Recently I interviewed RHP Tyler Pill, who the Mets drafted last June in the 4th round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. A right-hander, Pill is an advanced college pitcher from a major baseball program at Cal State-Fullerton. As a result, he is someone who projects as a fast-riser in the system, with good command, quality stuff, athleticism, and the ability to pitch deep into ball games. After signing late last summer Tyler only got into a handful of games with Brooklyn at the end of the season, but next year he should play a major role as a starter, probably in St. Lucie of the Florida State League. It was really nice of Tyler to answer some questions for our readers at MMO, as we get an interesting insight into one of our newest Mets pitching prospects. Read on to see what he had to say:
Petey: Hi Tyler, thanks for taking a little time out to talk to us at MetsMerizedOnline.com. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving holiday, how are things in sunny California? Are you enjoying your time off so far?
Tyler: Things in California are great right now. The time off so far has been really nice because I’ve been able to spend time with my family and friends.
Petey: When the Mets drafted you out of Cal State-Fullerton in the 4th round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft, how did you first hear about it, and what was that feeling like? Did you have any idea which round of the draft you might be taken in?
Tyler: Well my area scout called me a couple picks before the Mets had to pick again and basically said, hey listen up to the radio because we’re gonna be picking you next. The feeling was awesome, I was extremely excited with the whole process and how it went. I really didn’t have that much of an idea of which round I would be taken in but I thought I would be somewhere in the top 5 rounds.
Petey: Your brother Brett is also a baseball player who preceded you at Cal State-Fullerton, he was drafted by the Giants as an outfielder in the 2006 draft, and last season played with AAA Fresno. It must be cool having a brother following a similar path as your own. Was he an inspiration to you growing up? How was it helpful to have someone around that you could talk to about what you were going through as a player? Was anyone else, helpful or an inspiration to you as you chase your dream of getting to the “bigs” someday?
Tyler: Yes it is really cool. He and my father who played with the Pirates have definitely been an inspiration to me throughout my life. It’s always been very helpful listening to them talk and share their experiences and stories. They always have been giving me the heads up on what to expect in the minor leagues and what things will be like.
Petey: You were one of the top two-way college players in the draft last year. As a pitcher and also a switch-hitting outfielder, you played practically every day. Will it take some time to get used to devoting full time to pitching now? And will it be an adjustment for you going forward? At least if you reach the bigs as a Met, you will be able to hit, which should make you pretty happy, I would think?
Tyler: I pretty much have gotten used to it now because of the year I just finished up. It was hard at first but I know I’ll be able to hit again. I mean I’m always going to want to hit and will probably be in the cages now and then, haha! I heard in AA they let the pitchers hit so I’ll get there as soon as I can, so I can do both again.
Petey: We have heard that you throw several quality pitches, and have the stamina to pitch deep into games, but could you tell us a little more about your arsenal? What pitches you throw, and at what speeds? Which pitches are you most comfortable throwing, and which ones may need some more work?
Tyler: I throw a fastball which is about 89-93, a changeup, curveball, and a cutter. I’m not completely sure about the velocity on the off-speed pitches. I’m very comfortable throwing my fastball, curveball and changeup at any time but as far as my cutter, It still needs a little bit more work but it’s still a solid pitch.
Petey: Last year you signed late and then had a cup of coffee with Brooklyn, after a quick layover at St. Lucie in the GCL. What struck you as the biggest difference between major college baseball, and the New York Penn League? Is the pitching comparable? What about the hitters? Is it tough to adjust to the rigors of a professional schedule?
Tyler: Well most of the players in the New York Penn League were from this past years draft, so it was kind of the same as college only you had some other guys thrown in the mix. There were a ton of guys that I had either played with or against in college that were in the New York Penn League. As far as the schedule goes, it was tough at first because the regular college routine is to throw every seventh day, and now in the minor leagues and up it’s every fifth day. Now I’m used to it though and I like the routine because I’m on the mound more often.
Petey: What kind of things will you do to stay in shape over the winter? Can you describe your regimen? Did the Mets give you anything specific to work on?
Tyler: Right now I’m just trying to get bigger and stronger. I’m going to the gym and eating healthy every week. Yes the Met’s gave us all a specific work out plan that we are to follow according to our body type and build.
Petey: Do you have any preference between starting and relieving? Have the Mets indicated what their immediate plans were for you, or whether you would be given an opportunity to win a rotation spot somewhere this coming season?
Tyler: I personally would rather start because I love having more of an impact on the game than just an inning or two. They’ve told me I am going to be a starter and where I will be depends on how well I do in spring training.
Petey: Pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play this year at Brooklyn, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.
Tyler: The guy that really stood out to me was Travis Taijeron because one game he was putting them over the scoreboard and then the next game he hit one out to the opposite field. He didn’t catch my eye just because of the homeruns but in my opinion he was a good hitter.
Petey: What was your favorite baseball team growing up? Your favorite player? Is there anyone in the majors past, or present, that you think your pitching is similar to?
Tyler: It might sound weird but honestly I don’t have a favorite baseball team, I never really have. I can’t really explain it but I just never really got attached to any one team. As far as a player goes, I will say that my favorite player is Chase Utley. I just like the way he plays and the way he goes about things and how he carries himself. I have never really compared myself to any pitcher but people have told me my pitching is very similar to Chad Billingsley, and also Ian Kennedy.
Petey: And to finish up Tyler, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?
Tyler: My favorite movie would have to be The Dark Knight. I really don’t have a favorite band or musician but my favorite actor is Robert Downey Jr. My favorite food is steak and garlic mashed potatoes.
Petey: Thanks again Tyler, I really enjoyed doing this interview with you, and thanks again for taking the time out to answer some questions, the reader’s at MMO will love it! Take care, have a great holiday season, and we’re looking forward to seeing you on the “bump” next year!
Tyler: Thank You! Take care and have a great holiday season as well.
I hope you enjoyed reading what Tyler had to say, perhaps we can check back in with him during ST to find out how things are going. Next year should be a big one for Tyler as he gets an opportunity to take the baseball every fifth day. My projected St. Lucie rotation for next year looks pretty interesting with the likes of LHP Jack “The Rocket” Leathersich (5th rd, 2011 draft), and RHP’s Cory Mazzoni (2nd rd, 2011), Logan Verrett, (3rd rd, 2011), and, of course, Tyler Pill.