I will be running a new interview with one of the best MLB draft prospects 2011 has to offer each Wednesday up until June, and you can click here to find an up to date archive of them all.
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Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are your height and weight still 6’4”, 200 lbs?
Tyler Beede: Yep, that’s exactly right.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you always been a big guy, or did you hit a sudden growth spurt?
Tyler Beede: Sophomore year was when I started working out really, and I was around 6’2”, 165 lbs then. The weight came on quick because I was a tall guy and had room to fill out, so it was just a matter of getting in the weight room and eating the right foods, but I definitely had to work on my weight; it didn’t come naturally.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you play any other sports besides baseball?
Tyler Beede: Right now I play football and baseball, but I played all the sports growing up – hockey when I was seven, soccer, and then football, basketball, and baseball were kind of my main sports. Freshman year I played all three, but then I had to give up basketball because it runs into baseball and I’d lose time to workout and get myself ready for the season. So right now it’s just football and baseball. I love football, and I was thinking about maybe walking on at Vanderbilt or something because I love it that much and would love to play at the next level, but baseball was the road I chose.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What position did you play on the gridiron?
Tyler Beede: I did a lot of cornerback, wide receiver, and played some quarterback as well. I also played some special teams as the longsnapper.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Wow, that is pretty impressive to be playing cornerback at your size.
Tyler Beede: [laughs] Yeah, I’m kind of fast for my size – I’m definitely not the slowest. I’m about in the middle.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When I interview guys that are still playing football despite having a very bright baseball future, it’s usually the guys from the midwest and Texas. Northeasterners almost always drop football to focus on baseball. Why are you different in that regard?
Tyler Beede: Yeah. Well, I transferred my sophomore year to the prep school I’m at now and didn’t play the year I came in; it was a new school and I just wanted to get my feet wet academically and not have to struggle. It is a tremendous team here – we made some national news when an opponent forfeited against us this year – with five Division-1 guys signed from the squad. We won the league, it was just a fun time, and I wanted to experience all of that with the guys. I knew I loved football, so getting back into it for one more year before I went to college would have been a fun memory, so I knew I had to do it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When did you first realize that you could potentially do something with baseball on a serious level? Little League? High School?
Tyler Beede: Tough question. The first time I realized that I might have that Division-1 talent was when I played with other guys that were already in that category. In Little League baseball, and even high school baseball, it’s tough to measure your talents against other kids - in little League some kids throw harder or stand out more simply because they mature faster, and in high school the competition level can be very different. For me it was probably one of my first showcases my freshman summer, playing in the Team USA trials out in Arizona. I happened to pitch a complete game against one of the better teams and it kind of hit me that I have the ability – my dad always told me it was my gift. I realized that if I kept working at it and kept building the craft, that I could one day be a Division-1 baseball player, and it actually came to be.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Speaking of your dad, he was drafted and played in the minors, correct?
Tyler Beede: Yep! Drafted in ’81 by the Cubs in the 13th round or somewhere around there, and played for a few years before hurting himself; he tore his rotator cuff. He enjoyed the experience and everything that came with the draft process, so he’s a very knowledgeable man for me to get information from. He loves baseball, he lives for it, and it’s pretty much all he does every day.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Was he a pitcher as well?
Tyler Beede: He was actually a first baseman and catcher, and he could hit – he could put it out of the park easy.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you remember the first time you hit 90 MPH?
Tyler Beede: Actually I do. It was sophomore summer right before I went up to the Area Code Games, and I remember I was struggling with it because I could never hit 90 MPH; I was hitting 89 MPH at every showcase I went to. I went to this Under-Armour showcase in Pennsylvania and it just boosted up. I hit 90 MPH five times, 92 MPH once, and I didn’t believe it because I thought the guns were juiced, but it ended up being true because I then went up to Area Codes and did the same thing there. It took some time to get up to 90 MPH, but it was a good feeling when I hit it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Venderbilt is a great academic school and everybody loves Coach Corbin, but what was it specifically that drew you to them?
Tyler Beede: Coach Corbin was definitely a key guy in my decision. He just makes you feel at home and he’s like a second father on campus, so it’s great to have that kind of person down there to watch over you and make sure you’re doing the right things. Another main reason was academics because I know I’m not going to play baseball forever, so to have that Vanderbilt degree to fall back on after baseball is important. The academics at Vanderbilt are very prestigious, so not only do they have a great baseball program, but they have the all-around package with the education, too. The campus itself gave me a very comfortable feeling, so I felt very confident choosing Vanderbilt.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: On the flip side, how much do you think about the draft? Almost everyone says it is difficult to not think about it, but what has your experience been like?
