Tyler Webb: Story and Interview
Growing up in the small town of Nassawadox on the eastern shore of Virginia, Tyler Webb starred on the baseball diamond at Northampton High School. Although he went undrafted out of high school, Webb picked up an offer to the University of South Carolina and decided that he would further his education and his baseball career in Columbia, South Carolina.
As a freshman, Webb split time between the bullpen and the starting rotation. Over the course of his 17 appearances he threw 36.1 innings and averaged a strike out per inning. Webb continued in his role as staff swingman as a sophomore and appeared in 22 games. Working the same amount of innings as his freshman year he improved his ERA to 3.00 but saw his WHIP increase from 1.16 to 1.42.
Webb was considered to be draft eligible following his sophomore campaign and was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 48th round of the 2011 draft. Webb bypassed the chance to turn pro and instead opted to continue to hone his game at South Carolina.
As a junior, the Gamecock’s staff moved Webb full-time into the bullpen. Webb was stellar making the permanent transition to the pen. In 39 appearances, Webb pitched 57.2 innings and struck out 58. He lowered his ERA to 1.56 and his WHIP to 1.08. Even though he put up impressive numbers he was bypassed in the early rounds of the draft and Webb made up his mind he would return to South Carolina.
Webb was appointed team closer during his senior season. He appeared in 32 games and saved 17 games for the Gamecocks. He continued to lower his ERA to 1.47 and maintained his WHIP at 1.09. Over the course of his four years, Webb pitched in 173 innings and only allowed seven home runs with six coming in his freshman year. He did not allow an opposing batter to take him out of the park in his final two years pitching exclusively out of the bullpen.
Entering the 2013 draft as a senior, the New York Yankees selected Webb in the 10th round of the amateur draft. Once considered a pick to save a few dollars under their draft cap, Webb would soon prove to critics that he was indeed a prospect who could make an impact for one of the most storied franchises in the game.
After quickly signing with the Yankees, Webb was assigned to Staten Island in the New York – Pennsylvania league. After just four hit-less appearances which included eight strikeouts the Yankees quickly promoted Webb to Charleston, South Carolina where he joined the River Dogs in the South Atlantic League. In 30.1 innings of work over 16 appearances, Webb accumulated 40 strikeouts and finished with a WHIP of just 0.99.
The Yankees promoted Webb to Advanced-A Tampa Bay to start the 2014 season. Like his first season he only needed eight appearances to quickly earn a promotion. He picked up four saves and only allowed eight base runners in his 13 innings of work. The Yankees aggressive promotions of Webb challenged the left hander but so far he was proving he was up to the task.
After being promoted to the Trenton Thunder in the Eastern League, Webb began to settle in. He appeared in 23 games and pitched a total of 35.2 innings striking out an impressive 51 batters. He earned Eastern League All-Star honors during his time and Trenton and then earned yet another promotion up to Scranton at the AAA level.
Webb picked up where he left off with Trenton appearing in 20 innings covering an additional 17 games. Webb struck out 26 and picked up one save. Webb earned saves at every level the Yankees assigned him during his short professional career.
The Yankees made Webb a spring training invitee to start the 2015 season and the big 6’6, 225 pound lefty earned some valuable experience from his time in big league camp. Webb features a deceptive delivery that makes his 90-92 MPH fastball seem faster than it really is. He compliments it with a change-up and a developing slider that he hopes can turn into a strike out pitch.
Its early on in the 2015 season but Webb is off to a great start back with the Scranton Railriders. In 12 innings of work he has only allowed one earned run and is striking out about one per inning. It could be only a matter of time until Webb receives the call and will be coming out of the bullpen at Yankee Stadium.
Seven Questions with Tyler Webb
1. You were selected in the MLB draft on two different occasions. Take us back to each of those draft days and tell us a bit about each day and how you found out you were selected.
The first time I got drafted I was a draft eligible sophomore. I had a decent year but I wasn’t expecting too much. I was following the draft just to see what would happen and during day three I grew tired of watching the computer. I left and went out by myself and then I had a couple of buddies start texting me saying congratulations and telling me I got drafted. It was kinda cool but it was very late in the draft. I was on some National Championship winning teams and decided that it would be better just to go back to school for my junior year.
The second time I was drafted, I think we were in North Carolina at the super regional and I was out to eat with my family and a couple of my friends and I got the news I was drafted. It was cool to have my parents and a couple close friends with me when I got the news. It was a good experience.
2. You had a great college career at South Carolina and were a part of some National Champion winning teams. What was it like to be apart of a championship winning team?
It was awesome. We had a really good group of guys and to do it both my freshman and sophomore year I kind of didn’t know any different. I was a bit spoiled you could say. My junior year we went back and played for the National Championship. I came to think this is just what you do you play the college season and then its off to the college world series and see what happens. It was really a great experience though because we really had a great group of guys who made it really fun.
