Brooklyn, New York - So far for Mets pitching prospect Tyler Vanderheiden, the minor league experience has been a lot of zeros.
A 0.00 ERA and zero time to worry about obstacles he might face.
"Surprisingly what's helping me the most is struggling my freshman and sophomore years," said the twenty-two year old before a game. "Those were probably the worst two years of my life. I never thought about quitting. I grew up with the mindset that if you're going to start something, you finish it. Those struggles those two years helped me tackle pretty much anything."
The righty was selected out of Stamford University in the 19th round, and was assigned to the Class-A (short season) Brooklyn Cyclones. He's pitched 7 innings over 7 games, giving up just 6 hits and 2 walks in relief. He's also collected four saves.
Here's the rest of what he said earlier this week:
Professional debut: On an experience level it is big, but also the league itself is a lot of college players and then the really good high school players. So in that sense I'm playing against a couple of guys that I played with in college. [less intimidating] just because I know that I'm probably one of the older guys in the league. Mentally the experience I've had against them helps more than you can imagine.
Learning most: I'm trying to not make the same mistake twice. When I got out there I learn something different everyday. If I don't go out there and learn something, then I'm not getting the best I can out of each outing.
Hardest of all: Playing everyday. In college you pick up a baseball everyday, but in high school I didn't pick up baseballs everyday. The transition from high school to college is playing everyday. And then coming here and playing everyday and the practices being two three hours before game time.
Draft Day: It is [nerve-racking] just because you know if your name isn't called, you're in the real world and you know baseball is pretty much over unless you want to take a different path. That's the path some people are given. Some people aren't drafted and they still make it to the majors. I knew that if I didn't get drafted that I was going to try and play somewhere else, or maybe try to get picked up in free agency. I'm happy I was drafted and didn't have to go that route. I got a call the second day and thought maybe I was going to get selected higher than expected. I had a number in my head where I wanted to get drafted, anything past that I was going to start really worrying. And then it was just a relief.
Draft Attitude: I knew I wasn't the best guy out there, but I didn't think I was the worst guy. But my junior and senior year went better than expected, so that definitely helped. The person I talk to more is [pitching coordinator] Ron Romanick, not taking anything away from Val [pitching coach Mark Valdes], Ron just works with more sidearmers. Val is in on the gameplan, he knows when I'm doing something wrong, he can come up to me and help me. But one on one, like for today Ron's here and Valdes is not, so we got together and really worked on some mechanical stuff and some secondary pitching stuff. He's helped a lot of sidearmers and submarine pitchers. He knows a lot about it.
Looking Ahead, Juuust a bit: I just want to have a confident secondary pitch. Fastball command is a must. You have to have it. The biggest thing is they have to know you can throw a fastball, but you have to be able to show something else or they're going to sit on the fastball. And it's not going to be pretty.
Coverage of the Cyclones will continue all season for Gotham Baseball Magazine