Tyler Mead ready for the next step

Tyler Mead always knew he wanted to begin his professional career but that decision became easier based on a relationship he had built with San Diego Padres scout Josh Boyd.

It helped that he has life to his fastball and comes from a baseball background, his father Timber played in the Giants and Reds minor league systems.

"We got to talk a lot and had a few meetings when he would have camps at PGE Park," Tyler Mead explained. "It made it a lot easier. There wasn't as much pressure."

What kind of pressure?

"Negotiation pressure."

And thus the signing process went smoothly between the Padres and their 17th round pick.

The former Skyview High School first-team all-class 4A Great St. Helens pitcher has had a big transition from his high school days.

Coming from the Northwest where the whether is mild, Mead had to quickly make a transition into the heat of the desert in Peoria, Arizona.

It hasn't been easy.

"It is a big change coming from high school," Mead admitted. "Especially from the Northwest where it rains every day. Out there is it so hot and you are constantly sweating."

His tutor has been Dave Rajsich, a veteran coach who is in charge of the assimilation of young pitchers to the game.

Mead has been all ears, tailoring his pitching to meet the demands of everyday life in professional ball.

"A lot of little things," Mead says of the knowledge he has gained. "Knowing how to pitch to hitters is the big thing.

"It is a lot mental. If you go up there thinking you are going to walk them and you can only think about your mechanics then you are going to walk them. You have to be confident going up there."

One of the biggest challenges for Mead was all the innings he was exposed to this season and his move into a reliever's role.

By season's end, Mead's fastball had dipped from the upper-80's to the mid-80's because of a tired arm.

And getting ready in a few minutes rather than getting as much time as he needed also wore on him. He ended the year with a 7.30 ERA in relief, compared to his 5.82 mark as a starter.

"It is pretty difficult since I have been a starter my whole life," Mead explained. "I have not gotten ready used to getting ready in the bullpen in a few minutes where I used to have as much time as I needed to warm up."

Like every young pitcher, Mead is also working on his changeup, trying to elevate it to out-pitch status. He has always consired his slider as the go-to pitch but has been changing his mentality as he sees other players have success with the off-speed.

He admits that the slider has been put on the backburner a little more in professional ball but will need it more as he gains experience.

The off-season was a time of rest for the right-hander. Working on his stamina and conditioning will prepare him for the upcoming year – one which he hopes to show a fastball that hits 90 MPH regularly and mixes in improved secondary pitches.

He will hit spring training in the coming weeks with an eye on making an impact in his second year. Given his bloodlines, there are few who expect he won't become a difference maker in the coming year.

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