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May 27, 2011 at 6:49 AM

Q&A with Tyler Beede

As part of SoxProspects.com's annual draft coverage, we will be featuring interviews with top local draft eligible prospects. Today's interview is the third in the series. Click here for my interview with UMass Lowell southpaw Jack Leathersich and here for Jon Meoli's interview with UConn's George Springer and Matt Barnes.

Tyler Beede is a 6-4, 200 pound right-handed pitcher from Lawrence Academy. The son of former Chicago Cubs minor leaguer Walter Beede, Tyler has lived and breathed baseball his entire life. A rare polished product coming out of high school, Beede has a strong commitment to Vanderbilt University this upcoming fall.

With an arsenal of pitches with plus potential and repeatable mechanics, Beede has gained attention as a top prospect in this year’s upcoming draft. He has been ranked the 30th best draft eligible prospect by Keith Law, 35th by Baseball America, and also appeared on MLB.com’s list of top 50 draft prospects. Last season as a junior, Beede went 6-1 with a 1.08 ERA, striking out 87 in 45.1 innings. Fresh off a no hitter on May 11th, Beede sat down with me to discuss his career, growth and future as a person and a pitcher.

John Gray: Your father Walter was drafted in the 13th round by the Cubs in 1981. What effect did growing up around the game and having a father who played professionally have on you? How has the experience prepared you for your baseball career?
Tyler Beede: Going through the process I am right now, his experience in professional baseball really helps. You know, knowing what he went through and what he would have done differently and what he learned is really insightful. He has been my biggest influence, my greatest teacher, my biggest fan, always talking to me about the game and introducing me to it at such a young age. He’s always pushed me to be the best I can be, and he teaches me new things every day.

JG: You had a number of schools looking to recruit you, why did you eventually settle on Vanderbilt?
TB: The academics really stood out to me, they are top 20 in the country. The baseball program speaks for itself, they get better each year and right now they are one of the best programs in the country. The coaching staff is tremendous and I really would love to play for Coach (Tim) Corbin, he’s a leader both on and off the field. DJ (Derek Johnson) the pitching coach has helped to produce first round pitching year-in and year-out. David Price, Sonny Gray, the list goes on for guys that have come out of the program and had tremendous success. I really could see myself there for four years. When I took my visit I felt right at home.

JG: With your strong commitment to Vanderbilt, how do you view the upcoming MLB draft? Have there been any teams that have displayed significant interest? Boston? Are you dead set on going to college or would you be amenable to sign if the right situation presented itself with a pro team?
Just being a part of this very talented draft is a great honor. They are saying this one of the deepest drafts in quite a while. It would be a dream come true to hear my name called and play professional ball. For now, I am just enjoying the process and seeing what happens. When the decision comes, it will be one of the toughest decisions I think I’ll ever have to make. Boston has certainly shown a good deal of interest, being a team that’s in my backyard. I actually went to Fenway and talked with some guys and toured the stadium and the offices and it was a great experience for me. They’ve always been my favorite team and will continue to be going forward.

JG: You have gotten to pitch in contests at Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field. For those of us who haven’t had that experience, tell us what it is like to take the mound in such hallowed grounds? Which venue was your favorite to pitch in?
It was such a great honor, one of the best moments of my life to take the mound in those great stadiums. Pitching in front of family and friends in Fenway was something I will never forget. Hopefully I can have the chance again as a professional. I was really nervous especially at Fenway. I remember I came in for the third or fourth inning and my entrance music, Thunderstruck by AC/DC, started playing and I just ran to the mound as fast as I could and my warm up pitches were just a blur. I was out of breath from running so fast and just couldn’t believe what I was going through. Once the inning got underway, I was absolutely fine though and I was able to focus in on the task at hand.

JG: Please describe your pitching arsenal and how it has developed over time? Is there anything you are currently working on?
TB: I throw a four-seam fastball that sits in the low-90s, I’ve been able to reach the mid-90s with it here and there. My changeup, which is a circle change, is probably my best pitch. It is my go-to pitch in almost any situation and I feel comfortable throwing it in any count. In the offseason, I worked on a 12-6 curveball as my coaches at both Lawrence and Vanderbilt wanted me to try and develop it a bit better. I had thrown it for a few years but it really wasn’t a strong pitch, now it has become one of my best pitches, sitting in the 70s with the hard 12-6 bite.

JG: You were a standout pitcher at Auburn High before transferring to Lawrence Academy, what caused you to make the switch?
The academics and helping me to better prepare me for the next step. You know, I am doing my own laundry, living away from home and learning how to be independent. At prep school, you have to wake up early; you have a routine every day. I feel like I have matured and learned a lot in the past few years and certainly gotten better with my academics. I feel like whether I go to college or pro ball next year, I am ready for the challenge.

