TCN 2013 Cardinals Prospect #35: Tyler Lyons

The left-hander has risen through the ranks relatively quickly and quietly. What lies ahead?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

School: Oklahoma State University

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NR LHS 2/21/1988 6-2 205 B L 2010 9th

Selected 2012 stats

SPR 5 4 3.92 3.67 12 12 0 64.1 70 33 6 19 54 1.60 0.280 0.330
MEM 4 9 4.28 3.19 15 15 0 88.1 87 42 9 18 89 0.62 0.258 0.315
Total 9 13 4.13   27 27 0 152 157 75 15 37 143 0.94 0.267  

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (30): Lyons seems to be one of the Cardinals' most underrated pitching prospects. Despite similar overall numbers to the more heralded John Gast (I use him as a comparison as both are left handed), Lyons seems to get no love.

Lyons has moved quickly through the system. He did not pitch after being drafted in 2010, yet hit Triple-A mid-year in his second season of pitching as a professional.

Lyons doesn't blow people away but his low 90's fastball seems to be at least average for lefthanders these days. What catches the eye though is his over 4:1 K:BB ratio last year while striking out nearly a batter an inning. The negative seems to be that he gives up a lot of home runs though he improved on that considerably towards the end of 2012.

Lyons was a starter at Triple-A in 2012 and would seemingly return there in 2013 unless the Cards decide to groom him as a lefty relief specialist. And while 2013 spring training invitations have not been announced yet, I won't be surprised to see Lyons on the list.

Message board community (40): Lyons was the community's 40th prospect this year, a slight drop from 36th last year. The lefty is 24 and already in Memphis in just his second year pitching in the minors.

At Memphis, Lyons struck out 32 lefties in just 26 1/3 innings against them, with six walks and 24 hits. That's not dramatically different from his numbers versus righties, with 57 strikeouts, 12 walks, and 63 hits in 62 innings. His ERA improved from 7.47 in June to 4.03 in July to 3.12 in August. I don't want to make too much of this, but he did cut his homers allowed from six in July to one in August, so perhaps he is refining his command.

He doesn't have that many innings under his belt, despite having reached Triple-A. Lyons has been a starter in the minors, but there are a lot of good young starters in or near the big leagues, so it will be tough for him to find a spot in the Cards' rotation. He could be converted to the pen, but in Choate (I really wanted to find a way to use that phrase), Lyons has yet another lefty ahead of him on the depth chart. Still, lefty pitchers who reach Triple-A at 24 have a way of making it to the majors. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (41): When I asked a coach who saw Lyons regularly his assessment of the lefty, his reply was that Lyons is in a "progression," with the majors a logical endpoint if improvement continues. That seems appropriate.

His results – in terms of strikeouts, strikeout to walk ratio, opponent's batting average and innings pitched per start – all improved as he moved up from Double-A to Triple-A.

Though it is old news now, Lyons was selected by the Cardinals to pitch in the Arizona Fall League in 2011. That was coming off his professional debut at Palm Beach. Despite being less-experienced than most of his peers, Lyons pitched credibly as a starter.

Having said that, Lyons may not have clear sailing ahead. He is reaching the narrowest part of the pyramid with considerable competition surrounding him. Looking at the Roster Matrix, he is one of eight left-handers on the tentative Memphis roster, and is one of four lefty starters. It remains unclear to me whether or not his stuff is good enough to take him past the others.

Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Monthly and quarterly subscribers who upgrade to our annual pass will receive in the spring the 2013 FOX Sports NEXT Prospects Guide, a $4.95 value, for FREE. The perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days" includes the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

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