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Josh VanMeter credits baseball in Fort Wayne as a catalyst for his success as a professional

Today, actual baseball is being played. Major League Baseball Spring Training is officially underway, and Fort Wayne’s own Josh VanMeter is preparing for a season on a Minor League deal with the New York Yankees. He may begin the season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A), but he is optimistic to earn a bench role on the Yankees this season. I was able to catch up with VanMeter for a chat immediately following practice down in Tampa, Florida.

Before being selected in the 5th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres, VanMeter says the interest from MLB teams’ kind of came unprecedented. 

“I tell everybody, I was never the highest touted prospect. In 2019, things just kind of clicked and I finally got my shot,” says VanMeter. 

Much of his approach to the game stems from his time growing up playing for Elmhurst Little League in Fort Wayne until he was 11 years old. “A lot of good players came from that program. I played there, Zach McKinstry (Detroit Tigers) played there, Alex McKinstry. Tons of great players,” says VanMeter.

He also credits his mindset to the game to his time with the Summit City Sluggers program. 

“I had a lot of really good coaches that weren’t always my dad. My dad coached me until I was 14. That’s kind of when my career took off. I had a different voice. My dad taught me everything I know, but having a different voice helped me. Just to have a separate voice, pushing you and challenging you. It’s good for you to be challenged and to fight through adversity.”

At the age of 28, VanMeter has spent time in the big leagues with the Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Pittsburgh Pirates. He hopes to add the Yankees to that list this season. As a player that didn’t appear on any draft boards, to being selected in the 5th Round, he has done quite well for himself in his career.

“The whole draft thing for me, man, came out of nowhere, I went from not being on any draft boards to being a 5th rounder in like three events essentially, I went to three Perfect Game showcases, and I went to the Super 60 showcase in Chicago and that was it.”

VanMeter joins DC Hendrix from Spring Training

While we reflected on his hot run coming out of high school, we had to revisit some of the tough teams in the Fort Wayne area that helped shape his competitive spirit. 

“We always had great teams at Norwell. But we never beat Carroll. In my four years of high school. Even when we won the state championship my senior year in 2013, we didn’t beat them. Drue Tranquil was a great baseball player at Carroll at that time. I also remember going against Will Coursen-Carr at South Side, and he was one of the most dominant pitchers at that time. Andrew Saalfrank was another great player I remember. A lot of my memories of playing baseball are back in high school. Grinding with my boys, it remains the glory days for me.”

As we looked back, he is also motivated looking ahead to this upcoming season in the Yankees organization. 

“I feel good. I am just trying to attack every day and put myself in a position to get better. They showed a lot of interest last year going into the off-season. They were one of the first teams that made contact to sign me. I feel like I’ve got a good opportunity to snag a bench spot, depending on how I do this Spring. The Yankees are the standard in MLB. You’re held to a different standard as a Yankee. I’m just going to try to control what I can control and go from there.”

VanMeter continues to make the city of Fort Wayne and surrounding areas proud with his approach to life and the game of baseball. He brings much-needed versatility to the Yankees' depth. Especially, since he can play second base and the corner outfield spots. He has not appeared in the majors since the 2022 season with the Pirates. That was his best season in the majors, where he finished with a .292 batting average, hit three home runs, and 14 RBIs in 67 games.


Dedrick Hendrix is a contributor to Old Baseball Co. As a Fort Wayne native, he grew up playing in Elmhurst Little League, Wildcat Baseball, and two years at South Side High School. He is also a baseball writer for Just Baseball and Fansided.


Top Photo Credit: By All-Pro Reels from District of Columbia, USA - from Nationals vs. Mets at Nationals Park, September 27th, 2020 (All-Pro Reels Photography), CC BY-SA 2.0,


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