After a promising first professional season with the A's Arizona Rookie League team, Tyler Vail had a bit of a set-back in 2011 when he walked 53 in only 95.2 innings for Low-A Burlington and short-season Vermont.
A shoulder injury got Vail off to a slow start this season, but he hasn't let that derail his progress. After rehabbing at extended spring training, Vail debuted with the A's Rookie League club. He dominated in 9.2 innings over three outings, striking out 11 and walking only one. That effort earned him a ticket to Vermont to join the Lake Monsters' roster.
In 45.2 innings spread over 10 outings, Vail has put together a solid season for the Lake Monsters. He has struck-out 40 and has walked only 17 while allowing just a single homerun. New York-Penn League batters are hitting only .221 off of the right-hander.
Donald Moore spoke with Vail this past weekend during the Lake Monsters' series against the Tri-City Valley Cats.
Donald Moore: Hi Tyler, how is everything going for you this year?
Tyler Vail: Very good, I started down in the extended program. I had an injured shoulder, battled through that, then I went to the AZL for three starts and now I'm back in the New York Penn League, so I'm feeling good.
DM: What are your goals for this season?
TV: Just get better every time I come on the field, which is happening, which is good. Just stay positive, even though we are on a little skid right now. Just stay positive and it's probably the best thing to do.
DM: What specifically did you work on in extended spring training?
TV: The breaking ball, and my secondary pitches. The change-up was pretty good last year and my curveball wasn't even there. I couldn't even throw it for a strike, so now it's a lot better. And I'm really happy with that.
DM: What was spring training like?
TV: Awesome, it's the best. You know the last day I got hurt, but still it was the best.
DM: What would you like to improve on?
TV: Probably being consistent with everything. Sometimes my mechanics are out of whack. I need to get really consistent with pitching in general. It's about being more mentally confident.
DM: What's your plans for the off-season?
TV: Hopefully not shoveling snow, hopefully the snow stays off a little bit. Playing some Call of Duty, some video games, listen to music, hang out with my pals, just laying low, working out and doing it all.
DM: Favorite city where you've played?
TV: Staten Island, New York. The backdrop, the whole stadium, the field, it's great.
DM: I really appreciate your time Tyler and the best of luck to you.
TV: Thank you.