One day not too long ago, I was thinking back to a footnote on a transactions page from early May that I saw and it was still troubling me. I don’t like unsolved mysteries, and I couldn’t understand why a guy who went 3-1 with a 0.90 ERA, two saves, and a 32/5 K/BB ratio in his professional debut, would retire six games into his second pro season? So I asked him.
Tyson Seng was drafted by the Mets in the 33rd round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft. Tyson a right-hander who hails from Norman, Oklahoma had evolved into a relief pitcher while attending college at the University of Oklahoma. His family was very proud of him when he was drafted and as a college senior it was a no-brainer for him to sign a professional contract and keep playing.
“It is always a dream. You always have thoughts of playing at the next level and playing as high as you can. It feels good when your dreams are realized.”
He did sign, and on the eve of being sent to join his new team the 2011 Brooklyn Cyclones he spoke to the Enid, Oklahoma News:
“I have gotten used to coming out of the bullpen. I believe being a short reliever is in my best interest but I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I’m looking forward to the challenge and it’s something I’ll work hard for. Any time you’ve been in college for four or five years and you get drafted, you are ready because you have gone through it. You have to go in with the attitude you’re going to make it to the bigs. This is my time and I’m ready to go.”
He reported to Brooklyn and had a terrific season coming out of the pen for the Cyclones. When spring training broke for the start of the 2012 season he was on the opening day roster of the Savannah Sand Gnats. But elbow problems began to undermine his plans of moving up the ladder.
He started this season pitching well in his first four games, a span of 6.0 innings where he gave up one unearned run on five hits, with five strikeouts and a walk. But he experienced problems in his next two games that were very much unlike his usual performances. In the final two games of his career, he pitched on April 19th and 24th. In 3.0 innings over those two games he gave up six earned runs on ten hits, with a walk and a strikeout.
Two days after the second rough outing on April 26th, the Sand Gnats put Seng on the 7-day D.L. with an elbow strain. After a week had passed Seng made a decision and on May 5th he announced his retirement from professional baseball. I reached out to Tyson and asked him what had caused him to decide on retirement, and this is what he told me:
“Pete, sorry it took me so long to get back to you. There were several different reasons why I retired. As you know I was on the D.L. with an elbow injury before I decided to retire. I ended the year last year in Brooklyn on the D.L. with a shoulder issue. I told myself from the beginning that If I didn’t stay healthy and I didn’t put myself in a position to move up quickly, I would get out. I didn’t want a career in the minors. Unfortunately for me I started my professional career when I was 24-years-old. If I would’ve been 20-22 years old and signed for a good amount out of the draft then I would be still playing. Living from pay check to pay check with nothing to fall back on is tough. I felt like it was time to move on and start the next chapter in my life. I’m very thankful for the opportunity I got from the Mets. You guys do a great job of covering Mets baseball. Keep up the good work.”
This is the part of professional baseball that is tough. Seeing guys you are rooting for falling short of their dreams can be disappointing to fan and player alike. Players who work hard and sacrifice for years only to find that they aren’t going to make it to the bigs, and they will soon fade away and be forgotten.
We forget sometimes how many of these young players never get to the point where they are being discussed as “prospects” or where they can display their talents for all the world to see. Their’s is an existence of toiling in obscurity, trying to separate themselves from everyone else so they can rise up to the top of the ladder, and someday get that call to head to the major leagues.
For Tyson Seng, he is a practical man who made a practical decision about his future. Rather than spending years spinning his wheels in the minor leagues, only to try and enter real life somewhere farther down the road, Seng decided that he wanted to start building his future now, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. From all of us Mets fans, and everybody here at MMO, we all would like to wish Tyson the best of luck in wherever his path takes him. And remember, once a Met always a Met!