Tyler Beede: Man. Like you said, it’s tough not to think about it. Being a 17 year old kid it’s a lot to look forward to with the draft and college, and it’s obviously going to be a big decision, so you’ve got to think about it a little bit. It will be a tough decision when the time comes, but right now college is the only thing that I have guaranteed and I’m looking forward to it a lot; it’s going to be a fun time. If the draft presents a great opportunity I’m going to have to consider it, weigh out each opportunity with my family, and make a decision. I’m always thinking about the draft, and I’m also always thinking about college, and it will be a “gametime decision” whenever it happens.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you do allow yourself to dream about playing professional baseball, whether it’s out of high school or out of college, what is the image you get in your mind?
Tyler Beede: Oh man. I think about working all these years and going to all the showcases and stuff just to get to that one draft day when your name is in lights alongside the best players in the country. To go on the first day, maybe in the top 50 guys, would be a special thing, and when I go to sleep I try to visualize my name up there in that top 50. It’s a cool image – Bud Selig saying your name early on – and that’s what I picture when I dream.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many teams have you heard from?
Tyler Beede: I’ve had all of my meetings, which is about 27, and a few teams just haven’t come by. So I’ve gotten all the meetings out of the way, filled out all the paperwork, questionnaires, personality test, and all that stuff they throw at you.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I know you will probably hate me for this, but are the Yankees one of the teams that you met with?
Tyler Beede: Oh yeah, Matt Hyde is the area scout over here and he’s great guy. With the Area Code team I obviously played for the Yankees and he’s been the guy that runs the Area Codes and East Coast Pro. Because of that I’ve always been wearing a Yankees hat to all of these showcases, and it’s a funny thing because I’ve always been kind of a Red Sox fan growing up in Boston. Over the years that has kind of fizzled away and I’m hanging on the fence between Boston and New York, which is kind of a weird place to be, but I’ve enjoyed wearing the Yankees cap and it would definitely be an amazing thing to wear it professionally.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Can you give me a detailed description of your arsenal?
Tyler Beede: Sure. I start with the four-seam fastball which I throw from a three-quarters armslot, so I get a lot of run and sink on it. People always think it’s a two-seam, but I never really throw a two-seam because my four-seam gets natural sinking action. It usually sits around 88-92 MPH, can get up to 94-95 MPH, and I can go up and down with it to place it where I want. My changeup is probably my favorite pitch to throw and could be one of my best pitches. It’s a modified circle change that I use a unique grip on and I feel like I can throw it in any count; it’s just that type of “feel” pitch for me that I’ve been able to develop over the years. It’s about 10-12 MPH slower than the fastball, probably about 78-80 MPH. So the changeup is my strongest secondary pitch, and then I also throw a curveball which has been needing some work, but this offseason I’ve put that time into building it up and it’s really sharp now. It gets a 12-to-6 break and when I want to I can kind of roll it in there and get a 1-to-7 break, so the curveball is showing strong now and looking tight. It comes in around 76-78 MPH.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you go away from the fastball for the big strikeout, it sounds like you are throwing the change, is that correct?
Tyler Beede: Definitely.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Is it a straight change, or does it get any action?
Tyler Beede: It ranges. Sometimes it looks like a lefty curveball which is weird, sometimes it looks like a 12-to-6 curveball, and sometimes it just stops. It really depends how I move my hand around the ball and I’ll vary that depending on the count and the hitter. It’s a unique pitch for me, and it’s made me a better pitcher.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What would someone who came to watch one of your games see in terms of your outward personality on the mound? If the range was from Mariano Rivera’s coolness to Josh Beckett’s excitement, where would you fall?
Tyler Beede: I’m definitely more towards Mariano Rivera’s calm look. I’ve always written two words in my hat: poised and composed. That reminds me to stay calm on the mound and not let anybody affect me. If there’s a big strikeout at the end of the game or to stop a big inning, maybe I’ll give a little fist pump or something, but nothing big. I’m not going to show up the other team, throw at batters, or anything that crazy. I’m definitely calm on the mound and I don’t let anything bother me.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Getting back to the Majors, it sounds like you grew up a Sox fan in Boston, but due to your playing for the Yankees Area Code team you have a little less hatred for them than you may have in the past. Would that be fair to describe your fandom at this point?
