I recently had the opportunity to talk to St. Louis Cardinals minor Leaguer Tyler Bray about his time in the Cardinals farm system and his goals for the 2018 season.
The St. Louis Cardinals have a strong farm system and a member of this strong supporting core is Tyler Bray, a young pitcher climbing the ranks of our beloved Cardinals. Below is my one-on-one with Bray.
Josh McDonald: First and foremost how’s your offseason going? What have you been up to?
Tyler Bray: “It’s going good, just getting ready for next year, not trying to be who I was last year, just better. Just keep working.”
Josh: Speaking of last year, you seemingly had a breakout season with a 2.91 ERA at Springfield and that’s with a pretty rough May, what do you think allowed for this next step in your game?
Tyler: “I just think talking to some of my friends that have made it up higher, just being consistent. You can’t let one bad week or one bad game or one bad month even, get to your head, just stay level and slow things down. Just believe in who you are, know over time the results will come, regardless of what one day, week or month might have. That was the biggest thing for me really.”
Josh: You made a lot of changes through the year, what was it like making the jump from Palm Beach to Springfield and then to Memphis all in one season?
Tyler: “I mean, it’s really just a testament to the Cardinals. They tell us every year at Spring Training that if you play good, you move good. It’s just kind of how it all fell for me. They have been really good to me, you know I’m a 26th rounder, late guy, they really didn’t have to move me at all.
But they stood by their word, you play good you move good. That’s kind of been what they’ve told me since day one, just believing in it and trusting in their way. Just doing what Jason Simontacchi has taught me and Dernier Orozco and Niemann down in Palm Beach. All those guys had one goal in mind for me. They had a vision and it’s me believing in their vision and what they need from me.”
Josh: Since you mentioned him, what do you think the loss of Jason Simontacchi will mean for the Cardinals minor league system?
Tyler: “I know I am very happy for him. It is well deserved; he’s gonna be a big league pitching coach one day, for sure. He’s just incredible, how he relates to the players, he’s been there. That’s one thing that I’ve noticed is even when I’m working in the offseason with younger kids, it’s kind of hard to relate back to that high school mentality and where they’re at.
Simo has just done an incredible job with understanding what we’re going through, putting himself back in our shoes and remembering everything. He just remembered everything that he did through his career, tell stories about maturing. It’s gonna be a huge loss, to me I know he has helped me out so much. He’s well deserved of a big league job in my opinion.”
Josh: It was clearly a small sample size, but what do you think was the toughest part of your time in Memphis?
Tyler: “It was just getting used to how they approached me. I feel like I can definitely pitch there. First time through the first inning I felt good with them and I felt like I can pitch here for sure. Just going out there and believing in myself.
One of my good friends told me, if you make the pitch it’s no different at any level, it’s when you miss the pitch is whenever they get you. Toughest part for me was just getting acclimated to the lineups, knowing the hitters. As far as the competition I know I can pitch there for sure. It’s just a matter of getting in there and sticking my nose in.”
Josh: Do you expect to start the season with Memphis? Any idea what your role might be?
Tyler: “No, I’m just going into Spring Training with the mindset of doing everything they ask me. I plan on being wherever they want me to be. If they send me to Peoria and they think that’s in my best interest, that’s where I’m going. I don’t really try and think too much about where I’m going to be or what tomorrow might have.”
Josh: What would you say is your ultimate goal for the season?
Tyler: “Just a consistent year, I want to limit my walks as much as possible. I want to control things that I can control. I think a lot of minor leaguers as they mature and get older they learn that, I can only control what Tyler Bray can control.
Unfortunately, I don’t get paid the big bucks to play GM to Peoria, Springfield, State College or Memphis. My job is to take care of myself, take things one day at a time, one pitch at a time and everything outside of that is not up to me.”
Josh; You’ve made your way through the Cardinals farm system and you mentioned Simo, is there a specific coach who has had the biggest effect on you in your time in the minors?
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Tyler: “All of them honestly, Orozco was with me whenever I was in Peoria and in State College, so he definetly sticks out for me. He was there when I had a 7 ERA at 24 years old and I’m wondering if I’m going to be coming home at that low point in my baseball life. Niemann, I’ve worked with so much in Spring Training and in my short time at Palm Beach and Simo for sure. Those three guys have been there for me a lot.”
Josh: How about a player who has had the biggest effect on you?
Tyler: “I’d say Daniel Bard, he’s helped me out a lot with the game, knowledge of the game. We’d sit in the hotel room and talk, he was a big influence. There’s so many. Just watching everyone’s routine, I can’t really point to anybody, you take so much from everybody you play with and try to make your own way.”
Josh: Is there a hitter who sticks out to you as the toughest you’ve faced in your time in the minors?
Tyler: “I don’t really want to say I’ve struggled with anybody, I want to say I can get anybody out whenever. I don’t really worry about the double, home run hitter, guys that drive balls deep.
Normally they tend to have a little longer swing, tend to like to get their hands extended and I feel really comfortable with those guys. It’s the short, skinny, leadoff, nine hole hitter that kind of slaps the ball around the park. Those guys tend to get to me better than a big strong guy for sure.”
Josh: Just one more question, anything specific you will be focusing on this year?
Tyler: “Just being consistent, just believing in who I am as a pitcher. Not trying to be somebody else. I’m just trying to be the best Tyler Bray that I can be and just be a team player. I want to continuously prove that I’m a competitor and let my team know that I’ll fight for you. I’m a team player, that’s what’s most important to me is for those guys to know that.”
Tyler will report for Spring Training with the rest of the pitchers and catchers on February 13th with an eye on continuing his progress. Look for Tyler to continue to build on his success from the 2017 season. Wherever he does end up, know his mind set won’t change and he will look to compete wherever he is sent.