer Ian Kennedy, who is rehabbing.

"I'm used to seeing these guys on television and now I'm part of the Yankee family," DeLuca said.

DeLuca had signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the University of San Diego, and had every intention of heading to California for school in the fall. But the "mystique" of the Yankees was too special to overcome.

Letting the Toreros know that he would not be playing for them was the most difficult part of the experience for both the younger and elder DeLucas. David DeLuca called the whole experience "a roller-coaster event."

With the midnight deadline approaching quickly, the DeLucas went into New York to get a physical done, as was recommended by the Yankees. When they got home, they found out the Yankees had depleted most of their budget for signing bonuses.

"After thinking he was 90 percent sure he was going to be a Yankee, he was 90 percent thinking he's not going to be a Yankee," David explained.
At three minutes before midnight, while father and son waited quietly in Evan's bedroom, the phone rang. It was Evan's agent telling them the deal had been struck.
"We were ecstatic, and there were lots of tears," David said. "Luckily, they were tears of joy."
Gambino, who also worked with Evan DeLuca at the Jack Cust Academy in Flemington, was equally thrilled about his former player's contract.
"Everyone is excited for Evan," Gambino said. "My phone was blowing up, people asking, "Is it true?' "
Both David DeLuca and Gambino agree that it was Evan's performance this summer, pitching in Washington state, that nudged the Yankees into signing him.
DeLuca registered 94- and 97-mph pitches in four wins on the West Coast. And that velocity coupled with DeLuca's lefty delivery and mean pick-off move ("It's ferocious," Gambino said) make him a candidate to move up the Yankees' depth chart during his time in Tampa.
"I think the thing he's going to have to do is stay focused," explained Gambino, who has coached no fewer than a dozen Major League Baseball draftees. "With his velocity from the left side, he's going to get noticed."
If DeLuca can stay focused while working with Yankee Hall of Famers such as Goose Gossage and Whitey Ford, Gambino is sure he'll make an impact in the baseball community.
"He's going to be a great ambassador for the sport, ambassador for me at Immaculata, for the Jack Cust Academy, because everybody loves this kid," Gambino said.

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