Former Louisiana-Monroe pitcher Tyler Bray, a 26th round draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, spoke to Redbird Rants in a phone interview shortly after the 2014 MLB Draft.
Daniel Solzman: Tyler, for joining Redbird Rants today. How are things treating you down in Mississippi?
Tyler Bray: Good. Just running around right now. It hasn’t sank in yet but it feels good to know that I get to play again and keep playing.
Daniel Solzman: Can you describe what it felt like when you found out you were drafted by the Cardinals?
Tyler Bray: It felt like—I’ll tell you—we were sitting there and just watching the computer and seeing all those names going off. The Boston Red Sox were up and we’re sitting there like, whoa, we’re supposed to get a phone call right before we’re drafted.
My brother got drafted last year in the sixth round by the Diamondbacks and he got a call before he got drafted and I didn’t get one. So I’m at the computer…Draft ID, blah, blah, blah, Bray, Tyler, Louisiana-Monroe. I just jumped up “alright!” I was happy and pumped up. I really didn’t know what to (inaudble). I was supposed to get a phone call but I didn’t but I’ll take it how it is. They don’t have to change their way of thought about it. I’m happy just the way it happened.
Daniel Solzman: When did you first learn that the Cardinals were interested?
Tyler Bray: It was actually my last game against Lafayette. I think they had been following me a little bit, here and there, and had some interested. But it was my last game in the regular season against Lafayette down there in the city of Lafayette. I had a good outing and in the conference tournament, I had a good outing. I’m nervous about how it’s going. Nick Brannon text me and said “hey man, I need you to fill this out.” Do all this and that. Yes, sir, I will. Then he calls me yesterday morning. Hey, man, in the draft, we’re going to pick you today. That was how it went.
Daniel Solzman: What did you do during the last week to take your mind off the draft?
Tyler Bray: I’ve been hanging out with my friends. I live down here in south Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico is in my backyard. I went fishing and (inaudible). Hanging out with my friends, family, girlfriend—just catching up. Really trying to do everything I could to keep my mind off of the (inaudible). Yes, sir.
Daniel Solzman: What’s the reaction been like on Twitter and social media since the Cardinals drafted you?
Tyler Bray: It’s been positive. A lot of friends, family, former players, coaches, and teammates have congratulated me. Since I got drafted, I think the first identification I got was welcome to family or Cards Nation or something. After that it was just Cardinals fans and all these sports websites and writers. I wasn’t expecting all that. Pro ball is a special thing just being a part of it and playing but there’s a whole other side to it. The fans keep up with you. They say they love me (inaudible). I’m a Cardinal now.
Maybe one day they’ll love me because I’m a St. Louis Cardinal and not a minor league guy. Like I said, they found me really early.
Daniel Solzman: How has Louisiana-Monroe coach Bruce Peddie helped get you ready for the next level?
Tyler Bray: He’s done everything in the world. I couldn’t ask for a better coach. I lost my former head coach halfway through the year (inaudible)
I love him to death. He’s helped me out tremendously. Coach Peddie was interim head coach for a while and he got the name put on his head, head coach, second to last weekend. He’s just been there and been a real support. He taught me a lot. He’s old school. He teaches the right way to play the game. He talks baseball. I could tell you some of these stories about how I go to field late at night. Coach Peddie’s there and me and one of my buddies (inaudible) sit around and talk for hours and hours. He loves it. You feed off his energy and his passion. Him and Coach Thomas—he played for the White Sox for a while and was my pitching coach. I could go on. He’s done so much for me. All my coaches have really.
Daniel Solzman: Seeing as how the Cardinals have been developing their pitchers of late, are you looking forward to working with the coaches and veterans during Spring Training next year?
Tyler Bray: Oh, yes, sir. I remember former players that have said, man, you are going to a good organization. They take care of their pitchers and do everything right. I feel like I’ve been blessed with great coaches already and now to be a part of an even higher, better coaching staff and more individual work. More teammates. You really can’t break down individual work every day. I’m ready to learn more and just try and take in every bit of information I get. I’ll process it and I might mess up. One of my coaches a long time ago said that to get better, you’ve got to take a step back. I know that. I’m ready to go and get going and work with the pitching coaches and head coaches. You learn so much from baseball as you keep playing.
Daniel Solzman: The Hall of Famers always make a visit in Jupiter during Spring Training. Is there anyone in particular that you are really looking forward to meeting?
Tyler Bray: All of them. I’ve watched baseball all my life. It’s just—if I get to meet a Hall of Famer, that’s awesome to meet him. To meet a professional baseball player, you learn and get their take on baseball. See different views of it and ask them questions. My dad played for a while and he taught me so much. He didn’t get experience that next level as a MLB professional in the show. My head coach and pitching coach at ULM—he played and I learned so much from him. You get to know stories, be able to (inaudible) Sit there and talk to them, that’s going to be awesome. I bet I’d be nervous.
Daniel Solzman: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Tyler Bray: It’s going to be two guys. First, my dad’s roommate in college was Luis Gonzalez so I grew up loving him. I was a Diamondbacks fan growing up because of my dad. He was a big Luis fan. I got to know him and his family. Derek Jeter is my other favorite. I hate to see him go this year. The one I respect the most and learned a lot is Jered Weaver. He doesn’t have a 98-99 mph fastball and (inaudible). Definitely one I like to watch and learn a lot from him. How pitch around the plate and get guys out with a 92-93 mph fastball.
Daniel Solzman: What is something that Cardinals fans should know about you?
Tyler Bray: Oh, man. That’s a tough question. I love baseball. I love being around the game. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got for them. I’m fortunate enough to be a Cardinal and I’m going to give it everything to make them proud. I’m going to work hard.
Daniel Solzman: Thanks again for joining us and best of luck as your make your way up through the organization. Any words for the best fans in baseball?
Tyler Bray: Go Cards! Go Cards!