JG: You recently finished off a no-hitter against Brooks School in front of numerous scouts. Take us through your mindset as the game progressed and what the feat meant to you.
TB: You go into every game with the same mindset, throw strikes and compete within the strike zone. That day in pre-game warm-ups I really felt like I had all three pitches working. My catcher Kevin Wnukowski and I were on the same page, it was one of those days where you aren’t shaking him off too much and just really clicking on all levels. I was working quickly and getting outs, getting a lot of swings through my fastball and over my changeup, and my curveball was biting hard. My defense played well behind me and the offense put quite a few runs on the board to take any pressure off me. When your team puts up runs for you early you really don’t have that added pressure of protecting a run or two.

JG: Has the increased amount of attention you have gotten from scouts affected your game at all?
I am used to it by now. When I was a sophomore, I went to a showcase in Jupiter, FL and I remember seeing a bunch of scouts for the first time and it was certainly a wow type of moment. Over the years, you just get used to seeing the guys back there with the radar guns and focusing on you but I just focus on the game and throwing strikes.

JG: You have had great success at every stop in your career thus far, what contributes to your success?
TB: Starting as a sophomore, I really wanted to separate myself and bring myself to an elite level. It took a lot of hard work during the offseasons. I went to a guy named Eric Cressey, who runs Cressey Performance up in Hudson, NH, and he helped put 40 pounds on me over the last 2-3 years, as well as 5-6 MPH on my fastball. I think the biggest area he helped me out in was keeping me healthy during the spring and winter circuits and helping me maintain my velocity all season long. There’s going to be times when you fail, but you have to just keep your body and mind sound and work hard every day and the success will come.

JG: While I’m sure you have many, can you tell us what your favorite baseball memory would be and why?
Wow, that’s a good question. There are a lot of great moments, but my favorite would have to be winning the state championship at Auburn. It wasn’t about just winning a championship, it was a collective group of guys coming together and accomplishing something great. The year before we won, we had actually made it to the state championship and lost, so to make it back to the title game the following year and beat the same team we lost to was just a great experience. Being able to take part in games that competitive and have that type of a breakthrough with that team was something I’ll always remember for sure.

Playing at Fenway is also at the top of the list. Growing up watching the Red Sox play every day, being a huge fan of the team and then being able to take the mound there is just beyond words.

JG: Any superstitions? How do you prepare for a game day on the mound?
A lot of my superstitions are a week long thing. I do a lot of video breakdown of my performances; I watch video of when I was at my best and try to get that in my head so I can repeat it in games. I long toss, throw bullpens, and just prepare myself all week long. On game day, I will have an energy drink in the morning, an energy drink before the game, throw long toss and then a bullpen with my catcher, and then get right into the game.

JG: You’ve also continued to play football even with your success on in baseball. What positions have you played on the gridiron and how much has your football career meant to you?
TB: I’ve played football ever since I was 7 years old. We won a super bowl at Auburn, and the only year I haven’t played was my first year here at Lawrence since I wanted to get my feet wet academically as well as socially at a new school. I played again this year and was part of a very talented squad. I wanted to have that experience of playing football with my friends and just doing something else I enjoy. I’ve played a few different positions in football, mainly cornerback, wide receiver, and a little experience as a quarterback.

JG: Do you have any major baseball influences or players you have looked up to other than your father? And how have they helped you progress as a player?
TB: There are always those guys you watch that you want to emulate. For me, it was Josh Beckett. I tried to be exactly like him mechanically and for a while I was pretty close. Recently, I realized I am going to be my own guy and have taken on my own mechanics and personality.

JG: If you could meet Beckett would you be nervous? If there was one thing you could ask them what would it be?
TB: Oh there would be nerves for sure, but as a pitcher there are always things to talk about. I’d want to ask him how he prepares each week and how he battles hitters, how he handles his bullpens, etc. I’m sure if he was willing, that would be a conversation that would go hours and hours.

JG: With such a focus on sports, is it hard to find time to be a regular high school student?
TB: At times there are a lot of distractions at school, between high school drama and just the life of a high school student in general. The added pressures on me with the draft and keeping up with my academics are always present, but with having great teachers, coaches, and friends around me to keep me focused, I haven’t really had any issues keeping up with academics and being the best I can be both on the field and in the classroom.

JG: I saw in another interview you enjoy rapping, any chance we see an album?
TB: Haha. Yeah, I take it very seriously. There’s a lot of emotion in my rapping and it gives me a chance to talk about things I’ve done and decisions I’ve made through the art of music. I have really dedicated myself to it in my spare time. Whenever I have a minute, I’ll sit down and write whatever I’m thinking in my head. I’ve got a few songs set up for a mix tape. It’s something my friends love and I love, even if they get a laugh in every now and then.