Scouting Yankees Prospect #32: Tyler Webb

The Yankees drafted left-handed pitcher Tyler Webb in the 10th round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of the University of South Carolina. Baseball insiders believed he could be a quick riser through the minor leagues upon his selection and he did exactly that, pitching at three different levels in his first full season last year and advancing all the way to Triple-A.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Tyler Webb
Position: Pitcher
DOB: July 20, 1990
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 225
Bats: Right
Throws: Left

He followed up his solid professional debut season in 2013 [3-1 with three saves, a 3.31 ERA, a nearly a five to one strikeout to walk ratio, and a .189 batting average against over two minor league levels] with an equally solid first full season last year, posting a combined 3.80 ERA with twelves saves and 94 strikeouts in 68.2 innings over three minor league levels.

"I thought it went great," Webb said. "I had a pretty good year, moved fast, I was pretty successful. I don't think it could have gone much better to tell you the truth."

At least from an ascension standpoint it could not have gone any better for the towering southpaw. Advancing three minor league levels is quite the feat, especially going from A-ball to Triple-A in the span of one summer.

"Yeah I'd say it was a little bit of a surprise," he admitted. "I was throwing well but I didn't think I was necessarily throwing that well but I was getting outs and I guess it was the perfect opportunity -- things have to fall your way to get moved up regardless -- I guess it was the perfect storm of me throwing well and there were openings. I guess it was a little bit of luck and me throwing well at the same time."

The fact is he did what he had always done; he threw strikes with three big league pitches and continued to work on the one area of his game that needs the most work.

"The whole year I was really working on getting a breaking ball and it really didn't get to where I wanted it to be so I had to go to Instructs to keep working on it," he said. "From now though to where it started in the beginning of the year [last season] it's vastly improved.

"I think there were little tweaks along the way that helped in all aspects of my game. I wouldn't say there was anything really drastic other than trying to find a breaking ball that worked for me."

Known predominantly as a fastball-changeup guy coming out of college, two seasons into his professional career not much has changed in that regard. While it is true that the slider is better today than it was when he first signed, bettering it is still the main focal point in his development.

"It was almost like it would get bigger and slower so we were just trying to find a grip where I could throw it like a true slider instead of this slurvy, almost curveball-slider hybrid thing. The main focus was making it break late and trying to keep some velo on it, and it proved to be a pretty big challenge. As of right now I at least have a better grasp of it than I did going into last year.

"I definitely left Instructs with a lot more confidence in it and I'm excited to get back down there in Spring Training and hopefully pick up where I left off down there. We'll see. As of right now it feels good. Fingers-crossed that it's still there but I'm pretty confident it will be."

His slider did improve but not to the point where it was a consistent plus pitch. And his fastball velocity still remained mostly in the 90-94 mph range too. So how exactly did he strike out better than twelve batters per nine innings pitched without the benefit of a true "plus" pitch in his arsenal?

"To tell you the truth I'm not too sure," he candidly said. "I've talked to a few of our pitching coaches who have said the fastball plays up a little bit.

"I guess hitters don't really see it that well and maybe the 90-92s look a little harder than they are. I guess I'm hiding the ball well and I'm going to do my best to keep hiding it. I haven't done anything drastically different.

"I just think it was a combination [of pitches]. I threw a lot of strikes and relied on my catchers. Pretty much every step of the way I had great catchers.

"They called a great game and I was just out there trying to execute pitches, and usually when I did that I had great results. I'd say it was a combination of executing pitches and them calling a really good game."

In true 'the sum being greater than its parts' fashion, Webb has used a trio of big league pitches to keep hitters off-balance. That's not to say he doesn't believe his stuff can continue to improve though. In fact, it's quite the contrary. He believes a more consistent slider is the missing piece from making him an even more effective pitcher.

"Yeah I believe so. I feel like I have pretty good command of my fastball and my changeup is definitely my best offspeed pitch right now.

