Tyler Wade is off to another strong start in 2016 and it's because he's not trying to do too much.

TRENTON, NJ - Every young baseball fan has someone they idolize, but usually his dreams of following in the footsteps of that icon are just that — a dream. For Tyler Wade, he not only had the chance to meet and pick the brain of Derek Jeter a few times, he still has the opportunity to fill the void the former captain left at shortstop.

A southern California native, Wade grew up in Dodgers country. But the New York Yankees were his team from day one.

“A big part of rooting for the [Yankees] had to do with Jeter,” Wade said. “He’s the ultimate role model. He taught me to stay level-headed and to play the game the right way.”

Now in New York’s second season without the legendary #2, the 21-year-old Wade is one of the gems in an organization with plenty of promising middle infielders.

He was claimed by the Yankees in the fourth-round of the 2013 draft and he immediately turned down a scholarship offer from San Diego State. He has since climbed the minor league ladder rather quickly.

After being drafted, Wade spent most of his first professional season playing in the Rookie League with the Gulf Coast Yankees, where his hitting improved dramatically. He completed his stint there hitting .307, with 50 hits and 12 RBI’s.

Wade said his journey through the organization he grew up rooting for has been a great learning experience.

“I was able to sit back and learn a lot from some of the guys who had been there longer than me,” he said. “I molded my game a little bit and I think it has helped over the couple of years I’ve been around here.”

In 2014, the 6-foot-1 middle infielder spent the entire season with the Single-A Charleston RiverDogs and started to turn some heads. Along with being a reliable man at the shortstop position, he started to really find his own at the plate. In 129 games, he hit .272 with 51 RBI’s and a homer. His impressive play would send him to high-A Tampa at the age of 20 for the start of the 2015 season and he finished his time there hitting .280 with two home runs and 31 stolen bases..

He was then promoted to Double-A Trenton late last sason.  Although his first stint with the Thunder didn’t last very long, he was able to set the groundwork with the team he currently plays for. In 29 games, he hit .204 with 3 RBI’s.

Wade said his first go-around with Trenton and then-manager Al Pedrique proved to be a big help for him now.

“It was just another great learning experience for me,” he said. “I was surrounded by great people and I’m happy to be back.”

Trenton hitting coach P.J. Pilittere said he’s seen improvements in the young shortstop over the course of the year.

“When you’re that young, there’s definitely lots of room for improvement at the plate,” he said. “Tyler has made some minor adjustments and he’s a much more confident hitter now who can use the whole field.”

Back with Trenton for 2016, Wade’s batting average was well above .300 through the first 14 games. After a little bit of a slow stretch, his average is now down to .250, but he’s putting the ball in play. He’s also been a lot more patient, with 14 walks to only ten strikeouts.

Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell talked about how impressed he’s been with Wade.

“He’s been great,” he said. “He’s a great lead-off guy with a lot of patience at the plate. He has a lot of speed and he’s learning how to steal bases now. We’ve been emphasizing the base running aspect of the game with guys like him and it’s been working for us.”

As Wade learns the know-how in the base paths, he’s managed three stolen bases on the year in four attempts.

He said his small-ball approach this year has really paid off for him.

“I was trying to do a little too much last season [with Trenton],” Wade said. “I’m just staying true to myself so far and I think I’m doing a good job of being consistent.”

As for his manager, he feels Wade has a lot of potential to stay in the mix for the coveted shortstop position in the Bronx.

“He works really hard, which is a big part of it,” Mitchell said. “The preparation he’s been doing has been really great. We talk about guys with potential a lot, but sometimes they don’t live up to the label we put on them. I think Tyler is taking the game seriously enough to really achieve his goals.”

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