Tyler Beede Chooses Vanderbilt over the Blue Jays
Saturday August 20, 2011
Before the 2011 MLB Draft, Auburn, Massachusetts native Tyler Beede signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Vanderbilt University. In the months leading up to the draft, Beede made it known to MLB scouts and cross-checkers that he was going to attend Vanderbilt. He felt as though the college experience and the education he would receive would be the best thing for him.
Vanderbilt is also a member institution of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The SEC is arguably the best conference in the NCAA for baseball as well as other sports. There has been a long line of first round draft choices that have been Commodores. In the last seven years, Vanderbilt has had 48 players drafted, while 6 of those have been in the first round. Jeremy Sowers (6th in 2004), David Price (1st in 2007), Casey Weathers (9th in 2007), and Mike Minor (7th in 2009) are the pitchers taken in the first rounds of their drafts for the Commodores. Vanderbilt also took part in their first NCAA College World Series in 2011, and hope to build upon that success. Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin has said that Beede has been in Vanderbilt baseball camps since his freshman year of high school, so it is safe to say that Tyler is extremely comfortable with the staff and surroundings.
When a player with as much talent as Beede chooses a successful program, it is often to create leverage in negotiating with a drafting team. There have been many players who sign with schools such as University of Texas, Louisiana State University, or University of California simply to earn a larger signing bonus in professional baseball. The stronger the player’s commitment to school, the more leverage he has to get the MLB team to offer top dollars. Since MLB teams generally don’t like to “waste” their pick and not sign a guy, they will often have to break the bank to make him sign on the dotted line.
When a player tells a scout that he wants X amount of dollars, it often scares teams away from that player, dropping him to later rounds, or out of the draft altogether. Tyler was drafted in the 1st round (21st overall) of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, although he could have gone sooner if not for his demands. The Blue Jays and GM Alex Anthopoulos were known to be planning an aggressive approach to this year’s draft, and even though Beede stated he wanted the big bucks, the Jays were confident that they could sign him. So confident that many people in baseball were calling for investigations that the Blue Jays had worked out a pre-draft deal with Beede for around $2M.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Rob Bland, and like Beede, was a tall right-handed pitcher in high school. I may not have thrown as hard as Beede but I routinely flashed 89-91 mph on scouts’ radar guns. Scouts were behind the backstop for each one of my games from my junior year in high school on. I played for a prestigious program in Team Ontario and graduated to the Canadian Junior National Team and had a ton of great exposure. Before the 2002 MLB draft, I had signed with the University of Kentucky, also in the SEC, and told scouts I was going to school unless a lot of money was put in front of me. I was ranked in Baseball America’s top 150 draft prospects list, and I was told by some teams I could go as high as the 7th to 10th rounds. I went back and forth between school and professional baseball, but I felt I wasn’t ready to be a pro. My parents, like Beede’s, thought that I was mature enough to make this life-altering decision on my own. Education has always been very important to my family, and ultimately I decided that unless I was blown away by an offer, I would go to school. The fact that Beede has been on record of saying that he would have signed for $3.5M leads me to believe that he felt the same way. He had a number in mind, and unless it was reached, he would be perfectly content in attending college. I ended up requesting 3rd round money as a leverage tool (around $250,000 at the time). I figured that I would improve so much over the next three years that I would easily be a 3rd round selection at worst in 2005. Teams considered me “unsignable” and I was not selected at all. I went to the University of Kentucky where I struggled with adjusting to college life and could not stay healthy, spending most of my time in the trainer’s room, until finally requiring Tommy John surgery.
I could look back and say I should not have declared lofty demands and just taken what could have been given to me, but the reality is that I genuinely wanted to go to college. Beede has also been adamant that he wants to enjoy the college experience and step into a role where he can make a big difference. I also thought at the time that when I worked hard, I could improve and be drafted higher in the future. At the time I thought it was the right choice, but now I look back and wonder how I could have done in professional baseball.
I am not trying to compare myself with Beede, as he is obviously a much bigger talent, but there are some parallels. If he gets injured, or if he struggles and cannot figure college hitters and metal bats out, he could be losing out on a lot of money and a career in professional baseball.
I have no doubt that Beede’s talent will shine in the SEC, and he will again be drafted in 2014. However, I seriously doubt it will be as high of a selection, or that he will be offered the same $2.5M that the Blue Jays offered this year. With the next Collective Bargaining Agreement sure to stop the huge spending on the draft, players will not have the same bargaining power.
I have heard many Toronto Blue Jays fans saying that Beede was foolish for turning down the money, or that they hope that he does not succeed and regrets his decision. Some have said that he is immature, or that he doesn’t deserve to play professional baseball. “Tyler Beede is greedy” and “Beede is a jerk” has been posted on Twitter . All of these comments are completely unfair because he is an 18-year-old kid and decisions like these are not easy to make. In my opinion, he made a very mature decision that 99.9% of us find easy to scoff at. Who can turn down $2.5M to do something they love to do? What people don’t realize is that he has a huge love for Vanderbilt and their program. He feels more COMFORTABLE at Vandy than he does in the Toronto Blue Jays organization right now. For a ballplayer, comfort breeds confidence, and Beede I am sure is brimming with confidence right now.
Is this a decision that Beede may regret in 10 years? Maybe. Is he dumb? Absolutely not. Beede will look to become the second Vanderbilt Commodore to be selected first overall in a future MLB Draft. If that becomes the case, Beede will make a lot more money at that time than he was offered by the Blue Jays in 2011 and have a solid university education behind him.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***
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