"I just think if I have a decent breaking ball that I can throw for strikes when I need to and locate it a little bit better -- sometimes last year it was a good pitch but I couldn't throw it for a strike when needed to as often as I needed to.

"I think getting a more consistent breaking ball where I know where it's going all of the time that would be the biggest thing, that I need to work on."

His 2014 campaign was a great season and he realizes duplicating that success may be a tough act to follow. But with 17 Triple-A appearances under his belt, however, Webb is already closing in on being big league ready and he's confident he can help out the big league club if called upon.

"I definitely think so. It's a little overwhelming when you think of it like that but my mindset coming in is doing what I did last year, pitch as well as possible, and if things work out they work out.

"There are a lot of things that aren't in your control so I'm going to focus on what I can control and let everything else fall into place. If it does, great. If it doesn't I'm going to keep throwing as well as I possibly can and that's all I can really do," he concluded.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2014

Scranton

2-0

2

20.0

17

7

26

4.05

2014

Trenton

1-6

7

35.2

35

14

51

4.04

2014

Tampa

0-0

4

13.0

7

1

17

2.77

2013

Charleston

3-1

2

30.1

24

6

40

3.86

2013

Staten Island

0-0

1

5.0

0

2

8

0.00



Repertoire. Fastball, Changeup, Slider.

Fastball. Webb doesn't look like much on the radar gun, averaging mostly 91-92 mph with his four-seam fastball and ranging 90-94 mph overall. However, he generates a lot of deception from his 6-foot-6 frame and effortless delivery. His release point is further along than most other pitchers just due to his size, he gets excellent downward angle with his fastball, and it has a lot of late life so it gets in on batters seemingly harder than it really does. Throw in above average command of his fastball, the kind that can paint all four quadrants, his seemingly above average fastball actually plays a level up. At his size too there's always the chance of adding a tick or two on his fastball someday.

Other Pitches. Where Webb has quietly made the most progress is with his changeup. He had a solid one entering professional baseball but he didn't use it much in college and the more he's used it in the pros the better it has gotten. Grading out more as an above average/fringy plus pitch, just like his fastball his changeup gets good late life and has some fade and depth to it. In fact, it's a major reason why he's been more effective against right-handed batters thus far in his career. He rounds out his repertoire with a breaking ball that can range anywhere from below average to even slightly above average. It will range anywhere from 75 to 84 mph and the slower it is the less effective it is, and he doesn't really have full control over the speed or the command of it yet. When it's going right it's a good strikeout pitch against lefties but there is still work to be done making it a consistent weapon.

Pitching: Webb is a rare relief pitcher indeed. Despite his larger frame, he is more about deception and mixing in three big league average or better pitches for strikes than he is overpowering batters with a two-pitch arsenal. The extensive repertoire, one more of a starting pitcher than a normal one-inning reliever, is what also aids his deception; right-handed batters aren't used to seeing changeups from late-inning, left-handed relievers. He also pounds the lower half of the strike zone so when he does miss he usually misses down in the zone and therefore limits damage that way. He doesn't beat himself on the mound either, usually pitching ahead in counts. Quiet but confident and humble too, he is all business on the mound and does not let his emotions get the best of him.

Projection. Webb's size, extensive repertoire, and success against right-handed batters could make him an intriguing starting pitching candidate if the Yankees ever decided to go that route, but already Triple-A tested as a reliever that conversion seems less likely with each passing year. As it stands right now the whole package gives the Yankees a multitude of role options; he could spot emergency start, he could be a long man out of the bullpen, or be a viable middle relief option too. Should the slider come along though and become a more consistent weapon, and/or should he add a tick or two on to an already very effective fastball, there's also some Boone Logan-like potential as a big league setup man down the road as well.

ETA. 2015. The Yankees more than ever have some viable big league left-handed bullpen options so it affords Webb a bit more time to perfect his slider. He'll get that chance back in Triple-A to start the 2015 season and from there he will be just a phone call away from being in the big leagues.


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