One of the early themes to emerge from the Oakland A’s 2015 draft class was development. Many of the A’s selections this year needed time in college to grow into being professional-caliber players. A’s ninth-round pick Jared Lyons was one of those players who had to grow into the player he is today.
A left-hander from Yorktown, Virginia, Lyons arrived on the Liberty University campus in 2012 with a good assortment of pitches. However, he admits that he didn’t have the velocity to blow past hitters early in his collegiate career and he needed to rely more on deception and location than on pure “stuff” to get outs.
Through hard work and natural physical development, Lyons began to see more zip on his fastball. In 2015, his velocity jumped up to where it sat in the 88-90 MPH range. Armed with a fastball he could suddenly use to challenge hitters, Lyons was able to take a different approach during his senior season at Liberty and with great success. In a career-high 99.2 innings pitched, Lyons posted a 1.99 ERA. He struck-out a batter an inning (100) and walked just 22.
“This senior year, I was definitely more aggressive,” Lyons said a day after he was selected by the A’s. “Earlier in my career, I was definitely craftier. I didn’t have the power behind my pitches to get people out, so I stuck with my off-speed. This year, I was definitely more aggressive.”
Lyons’ breakout season landed him on the Louisville Slugger Division I All-American team and on scouts’ radar for the draft. Going into the draft, Lyons had heard that being selected in the 8-10 rounds was a possibility. However, when it was the A’s that called in round nine, he was definitely surprised. He says the A’s weren’t a team he had heard from leading into the draft.
“I’m glad that they called me,” Lyons said. “It’s a great opportunity. I’m just blessed and privileged to be able to get this chance to play at the next level of baseball.”
Lyons grew up admiring another left-hander with a good feel for his off-speed pitches and a fastball that rarely broke the 90 MPH barrier: Tom Glavine. Like Glavine, Lyons prides himself on his ability to mix his pitches and out-think the hitters. In addition to his fastball, Lyons has a deep arsenal of off-speed pitches that includes a change-up, a circle change-up and a slider.
Despite nearly doubling his previous career-high in innings pitched, Lyons says he feels ready physically to jump into the minor league season.
“I feel a lot stronger. This is probably the best I’ve ever felt in my four years at Liberty at the end of a season,” Lyons said. “I had a little fatigue at the end of the year, but it was something I was able to fight my way through.”
Lyons says he learned a lot from his four years pitching at Liberty.
“I learned to be humble in the sport,” Lyons said. “I’m thankful to have been able to even play Division I and being able to share that bond with my teammates and my friends, it helped me learn to respect the game.”
Lyons is looking forward to heading to Arizona to learn from the A’s coaching staff.
“I’m looking forward to learning what I need to do to be able to advance to the next level,” Lyons said.