Tyler Pike is a left-handed pitcher out of Winter Haven, Florida, who was a third-round selection by the Seattle Mariners in the 2012 MLB draft after going 18-3 with a 0.70 ERA and 257 strikeouts over 160 innings during his junior and senior years at Winter Haven HS. He was one of the most dominant players in the draft in his first pro season as he went 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 57 strikeouts over 50.2 innings for the Arizona League Mariners. On August 8, he tossed a five inning no-hitter.
I had a chance to bounce some questions off of Tyler and would like to thank him for his time.
Is there any way to describe the feeling of getting drafted? What was the most exciting part of the whole process?
Getting drafted was almost an unreal experience. It was the same day as my high school graduation so you could say that was one of the best days of my life. The most exciting part was probably my family and I sitting there thinking I was just gonna go to college and getting a call from my agent telling me the news. I was beyond happy.
Describe your first season as a pro.
My first season went pretty smooth and it was a lot of fun. It took a little getting used to, but once we got into a routine, time flew by and we had a blast. I threw well, grew as a person and a pitcher, and met a lot of new friends. It was a great time.
Tell us about that game on August 8. How bad did you want to go the distance?
I didn’t really know I had a no-hitter going. I get into a zone when I’m on the mound and I don’t think about anything but what’s happening at that moment. When some of the guys told me that I had it through five, it was just like “alright, cool” haha! It’s just another outing, but there’s always that part of you that wishes you could go more. That’s not in my control, however.
For people who don’t know, tell us about your pitching repertoire and style.
I like to work fast when I pitch. Just pitch, get the ball back quick, toe the rubber up and go again. Keeps hitters off balance and make them mad. I have a fastball, change-up and curveball. I pitch off the fastball — I’d rather throw that in any situation. I threw a game over the summer where I threw around 60 pitches or so and only six off-speed pitches. I did that a lot during high school, too.
How did your love for the game begin?
Ever since I was little, I always loved baseball. My dad would tell me all the time I was just different as a kid when it came to baseball. I would sit and watch the movie Angels in the Outfield over and over and over again all day for several years. That’s how I learned how to pitch, the wind-up, hitting … everything. And baseball just grew up with me and never left me.
Who was the toughest batter you faced all season?
Nick Williams from the Rangers. I just couldn’t get him out. I faced him probably five times and I think he got 4 hits. I would think I have him and he would hit whatever I threw. The guy is good.
The state of Florida is a hot bed for baseball talent. With so many high-profile players in your draft class, especially pitchers, was there extra pressure to remain among the elite, or is it just extra motivation?
I didn’t really care honestly. My dad and pitching coach Pat Borders would always tell me to be yourself, pitch your game and the rest would take care of itself. You can’t control what the other guys do. Do your own thing.
What are you going to work on the most during the offseason?
Just getting my arm stronger to where I can pitch 160-180 innings in a season. And to get stronger overall, mentally and physically as a person. Pro ball is a grind; you have to be ready for whatever comes.
Who has been the biggest influence in your baseball career?
My dad, family, friends and pitching coach Pat Borders. They all knew I had something special and put in the extra effort to make sure I pushed myself to become who I am today.
Aside from baseball, what do you do with your free time?
I like to hangout with my friends and do some hunting and fishing. Besides lifting and stuff, I’m prepping for duck hunting season, which is a month away. Gotta be ready for that! And I spend a lot of time with family and stuff; you can never get enough of that.
With guys like Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Mike Zunino as well as yourself in the farm system, how exciting is the future of Mariners baseball?
I think we have a great future ahead of us. Those guys are the real deal. They are great players and definitely have the ability to bring a World Series to Seattle. I just hope I can be there with them when it happens!
Last question. Game seven of the World Series, you’re on the mound, bottom of the ninth, two out, up a run with the bases loaded. Who do you want at the plate?
Anybody. I’m ready for you. Bring it on.
I’d like to thank Tyler again for his time. You can follow him on Twitter @tpike10