Unheralded and undersized, Somerset Patriots wide receiver is making waves in Yankees organization

BRIDGEWATER – Here comes the fighter.

If you didn’t know better, you might think Mickey Gasper was a boxer; the 26-year-old Merrimack, New Hampshire native certainly has the look, a chiseled chin covered in dark stubble that reminds him of someone who likes to throw their hands up for a living.

Instead, he just kicks the guys out.

But that’s not to say the Somerset Patriots wide receiver hasn’t had to fight for all he has in a different way, though. Caught in a round of the draft that no longer exists as a small-school senior, the 5-foot-10, 205-pound Gasper had to win it all along the way.

Never the easy road.

Never considered a prospect.

And it suits him.

Mickey Gasper was a 27th-round New York Yankees draft pick out of Bryant University in 2018.

Mickey Gasper was a 27th-round New York Yankees draft pick out of Bryant University in 2018.

“It’s just going out and proving yourself every day,” said Gasper, selected by the New York Yankees in the 27th round of Bryant University in 2018.

“If you get that prospect recognition, you get that prospect recognition, but it’s about valuing the team and going out and having the chance to go out and play every day. So, I try not to watch that stuff. It’s fun to see your friends get a lot of hype on social media, but that’s no reason to be jealous or have any grudges. It’s about getting out every day, competing, and enjoying the game we’re playing.

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A quick look at the back of his baseball card would show that Gasper has been nice to watch so far for Somerset. Going into the final games of the series against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, he’s hitting .387 with two doubles, three RBIs and six walks against just six strikeouts.

Yet he remained under the radar.

And it suits him too.

Mickey Gasper was a 27th-round New York Yankees draft pick out of Bryant University in 2018.

Mickey Gasper was a 27th-round New York Yankees draft pick out of Bryant University in 2018.

“I think I’ve always been a bit under the radar, so I would say that’s definitely part of me,” he said. “I wasn’t too recruited out of high school and I was an upper terminal out of college. So, I’ve always had to earn every opportunity I have at every level, and I’ve always had to separate myself from my game on the pitch. I let my game do the talking. I adopted him, that’s for sure.

Another way Gasper tried to distance himself from the rest of the peloton? Work ethic. He earned the respect of the clubhouse with seemingly tireless early work before games, as well as a consistently positive attitude despite an uphill battle for consistent playing time.

“There’s a quote from Willie Mays that I really like, ‘To excel you must be completely dedicated to the sport you have chosen,'” Gasper said.

“I think there’s no better job in the world than playing baseball and coming here to Somerset, New Jersey. I guess there would be two better jobs in the Yankees organization – going to Scranton and then going to the Bronx – but right now I’m trying to be in the present, and there’s no best place in the world to be.

“I can play baseball for a living. So why don’t I come here and give it my all and work hard. I love being on the field, and (defensive coach) Aaron Bossi is always available to push me and give me advice. I’m always ready to fight, but I try to take advantage of every opportunity I have with this excellent organization.

Gasper was one of several receivers selected by the Yankees in that year’s draft – Anthony Seigler and his current teammate Josh Breaux were their top two picks in 2018 – and has carried a chip on his shoulder since being taken as late as he was, considered little more than organizational depth at the time.

Every moment since has been spent trying to top and top that prospect.

“If you get five million dollars or five thousand dollars, you’re trying to show your worth,” he said. “I’ve always played with a little chip on my shoulder, but I think that’s the way to play baseball. Maybe it’s just growing up and watching my dad coach basketball and him being very passionate and being in the game. He was an intense guy. That’s how I like to be, I like to be in it. Some people like to call it a chip on your shoulder, some people say that’s just how you play.

With a significant amount of premium catching talent in the organization – High-A Hudson Valley wide receiver Austin Wells, Breaux and Low-A Tampa wide receiver Antonio Gomez all entered the season as Top 30 Yankees system prospects. according to Baseball America – Gasper was looking to show more of his versatility this year, with the organization going so far as to change where he was on the roster, moving him from catcher to player before the start of the season.

Mickey Gasper was a 27th-round New York Yankees draft pick out of Bryant University in 2018.

Mickey Gasper was a 27th-round New York Yankees draft pick out of Bryant University in 2018.

“I took a lot of reps this spring behind home plate,” he said. “I have the first goal in the repertoire, but I was mostly behind home plate. I think that’s how the Yankees found me a place here, bringing me here as an infielder. Right now I’d say I’m grabbing a bit more out of necessity…if any guys come back maybe I’ll go first but I tried to show my versatility to show I can do both and find my place in the range.

The team’s backup Open Day receiver, Rodolfo Duran, was just taken off the injured list on Thursday, and Breaux, the Opening Day starter, is likely not far behind. That versatility — the majority of Gasper’s professional experience has actually come at first base, despite not having played the position since 2019, not to mention he’s played a handful of games in the outfield at university – could very well be useful sooner rather than later.

“For a guy like me, where my bat is what keeps me in the lineup, it helps to be able to go to a different place so we can get somebody else to where the game is better,” said Gasper. “(That stretch playing behind the plate) means everything to me. Josh is one of my best friends in my life, so it hurts me to see him down, and I can’t wait for him to come back. But, if I’m in the lineup, I have to go out and compete. I can’t think of when anyone might come back or how the IL is going to shake things up.

“I can’t wait for him to be healthy and watch him swing him and catch him and come back here and compete with me. But I just want to keep trying to help my team win as best I can when my name is in alignment, and even when I am not in alignment.

This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: New York Yankees: Somerset Patriots receiver makes waves at Double-A

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