After being selected in the 16th round by the New York Yankees in 2018. East Texan Derek Craft, still can’t believe he’s living his dream.
“I’m from Hawkins a population of about 1200, to the city of San Antonio and then to spring training, and last years season in Tampa Florida, which is also a big city, and back to kind of the small town of Pulaski. It feels like I’ve really come home and I’m just enjoying the environment and the small town life and I’m finally around trees again.”
The 6 foot 8 right handed pitcher is always a sight to see. You can take the man out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the man.
“The cowboy hat is just kind of for fun. People recognize me as the cowboy and I’m fine with that. It gives me another good nickname You know it fits you know I can wear it.”
Growing up a Texas Rangers fan, there’s some things you don’t do. You don’t root for the Yankees.
“Everybody kind of thought you’d never wear Yankees stuff,” says Derek’s father Mike Craft.
“Now here I am wearing Yankees so it’s a great thing it really is.”
After the constant grind of his rookie season, playing in the Gulf Coast League. Craft has found his rhythm in Pulaski. He’s recorded 3 saves and 16 strikeouts in 11 innings.
“A wise man once told me you have to fall in love with the process and it’s been a long one but it’s starting to pay off on the field and the game is just being fun again,” states Craft.
The joy and his enthusiasm while putting smiles on his teammates and the fans faces. Just like the memories the Craft’s have made at Calfee Park, after a 970 mile trip for the chance to hopefully see Derek on the mound.
“There’s not a single guy in the locker room that isn’t homesick in some way, shape, form, or fashion. So having my parents come out has really been kind of special for me.”
Craft knows he’ll always have their support in the stands.
“I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me over the years and all the things that they’ve had to sacrifice to come see me play and help me get to the opportunity that I’m in right now so I can’t thank them enough for that.”
As of now Craft is no longer based in Pulaski. He received another call that changed his life again. He was called up to the Staten Island Yankees, which brings him one step closer to playing the majors.