Basketball love fuels Yankees’ Middleton’s offseason

Keynan Middleton, player of the New York Yankees

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According to the New York Post, Keynan Middleton, eager to make a return to the Yankees’ bullpen next season, is presently occupied with his winter passion: coaching high school basketball. Middleton, the 30-year-old New York Yankees relief pitcher, is entering his fourth consecutive MLB free agency offseason, and while he hopes to rejoin the Yankees, he spends his winter months as the assistant varsity basketball coach at Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukie, Oregon.

Early basketball influence

Keynan Middleton, who pitches from February through September each year, dedicates his winter to coaching high school basketball, a sport he has a deep affection for. He has coached at his alma mater, Milwaukie High School, for nine offseasons, including three years as the head JV coach. This winter, he’s making the switch to Rex Putnam High School, the former high school of Scott Brosius.

During the last weekend of the regular baseball season, Middleton expressed his enthusiasm for this new coaching opportunity. He said, “I’m really excited about it. That was something that when I was in the minor leagues and I didn’t even know I was going to be a big leaguer, ever, that was my fallback plan. I love basketball. I love being in the game. If I can’t play, coach. That was my way of staying connected to the game, but also in the offseason, it’s a way of passing time. My family loves it, too. My daughters come with me to practice, my wife used to play — we played basketball together at the same school in college. We’re a basketball family, we really enjoy it.”

Middleton’s connection to basketball goes back to his college days at Lane Community College in Oregon, where he played both baseball and basketball. Although he initially started his baseball season late due to his basketball commitments, he was soon discovered by scouts during a bullpen session. This led to him being drafted by the Angels in 2013 and starting his professional baseball career, effectively ending his days as a basketball player. Nevertheless, he continued coaching basketball during his baseball offseasons, coaching his brother at Milwaukie and now planning to coach his godmother’s son at Rex Putnam.

Middleton is deeply motivated to guide and inspire the young athletes he coaches. He believes in the importance of teaching them the value of hard work and real dedication, providing them with valuable life lessons. He mentioned, “Being able to teach these kids what real hard work is, that’s the biggest thing for me.”

Reuniting with the Yankees?

Keynan Middleton, player of the New York Yankees

After an impressive season in the MLB, Middleton is hopeful that he’ll secure a major league contract during this offseason. He posted a 3.38 ERA across 50 ⅔ innings in 51 games with both the White Sox and Yankees, but he excelled with the Yankees, recording a 1.88 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 games and 14 ⅓ innings. Middleton is open to the possibility of reuniting with the Yankees and expressed his admiration for the team and the experience he had playing alongside their star players.

Looking forward to his baseball future, Middleton said, “Honestly, there’s not too many other places I’m looking at. After being here, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to be here. If it ends up working out, I’d love to come back here. But we’ll see what happens.”

In the meantime, Middleton’s passion for coaching basketball keeps him engaged during the offseason, and he aspires to continue pursuing this path even after his baseball career concludes.

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