After being drafted in the 6th round out of USC in this year’s MLB first year player draft, left-hander Tyler Gilbert has looked impressive for the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters. In nine outings (seven starts), the 21-year-old California native sports a 3-3 record with a 3.00 ERA while striking out 38 batters and walking just five in 36 innings pitched.
Recently, I spoke with Tyler about his draft experience, his transition to the pro ranks, which players he looks up to and much more. Read ahead for the full interview.
-You’ve posted some solid number thus far in the minors. What are your thoughts on your time with the Crosscutters thus far?
It’s been good the whole season. I’ve been keeping my numbers relatively good and I’ve got a low ERA. I had one shaky outing a few weeks ago and that was about it. I think so far, five or six outings I’ve been relatively good. So, I’ve been really happy with how everything is going.
-As an early-round draft selection, what was your draft experience like?
I had really no idea when I’d be drafted. I heard various scouting reports and stuff and I actually didn’t see my name on the prospect lists for the top 200 picks. So, I really had no clue what was going to happen until the Phillies called me in the sixth round and said, ‘Will you sign in the sixth for slot?’ And I said, ‘Of course!’ I mean, it was the second day of the draft and I was with my family, so it was a pretty exciting day. It was awesome.
-How do you feel your time in college ball prepared you for the transition to pro baseball?
Going to USC, Southern California, there was good talent out there. PAC 12, there was really good talent, so I think it prepared me very well for pro ball. Playing against the best conference on the west coast gave me a lot of opportunities to pitch against really good hitters, so I think that’s prepared me very well so far.
-After signing with the Phillies, was there anything that coaches altered about your mechanics or were there changes to your pitch repertoire?
Not a whole lot. The only thing that they’re making me do different is I’ve switched sides of the rubber. I used to throw off the right side, but now I’m throwing off the way left side just to create better depth and better angle for my pitches. But that’s about it.
-So far, have you come across anyone in the New York-Penn League you would have faced or played with in college?
My catcher at USC Garrett Stubbs he plays for Tri-City. I think he got moved up now, but I played against him a few weeks ago. It was pretty cool. Went out for dinner after the game and stuff. It’s cool seeing your old teammates out here in pro ball.
-Did he have an advantage, after having caught and seen your offerings so many times?
Luckily I didn’t pitch against him. I wasn’t pitching those three days. But, he knows my stuff pretty well. Fortunately, I didn’t pitch against him, but it would be fun to face him for sure.
-Sometimes guys will come to the organization from the opposite coast and not know much about the Phillies. What was your exposure to the Phils like prior to signing with the team?
Good. I mean, I don’t know a whole lot about the organization because I’m from California. I never really grew up a Phillies fan, but I do know a little bit. Pat Burrell, he used to play for the Phillies and he went to my high school for one year, so I knew a little about the Phillies.
-Your pitching coach with the Cutters is Les Lancaster, who had a nice career of his own and has now coached at multiple levels with the Phillies. How has working with coach Les been for you so far?
Great. He helps keep me calm and he’s helped with with my delivery and stuff. Helps me stay back. I jump out and get too excited a lot with my delivery and kind of let my arm drag. He’s helped with relaxing me on the mound, just to stay back and don’t get too ahead of yourself, so I’ve been liking how it’s going so far. He knows so much about pitching, so it’s nice to have that kind of coach to talk to about stuff like that.
-What is your full repertoire and is there something you consider your out pitch?
Four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, split finger change up and a curve ball. And I’d say my out pitch is my split-finger change up.
-Most guys would throw a circle change. Where did you learn the split-finger grip?
My junior college coach actually taught me the grip. My freshman year of junior college. He taught me the grip and I’ve been using it ever since and it’s helped me get where I am. I didn’t learn it till college.
-Were there players you looked up to and maybe wanted to emulate prior to turning pro?
Yeah, of course. I look at guys like C.J. Wilson and Cole Hamels and those kind of deliveries because I want to try to mimic them, because I feel that I have a similar delivery in a way. But, yeah those two guys are guys that I’ve always looked up to.
-Are you on Twitter or into the social networking thing at all?
No, I don’t have a Twitter. I am barely on Facebook. Yeah, I don’t really need that stuff too much. I’m not a big social media guy. I don’t even know what Twitter is. I don’t know how to tweet or anything like that.