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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Kyler Newby: The Underdog Pitcher

Everyone enjoys a long shot or an underdog. This is especially true in baseball where there appear to be another popping up at every turn. The sport is seen as the ultimate proving ground, and one where nothing is truly impossible or out of the question for those trying to make it a career. A poster child for this mentality is pitcher Kyler Newby, who is in the 10th year of his professional career and still working at getting a crack at the majors.

The big right-handed Newby was drafted almost as an afterthought- taken in the 50th round in 2004 by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Mesa Community College.

Pitching as a reliever, he appeared to be on the fast track, posting an impressive 6-1 record with a 2.05 ERA, 11 saves and 64 strikeouts in 44 innings in his second season in 2006.

Despite continuing to pitch well, and also showing he could produce as a starter, Newby never made the Show with Arizona in his seven years in their system. He pitched in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization in 2012, the Oakland A’s organization last year, and is now with the Somerset Patriots in the independent Atlantic League.

Given how consistently Newby has pitched during his career, it’s a bit of a puzzler that he has never gotten a chance to see what he can do in the majors. He has reached as high as Triple-A, pitching parts of three seasons at that level. All told, he has appeared in 315 professional games (29 starts) and gone 39-24 with a 3.12 ERA and 64 saves. More impressively, he has struck out 615 batters in 560 innings while permitting just 465 hits. More information on his career stats is available at BaseballReference.

Now 29, Newby is well past the age of the traditional prospect. However, if he continues playing and producing, it’s not outside the realm of reason that he could still one day be kicking major league dirt out of his cleats.

Back in 2012, I was fortunate enough to have Newby answer some questions about his career. Keep reading for more on this hard-working pitcher.

Kyler Newby Interview:

Who was your favorite player and team when you were growing up, and why?: When I was growing up my dad liked the Giants, so I followed. I had a Matt Williams jersey I wore all the time and played third base, so he was my favorite! 

In hindsight, is there anything differently you would have done in preparation to getting drafted?: No. Tony Cirelli prepared me for much more than baseball. He taught me so many life lessons that prepared me for the professional baseball world.

What was your 2004 draft day like?: I was in Canada playing summer ball and headed to the gym when I got the phone call from the Diamondbacks telling me they had drafted me. I didn't know I was going to get drafted. 

What are negotiations like after being drafted in the 50th round?: There were none. They told me we will give you $10,000 and two years of paid school; take it or leave it! 

Which pitches do you throw; which is your best; and which do you believe needs the most work?: I throw a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a slider that has more slurve tilt to it, and a split finger fastball. My best pitch is a strike, but I personally like my slider and organizations like my split. They all need work all the time. I work on each pitch daily in catch. If I let one sit to long I’ll lose command of it.  

Which coach or manager has had the greatest influence on you?: Tony Cirelli from MCC and Dan Carlson from the Diamondbacks. He's the AA pitching coach. Words can't describe how good of a man he is! 

What do you like to do that's not baseball related?: I love to golf and I love remote control cars. I have one that we clocked with the team’s radar gun at 73 miles per hour! 

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

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