Tyler Beede: [laughs] Yeah, definitely. I really don’t have a favorite team right now because when you head into a situation like the draft it’s difficult to say you like the Red Sox, Yankees, or any other team more than another. I don’t really hate the Yankees or anything like that. My dad’s a die-hard Red Sox fan though, so if I got taken by the Yankees it would be tough for him to put on some pinstripes, but I’m sure he’d figure it out.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much flak would you catch from your boys if that happened?
Tyler Beede: [laughs] It’s funny talking about it because they all tell me things like “if you get drafted, just make sure it’s not by the Yankees,” so that makes me laugh. They say they’d be mad, but I don’t think they’d be that mad at me.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the Major Leaguers you look up to for their stuff or the way they play the game?
Tyler Beede: Clay Buchholz. He’s one of my favorite guys to watch because he battles with all his pitches and I’ve kind of got a similar changeup to him. It’s cool to watch him so I can compare what he has to myself, and see how he battles on the mound as a young guy in the big leagues. I used to always try and throw like Josh Beckett, the way he is on the mound, his hip rotation, and his mechanics. He’s a tremendous pitcher that I’ve always tried to mold myself after. Cliff Lee is another guy because he doesn’t have the best fastball or best overall stuff, but he gives it his all and throws complete games almost every time he pitches. He just finds a way to get the win for the team, and I like those pitchers that can just battle out there with a low 90s fastball and the ability to paint corners.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal one pitch from anyone else in your draft class, whose would it be and why?
Tyler Beede: I’m going to have to go with a guy from my area, Johnny Magliozzi. He’s got one of the best curveballs I’ve ever seen. I actually had to face him in high school and try to hit off that curveball, and he can do so many things with it. He can roll it in there for a strike, and then follow it up with one at 84-85 MPH right over the plate and just buckle your knees. He’s got a hammer curve and I’d love to have that in my arsenal to go along with the fastball and changeup I already have.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who is the toughest hitter you’ve faced so far?
Tyler Beede: Oh man, that’s tough, there’s so many guys from around the country that I’ve faced who are just tremendous hitters. One guy that I could just never get a ball by – even a changeup – was Blake Swihart out at the Area Codes and Team USA trials. Man, he’s got great batspeed, he can just see the ball so well, and has a great approach up there that allows him to adjust to anything. He was hitting laser beams off me at the Area Codes, and luckily they were hit to outfielders, but he’s going to be a great hitter wherever he goes next. He was by far the best.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Now that you have become one of the top high school pitchers in the nation, what one thing are you working on this year specifically to try and get even better?
Tyler Beede: Yeah, I mean you’ve always got to work on everything; you can’t just focus on only one thing, but this offseason I’ve tried to work on staying over my back leg longer, and also did work with my hip rotation. I’ve also recently started going over my head with a Curt Schilling-type windup, and it’s helped me stay back a lot longer, ride over my back leg, and pick up some more velocity and work downhill. Working on small things and breaking down video is really big for me because visual learning is what helps me the most.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If Ty is not at the baseball field, Ty is…
Tyler Beede: In my room working on my raps. I love music and its grown on me over the years. I started writing poetry kind of things, then built it into rhymes, and now I’ve started singing and rapping a little bit. It’s been a fun thing for me and it allows me to vent and get things off my back by putting them into songs. So that’s usually what I’m doing on my spare time, it’s a bit weird and unexpected, but I enjoy it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Biggie or Tupac?
Tyler Beede: I’m going to have to go with Biggie, the east coast guy!
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your favorite hip-hop track?
Tyler Beede: Well, before a game I’ll throw on a hip-hop song that just gets me going, and most of the time it’s an instrumental beat, like the Mozart Requiem for a Dream mix – just a good beat that can get me excited for a game. I also like Drake, he’s the guy I listen to because I can really relate to his style of writing about true-life situations.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being 17 years old, how do you deal with having a different career path than all your friends at the moment? How do you balance that pressure with just trying to be a normal high school teenager, when you clearly don’t have normal opportunities in front of you?
Tyler Beede: That’s a great question. I’ve always kind of had a level head and never really let things get to me. I’ve always had the mindset that I’m just an average kid and have to keep working hard because nothing’s ever been handed to me. It’s actually been kind of a shock for me that I’m in this situation, that I’ve gotten accepted into a great college, and that I have the opportunity of the draft in front of me. I know I have to keep working hard every day to get better and better, and I know it’s never going to be enough. I guess that’s my answer: I know it’s never going to be enough for me, and I have to keep working towards new dreams and goals that I set every day.