Recently, it seems that the forte of the Oakland A’s has been their starting pitching. In the past decade, a steady stream of starters like Tim Hudson, Dan Haren, Mark Mulder, Trevor Cahill, and others have appeared on an Oakland pitching mound. For the most part these are homegrown pitchers, a testament to the development skills of the organization.
Tyler Vail is a candidate to eventually become part of the Oakland pitching tradition. Vail was drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 draft out of Notre Dame-Green Pond High School. His senior season is what put him high on the draft board. He went 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA and 93 strikeouts, while also starring as a hitter. He had been poised to attend the University of Maryland, but chose instead to sign with Oakland and start his professional career.
The hard throwing Vail has had an uneven start to his career thus far. He has made it as high as A level, but is currently with the Vermont Lake Monsters in Low-A. To date, he has gone 1-8 with a 4.66 ERA since being drafted. You can find more information on his statistics by going to http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=vail--001tyl.
Vail has a lot of potential and plenty of time to advance, as he will not even turn 20 until after the conclusion of the 2011 season. I have seen him pitch in person and like what I see. It is uncommon for pitchers his age to have the type of arsenal he already possesses. Queue him up in your prospect databank, and sit back and wait to see what happens. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pitching on an Oakland mound in a few years.
Tyler Vail Interview:
How did you first get interested in baseball?: My cousin got me interested. He was a real good player in college. He was going to get drafted, and he didn’t. He told me that hard work and drive will pay off, so that’s what happened.
Did you have a favorite team or player growing up?: Yankees are still my favorite team; and Derek Jeter. He was always my favorite player.
What is it about Jeter that makes him your favorite player?: His hard work. He always gets to the field early. He always has the same determination to win, and even if he gets that 3000 hits, he’s still going to win that sixth World Series.
What was the draft process and picking an agent like for you?: I didn’t have an agent. Through the draft it was just my parents and I. So the process is pretty hectic because starting all from the 1st through the 5th I was getting phone calls and text messages. So I didn’t really know where I was going to go. When I got picked, it was a big stress relief for all of us because now I am ready to play professional baseball and get out of my hometown.
What pitches do you throw?: I throw a fastball, two seam, two seam fastball, four seam, changeup, and curveball.
What has life been like so far in the minor leagues?: The only thing hard to get used to is the bus rides. I mean the stadiums are great; the fans are great; signing autographs for little kids is great. It’s just the bud rides that really get me.
What has been the toughest thing to adapt to on the field?: I think being mentally strong. That’s why I think I was sent down here from Low-A, to get mentally strong and to work on my secondary pitches. And to just go out there and try to have fun and not lose sight that baseball is all about having fun.