Ke’Bryan Hayes has had his eyes on the major leagues since he was a kid. After all, his dad Charlie Hayes played 14 years in his MLB career for seven different teams.
Ke’Bryan was drafted by the Pirates in the first round of the 2015 draft and was on the big stage in 2018 as a part of the Futures Game. He’s since gone from one of the top 50 prospects in baseball in 2019 to a top-10 talent in 2021.
Hayes graduated out of prospect status after his first two years in the majors and he continues to work to be a key part of Pittsburgh’s future.
The Pirates third baseman was a guest on the Audacy Original Podcast “Baseball Isn’t Boring” and talked about the pressures he’s faced as a top prospect and the advice he received from his dad to help put that into perspective.
“Because my dad played everyone always expected me to be a lot better than everyone,” Hayes said (32:05 in player above). “My dad, to me, he’s just a regular old dad. A lot of times I would forget he even played because I was four or whatever when he retired and stuff so I didn’t really get to see him play. I understand it, people may feel that way but for me, I just try to work hard every day. … For me, I don’t really try to put pressure on myself. I just try to be me, be Ke’Bryan.”
Hayes’s dad had a lengthy MLB career and his older brother played six years in the minors so he had plenty of experience around baseball. They helped him work hard and do things the right way.
Preparation is key for Hayes and he had an apt comparison that most can relate to.
“The work that I put in in the offseason and each day whenever I’m preparing for the game, I like to think of it as when you’re in school whenever you have a test you’re going to feel nervous or something for a test if you didn’t prepare for it,” he said. “At the end of the day, you can look yourself in the mirror and be like ‘Did I prepare the best to set myself up to be successful?’ At the end of the day, you can look in the mirror and know if you did or didn’t.”
There is a lot of pressure in sports, particularly in baseball. With all of the down time, players can get in their own heads sometimes. While some may not handle the pressure well, Hayes is able to put it into perspective thanks to some fatherly advice.
“Another thing my dad told me probably a year or two ago – I’m sure he heard it from somewhere too – he was saying pressure is whenever you don’t know where you’re going to sleep or whether you’re going to get your next meal,” he said. “So I’m fortunate enough to be able to play the game that I love every day and I’m able to sleep with a roof over my head and get a hot meal every day. At the end of the day, you just got to prepare the best you can and be confident in yourself each and every day because the guy on the other side, he’s doing that same thing. He’s trying to feed his family and stuff like that so you can’t really put too much pressure on yourself.”
Hayes is off to a rough start this season with just two hits in his first 20 at-bats through five games. There are still plenty of games to go, though, and it sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders to play up to his potential.