Young Byrd Learning New Tricks

Darren Byrd came to the Phillies in the 18th round of this past June's draft. Being drafted out of high school, Byrd knows that there's a lot to learn and he's getting on-the-job training in the Gulf Coast League. He'll get even more work in the Florida Instructional League this fall as a member of the Phillies squad of players spending off-season time in Clearwater.

What is it that Darren Byrd wants people to know about his season in the Gulf Coast League? Darren Byrd wants you to know that his success is a result of work with pitching coach Carlos Arroyo. "Thanks to my pitching coach for all the hard work he has put in with me. It's paid off," says Byrd.

That was a key part of a discussion with the 18 year old Byrd.

Byrd is 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA in seven games in the GCL this season. It's a strong start for a kid out of high school and Byrd thinks he knows the reason why he's started strong. "I feel a lot better. I feel like I've come a long way since I got out of school," said Byrd. "I used to be more of a 3/4 pitcher and the coach is trying to move me more up top to take advantage of my height, it has paid off for me."

Arroyo has also worked on another key part of Byrd's delivery. "I used to rush and he (Arroyo) has me staying back. That has helped me out a lot, especially in getting ahead of hitters," remarked Byrd.

Byrd features a fastball that touches 90 m.p.h. at times, but it's his slider that is his bread and butter.

Some young kids have a tough time adjusting to life away from home, but for Byrd, he's enjoying the time away. "It is good getting away from home. My Dad and my Mom have both made visits to see me and it has been nice because I had not seen them in a few months. It's nice to see familiar faces."

Byrd will finish up his season in the GCL and then take part in the Florida Instructional League. After that, it's back to a more mundane life. "After that I will probably get a job and work out." What kind of a job will Byrd look for? "I used to do telemarketing and I catered weddings," said Byrd.

For now though, Byrd is focused on the task at hand and the big picture down the road. So, where will he be in five years? "In the major leagues with the Phillies," believes Byrd. With the start that he's off to, it's not out of the question that we could be talking about Byrd jumping to the big leagues in the not too distant future. Of course, between now and then, there is a lot of work for Byrd to do. The good news is that he's able to handle whatever is thrown at him and he has the mentality and talent to face challenges head on.

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