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Zach Kohn's hectic path to the New York Yankees


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Sophomore pitcher Zach Kohn throws against Kent State during the final game of the doubleheader on Keilitz Field on April 8.

After returning from Starkville, Mississippi, Zach Kohn had one objective: clean his apartment. 

Kohn, a right-handed pitcher for the Central Michigan baseball team, had just a few days to clean out his apartment before his lease ended. 

Similar to his career with the Chippewas, he enlisted help from his support system to get the job done. He had friends make their way to Mount Pleasant to help move everything out of the apartment and back to his hometown of Woodhaven. 

All the while, Kohn had his name in the MLB Entry Draft. He was frantically trying to move everything out of his apartment, but kept his phone attached to his hip at all times. 

On June 5, the last day he had to vacate the property, Kohn received a phone call from the New York Yankees.

"All I remember was sitting at the bottom of my stairs and the guy from the Yankees says, 'it's not a guarantee but we're thinking of grabbing you in the next couple of rounds," Kohn said. "Like five minutes later, they called me back." 

The Yankees took Kohn in the 21st round and the 645th pick overall. 

After the call ended, Kohn said he had a strange emotion come over him. 

"My buddies were staring at me because they didn't know what to do," Kohn said. "I just said, 'guys, I'm a Yankee!' We hugged, then they left to get a U-Haul. When I was by myself I just cried, it was the weirdest, greatest feeling ever." 

Kohn had a strong junior season at CMU. He went 5-3 with a 4.70 earned run average in 18 appearances and four starts. He struck out 47 and walked 20 in 44 innings pitched. 

The 2019 season for the Chippewas was highlighted by their 47-14 record and the first win in the NCAA Tournament over Miami (Florida) in the first round of the Starkville Regional. 

Kohn said the team had an astounding chemistry because the guys had fun in the dugout. 

Kohn was the catalyst of the fun and, according to most of the team members, was the first to crack a joke. He said that having fun with his teammates helped put him on track for a strong season. 

"Coaches told me that I was a different person in the dugout than I was on the mound and you can't do that," Kohn said. "So I said, 'you know what, I'm going to go out there and have some fun.' You'd see me talking to the dugout and they kept it fun for me and revived my last season (at CMU)." 

When Kohn graduated from O.A. Carlson High School in 2017, he was told by critics that he would not find success, that he would not pitch a meaningful game at CMU. 

He stuck to his guns, especially this season, and he was drafted by the Yankees. 

"Don't listen to what anybody says," Kohn said. "They've probably never been in your position in their life. You've got to stay the course and trust your abilities. People in high school told me I'd mess up or I'd never make it to college. I just did my thing; I chose my path. I didn't listen to anyone else and it all worked out." 

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