3. Since starting your professional career you have moved fast through the Yankees organization. Which level of baseball has been the hardest for you to transition to at the pro-level?
I would say AA was a pretty hard transition just because there are a lot of prospects there and also some really good hitters that are trying to polish their game. I threw some pitches in AA that I felt were really good and hitters were able to hit them out. It was a growing experience for me but once I got into a groove and figured out how to pitch a little better. The AAA level was a growing experience as well, there are some really good hitters at that level, if you make a mistake there they are going to jump on it and make you pay. In AA there is some raw talent but in AAA most of the people in the line up are really close to making it to the majors or have already been there before.
4. In 2014 you worked you way quickly through three different levels of the Yankees organization and were honored at the AA level by being selected to represent Trenton in the AA All-Star Game. Can you share about that experience with us and what it meant to be selected?
It was really cool – I wasn’t selected right off the bat but I was an alternate. My roommate Matt Tracy threw the day before so he was unable to pitch in the All-Star game so they asked me to go and I immediately said of course! We got to go and I knew him there and Ben Gamel was also there. We had a nice group of guys as well as our coaching staff since they won a championship the year before. It was a great experience to be at the All-Star game and knowing all the coaches just made it extremely comfortable. I also had my old college roommate Christian Walker there, he was on the opposing team but I got to hang out with him a little bit. When I was heading to the All-Star game they also told me to pack my bags and that I wasn’t coming back to Trenton. Once the break was over I was going to be going to AAA so it was a really good weekend for me.
5. On the mound, what pitches do you throw, and can you share with us a little bit about your delivery and approach on the mound?
I throw a fastball, change-up and slider. As a reliever I just work out of the stretch so no wind up. I have pretty simple mechanics and try to pitch of my fastball. My change-up is my second best pitch as I continue to work on my slider to get it to be as good as my change-up so I can throw either one anytime I need them. I am just waiting for the slider to catch up to the change-up. I’ve made good progress over the last year and worked with a bunch of different pitching coaches over the past year.
6. Is there a particular coach or instructor along the way in your career that has helped you get to this point in your career?
I would say very early on it would definitely be my dad. He pitched a little bit in college and he was left-handed so he helped a lot building a solid foundation when I was younger. I also had a pitching coach I went to in the middle school and high school years named Jamie Evans who actually works with the Blue Jays now. He was a big help with mechanics and learning off-speed pitches. He got me hooked up with different travel teams which allowed me to get exposure for college. He really set the bar with everything that has happened from then on. In college I had two great pitching coaches and in pro-ball I pretty much have seen every pitching coach the Yankees have in a short period of time. They have all been great and got to pick everyone’s brain. Each coach brings a little something different to the table so I just tried to get information from each of them and try to use their knowledge in my favor.
7. Prior to the 2015 season the Yankees invited you to big league camp for spring training. How did it feel when you got the news and what did you learn and experience from your time in spring training this year?
The Yankees had hinted to me that barring any extreme circumstances that I would be going to big league camp but you always have a little doubt that maybe it won’t happen. I finally got the call I was going and when to show up, I was grateful that I got the opportunity and to be around all those guys who have done it and been there before and to be able to pick their brains. The biggest thing was getting over the shock of being there and trying not to do too much. In my first couple I tried to be this perfect pitcher and got away from my strengths but I feel by the end I was pitching better. It was a great learning experience and I would much rather learn that in spring training than have to learn it if I am fortunate enough to get called up.
A Few For Fun
1. Who was your favorite player growing up and why?
Roger Clemens – I liked the way he pitched, he just went right after guys. He went on the mound saying here it is if you can hit it – I just like the way he went about his business. I also really enjoyed watching the big three in Atlanta (Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz). We got a lot of Atlanta games on TBS when I was growing up so they were fun to watch, I like the way they pitched.
2. What is currently the most memorable moment of your professional career?
Making my debut would be. I have never been to a major league game as a fan so hopefully my first time going to a major league game will actually be my first time playing in a major league game. It would be pretty cool, I would have my parents and my wife there to see the game it would be just awesome. I didn’t realize all this could happen until I got to college and then I began to realize just how close I am.
3. Many bullpen guys are often labeled team pranksters in baseball. Who is the biggest prankster you have come across in your time with the Yankees?
I would have to say Aaron Dott or Pat Venditte, nothing too serious but plenty of bullpen humor and a prank here and there.
A big thank you to Tyler Webb for taking some time out of his busy in season schedule to talk to us. We look forward to following him all season long and into the future. Please remember to give him a follow on twitter @twebb38 and like Chasing MLB Dreams on Facebook and follow us on twitter @CTD_Sypien as we continue to feature and follow all of our featured players as they chase their way to the major leagues.
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