Lidge prepares to begin career with Yankees

Catcher has strong family connection to Majors

June 14th, 2017
Ryan Lidge said that he takes pride in developing relationships with his pitchers. (University of Notre Dame)

NEW YORK -- Ryan Lidge recalls leaping off his living room couch and celebrating with his family after his cousin, Brad, threw the final strike of the 2008 World Series. The catching prospect hopes to make his mark on the other end of those 60 feet and six inches.

Lidge heard his name called by the Yankees on the third and final day of the 2017 Draft on Wednesday, selected in the 20th round out of the University of Notre Dame. He said that it helped his development to have a connection to the big leagues just a phone call or text message away.

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"He taught me the way I should go about my business as a professional baseball player in college," Lidge said. "I'm really thankful to have a cousin like that who could really help me. Not many people have that kind of resource."

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A two-time All-Star, Brad also attended Notre Dame before an 11-year Major League career with the Astros, Phillies and Nationals. Growing up in Arlington Heights, Ill., Lidge said that he traded in his Cubs garb for whatever team Brad was pitching for.

Now the script can be flipped, as Lidge prepares to begin his pro career. He said that he intends to sign and fly to Tampa, Fla., later this week, where the fruits of the Yankees' pitching-heavy Draft will put Lidge to work on the back diamonds of the player development complex.

"I'm speechless, honestly. It's pretty cool," Lidge said. "I wasn't the biggest Yankees fan growing up, but it's hard not to respect that organization. All those championships and all those Hall of Fame players that have come through there, to hear my name with the Yankees is a dream come true."

Reputed as a strong defender, Lidge said that he takes pride in developing relationships with his pitchers as well as sharpening his throwing, blocking and pitch framing. The switch-hitter batted .215 (42-for-195) with 10 doubles, two triples, a homer and 31 RBIs as a senior, playing in all 58 of Notre Dame's games and starting 57 of them.

"Once I got to college, you learn your true responsibility as a catcher," Lidge said. "You might have three or four at-bats in a game, but you're going to catch around 150 or 200 pitches a game. That's where you're needed most, and that's really what I learned through college."

Lidge was previously drafted by the Red Sox in the 40th round of the 2013 Draft, and while it was mildly tempting to go pro out of high school, he is satisfied that he made the right choice to attend Notre Dame.

"You only get one chance at college," Lidge said. "I played four years there. No regrets. It was an incredible experience. It's pretty cool to say that I'm a professional baseball player in the New York Yankees' organization."