College Check-in: TCU Pitcher Tyler Alexander Looks to Become a Leader
Apr 02, 2015 12:55PM ● Published by Kevin
TCU Pitcher Tyler Alexander. Photo courtesy of Michael Clements
"I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to pitch and be able to pitch behind - in my opinion - the two best pitchers in college baseball in [Brandon] Finnegan and [Preston] Morrison," Alexander said. "Seeing them pitch two days before me and the day before me helped me mature a lot and understand more about what I have to do as a pitcher."
Alexander roomed with Finnegan, on the road last year. Finnegan graduated in 2014.
"It was pretty cool," he continued. "I wouldn’t have been there if it weren’t for the experience I had – hanging out with the older guys and learning from them. I didn’t feel like a freshman out there pitching, that’s for sure."
Alexander struck out 59 and walked 11 in 99 innings of work his freshman year, holding opponents to a .239 batting average. He was 4-2 with a 3.08 ERA in eight appearances in the Big 12, helping the team capture its first-ever Big 12 championship.
He pitched a complete-game effort in the championship game against Oklahoma State on May 25, giving up one run on four hits, didn't walk a batter, and struck out four.
It wasn't all glitz and glam for Alexander last year, however. He was sent to bullpen duty midway through the season, but fought his way back into the starting rotation by season's end.
"From that point on I got into a groove," he said. "[The conference championship] was the best game of my
season. I ran into a little bit of trouble in the third or fourth
inning. Oklahoma State whipped me around earlier in the season. It was good to come
back with that chip on my shoulder and pitch the way I did against a really
good team. I felt like I was on and was able to make the adjustment later in
the game when I needed to. It was a great experience for me. It aged me a lot more as a pitcher."
He then gave up three runs in three innings against Pepperdine in the NCAA Fort Worth Super Regional on June 9, and finally allowed three runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings against Ole Miss in the College World Series on June 19.
Like last year, Alexander has gotten off to a slow start, which he admits. He's started six games as a part of seven appearances with a 1-2 record and 3.67 ERA. He's pitched 34.1 innings, allowing 35 hits, 18 runs (14 earned), and struck out 29 batters. He's walked one.
"There are adjustments I've needed to make," he said. "I was throwing too high in the zone. I was leaving some of my off-speed pitches up; mainly my slider. What I’ve done now, I threw out of the bullpen one game, which is something I did similar to last year, which helped me get my hand speed up. In my last two starts, my change up in particular has been really good. My curveball has also made huge strides. I'm living at the bottom of the zone, not trying to stress too much and getting better."
Alexander is majoring in economics and would like to enter the business world after he ends his baseball career. His father and two brothers are all focused on careers in business. He attributes his successes on and off the field to his parents, who have been there through the good and bad, and Carroll's pedigree.
"Playing baseball or any sport at Southlake, you play at such a high level with so much expectation to win and get better," he said. "There’s so much competition in your sport within your position. It makes you a lot better. It prepares you not only to be able to play at the D1 level, but to play good. There’s a lot of memories playing baseball there, I played for four years.
"The greatest ones came junior and senior year when I was that leader on the team and the guy everyone looked at. Everything we did, when you’re that leader, it makes it that much more sweet. We made it to two regional finals. Going on the road and playing those playoff games on the road, getting to room with one of my best friends, getting to hang out with those guys, it gave me a college experience on the road. I miss it."
He hopes to mirror that leadership experience for his college team as he heads toward upper classman status.
"I’ve always been a lead-by-example type of pitcher," he said. "I’m excited to see next year once we lose a lot of the guys, to move into the role as more of a leader as a person. Being one of the four starters helps being a lead-by-example guy because everyone looks at you, but it’s a whole different story when you become an older guy on the team and the team looks to."
Alexander was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 23rd round, but he continues to focus on his current endeavors.
"It’s a huge honor to be able to be considered and thought about," he said. "When they called me and told me, and understood I wasn’t going to sign and it was a courtesy thing, it humbled me and made me feel it was an honor. I have plenty more opportunities to get better and raise that stock. I’m not trying to worry about anything in the draft quite yet; just focusing on the upcoming games and getting better each day."