RVA Return: Catching up with Kyle Haynes in his return to The Diamond with the Trenton Thunder

There's no place like home, and for former VCU pitcher Kyle Haynes returning to The Diamond for the first time since finishing his career with the Black & Gold was no different.

This week, Haynes returned to the same ball park he spent threes seasons at while with VCU. The former Ram is currently pitching for the Trenton Thunder, the Double A affiliate of the New York Yankees, who are in the middle of a series with the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

"It hasn't changed a whole lot," Haynes laughed. "I have a lot of good memories here so it's been a lot of fun, especially having friends and family here.  

During the Thunder's four-game swing in the River City, Haynes, who hails from Stafford, Va., has had the chance to catch up with friends from his hometown, VCU head coach Shawn Stiffler, along with several of the current VCU Baseball players, who are still in the area.

As Haynes remembered his time at The Diamond, the most vivid memory he has was the hard work the team put in from workouts to shoveling snow.

"There's not really a certain game that sticks out, but I think one of the biggest memories I have here is shoveling snow off the field trying to get ready for one of our opening series," he said. "Some of the things that we had to do at VCU that some of the other programs didn't have to do, and just how hard we worked – we worked for everything that we had – which is why I think VCU did what they did this year. We always worked hard, and that's always one thing that I'll always have."

He was able to watch all of the Dallas Regional as the Rams made history winning the program's first-ever NCAA Regional title against Dallas Baptist. 

"That was awesome! It was a great run by them," Haynes said. "Unfortunately I didn't get to watch any of the Super Regional because we were playing, but I couldn't have been happier for them. I know how hard they work, and they just got hot at the right time. Their senior leadership, were freshmen when I was a junior, so to watch those guys come through on their way out of their senior year to win that Regional was awesome."

Haynes pitched for the Rams from 2010-12, making 43 appearances, starting 41 of those. He finished his career with a 4.34 ERA and a record of 13-14. After three successful seasons with the Rams, he was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 20th round of the 2012 MLB Draft. He spent his first season in the minors with the State College Spikes in Single A Short Season where he finished with a 3-2 record and made 21 appearances all in relief. The following year, the right-hander played for the West Virginia Power in Single A Full Season where he made eight starts before being traded to the New York Yankees organization in the offseason. 

"It's been great so far. I like the Yankees organization, it's a very professional organization and they will do anything to help you out and reach your goals," he said.

After owning a 5-5 record following 39 appearances out of the bullpen for the Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League, was selected as one of eight Yankee minor leaguers to play in the 2014 Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

This season he has made 21 appearances for Trenton, and recently moved into the starting rotation for the Thunder. The right-hander has five starts thus far with his last coming prior to the team's trip to the River City on Tuesday night, Haynes earned the nod against the Bowie Baysox.

"As far as moving to a starter, I started here at VCU for three years so I'm comfortable as a starter," said Haynes. "There have been a couple challenges such as building up my endurance, and get back into that starting role, but other than that it's been fun."

Unfortunately Haynes will not pitch against the Flying Squirrels, but his next start is slated for Saturday when the Thunder return home to play the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.