Tyler Bray, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Louisiana-Monroe, was drafted in the 26th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Bray, who played with the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs in 2013, has since signed a contract with the Cardinals and has reported to State College, the short-season Class A affiliate of St. Louis.
While playing for Little Falls last summer, Bray went 2-3 with a 2.03 ERA for the DiamondDawgs. He appeared in 19 games, all in relief, and struck out 42 batters in 26.2 innings. Opponents hit just .216 off Bray and he finished tied for the team lead with three saves.
This past season at Louisiana-Monroe, Bray posted a team-leading 3.36 ERA and finished with an 8-5 record. He appeared in 33 games, starting one game, and struck out 69 batters in 67 innings. For State College so far this year, Bray is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA in three appearances. He has struck out eight batters in 5.2 innings and has a 0.53 WHIP.
Bray took some time out of his schedule to discuss his time in the PGCBL and his draft experience.
PGCBL: First off, what was the feeling like after being drafted?
TB: I was in shock! As a child I always wanted to get drafted! And the day it happened I just was so excited! I never thought that dream would come true!
PGCBL: Did John Mozeliak (the St. Louis Cardinals GM) call you or did someone else from the front office?
TB: It’s actually a funny story. I had gotten a phone call that morning (June 7) from a few teams saying they were going to take me. So I got my hopes up a little bit. The rounds kept coming and going and finally came the 26th round and the Red Sox were on the clock. I asked my dad if they were going to call before I got drafted. By this time the Cardinals were on the clock and all of a sudden I hear my name being called. And I just started to smile and hugged my girlfriend and then my dad, and about that time my phone started blowing up with friends and family calling me!
PGCBL: You spent the 2013 summer with the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs. How did last summer help you out as a pitcher?
TB: It was one of the best things that happened to me. Now that I am in State College, I see how similar the schedule and my routine is. From everyday waking up and going to the park to the atmosphere the fans bring every night! Also, if it wasn’t for Coach Vaz and Coach Cacciola, I don’t know if I would still be playing. They were huge influence on my baseball career!
PGCBL: What would you say the highlight was of your time in Little Falls?
TB: I would say the friendships that I made, along with learning new aspects to baseball that I had never known. Another highlight would definitely be The Nunnery Inn and Hostel! It’s where I lived while I was up there along with 15 other guys and Jim Felix took really good care of us.
PGCBL: Overall, how was your experience in the PGCBL?
TB: I loved it! The talent in the PGCBL was really good! Last summer helped me so much for my senior campaign and ultimately giving me the best opportunity to be where I am now.
PGCBL: For the readers who didn’t get the opportunity to watch you pitch, what pitches do you throw and what would you say is your strongest pitch?
TB: I throw a fastball, slider and a changeup. My best pitch would probably be my slider. I tend to use it when I need a strikeout or a groundball.
PGCBL: The Cardinals are seen as one of the premiere organizations in baseball at developing young players, specifically pitching. What’s that mean to you, now that you’re in the organization?
TB: Yeah I am blessed. God has really blessed me with so much and there is not a better way to show Him thank you better than going out each and everyday and playing baseball for His glory and letting His light shine through me. But just being in this organization is a blessing and I can’t be any happier being a Cardinal.
PGCBL: Outside of baseball, what is something that fans may not necessarily know about you?
TB: I guess something that a lot of people that don’t know me or live with me is that I play the guitar. My brother, Chancy Rogers, was a big influence for me. He loves music and always playing the guitar or the piano and I don’t know, I just picked it up from him. If anything it relaxes me and gets my head of off baseball for a little bit.