Drew Hayes is back in professional baseball once again, this time in player development.
The former McKenzie and Vanderbilt standout, who played briefly for the Cincinnati Reds, accepted a post with the Toronto Blue Jays. He will be in minor league player development with the Jays’ Class A affiliate in Lansing, Michigan.
Hayes is headed to Dunedin, Florida where the Blue Jays hold spring training and will head north. The job came out of the clear blue sky, said the former Rebel. He was preparing for the upcoming TCA baseball season when he got a text.
“Gil Kim, who played at Vandy before I got there and is Toronto’s Minor League director, told me they had an opening and thought I’d be a good fit,” he said. “I had a phone interview the next day.”
Hayes said he had seen Kim at a couple of coaching conventions.
The Blue Jays called him back and asked him to fly to Florida for a follow-up, in-person interview, then he flew back to Tennessee and was at work the next day.
“I told Coach (Jeremy) Maddox (TCA’s baseball coach), that I hadn’t heard from them and figured I didn’t get the job. Then, on Thursday, they offered me the job. I was getting ready for the TCA season and within two weeks, I was working for the Blue Jays.”
“This will be a new organization-wide position for the Blue Jays, but one they felt they needed. To be honest, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do and I don’t think the Blue Jays do either, but we’ll be applying analytical data to coaching on the field, trying to get players to meet goals,” Hayes said. “Maybe we want our pitchers to throw with more velocity or work on spin rate with their fast ball and curve ball. Things like that.”
Hayes led the Rebels to the 2006 Class A state baseball title and earned the state baseball player of the year award from the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association. He also won the Class A Mr. Football back award in the fall of 2005.
After a brief time at Bethel, he transferred to Vanderbilt University where he was a weekend starter and reliever for the nationally-ranked Commodores. In 2010, he was drafted in the 12th round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft. He was drafted out of high school by the Arizona Diamondbacks and after his junior season by the Seattle Mariners.
Hayes says he thinks his experience as a minor leaguer, a Major Leaguer, a teacher and coach will help him with his new job.