NESN and Berkshire Bank celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month — honoring the impact, influence and achievements of the Asian community in sports.
Jeremy Wu-Yelland was a bit of a surprise pick for the Boston Red Sox when they drafted him in the fourth round (No. 118 overall) in 2020. But the pitching prospect has proven himself in his short time in the system.
But the 22-year-old promised he would return to the field soon, an outlook that would surprise no one who is familiar with his story.
In an interview with NESN’s Tom Caron in March during Spring training, Wu-Yelland explained how his family and his Asian American heritage motivate him to succeed in Major League Baseball.
Wu-Yelland, whose maternal side of the family is Chinese, has a tattoo of his Chinese name — “Light Of The Sun In The Morning” — on his right arm.
“I was the first son in the family in two or three generations,” Wu-Yelland told Caron in a video that will air later this month. “Just the way that the culture is over there, sons take on the family, they take care of people. They provide. And I’m happy to take on that challenge. Part of that goes into my name. The sun had risen and the night was over.”
The southpaw said he is proud to represent his culture through sport.
“It’s something I take a lot of pride in,” Wu-Yelland told Caron. “Especially being in a game like this, I’m not Chinese-born, but there’s not a lot of Chinese players. Kind of blazing that trail a little bit is something that’s special to me.”
A native of Seattle, Wu-Yelland grew up in Spokane, Wash. While he admitted to Caron that he always knew he was talented, he did not seriously hone in on pitching as his potential ticket to the big leagues until his junior year in high school. Doing so led him to the University of Hawaii for a collegiate career that ended after three seasons, when the Red Sox came calling.
“It was a surreal moment honestly,” Wu-Yelland remembered of his draft day. “I spent that whole day kind of wondering how things were going to go over and what it was going to be like. Get a little stressed out, emotional, things like that. I found out the Red Sox were taking me and it was a surreal moment honestly.”
Wu-Yelland spent 2021 with Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville, making a combined total of 23 starts. He was assigned to begin the 2022 campaign in Greenville. While his development now will be stalled as he works his way through recovery, his lethal fastball and slider have the potential to make him a solid contributor at the major league level.