— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) June 5, 2014
17-year-old Texas native, Tyler Kolek has been chosen as the second overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft by the Miami Marlins. The high schooler has drawn a large following due to his large size (6-feet 2, 250 pounds) and ability to throw the ball at such high speeds, managing to get the nickname “flamethrower.”
Here’s what you need to know about the right-handed pitcher:
1. He’s the Second Overall Pick in the Draft
— Area Code Baseball (@ACBaseballGames) June 3, 2014
The Miami Marlins were lucky that the Houston Astros, who had been heavily scouting Kolek went with Brady Aiken instead as the first pick. The Marlins snatched up Kolek in the second round after watching him progress in the past year.
We worked through a lot of things. We had it down to six guys we liked, then narrowed it down to four and probably the last day settled on it. Some other guys we had interest, too, but in the end we targeted this as our guy and we thought it would happen. But Houston picking first and that being his state you always get nervous, but they got who they wanted and we feel grateful for who we got.”
2. He Can Throw it Over 100 MPH
Harold Reynolds just said Tyler Kolek is going to keep gaining velocity, topping out at 105. Off to a good start. #MLBDraft
— Ron (@Rontrarian) June 5, 2014
Although Kolek averages about 96 mph, he has proven that he has the ability to throw it much harder than that. Radar have clocked in at up to 105 mph. When Miami went to go scout the Shephard High star, their radars shot up to 102 mph on his pitches.
Big strong physical right-hander with three pitches, and we think for a big guy he’s got solid control of his fastball, powerful breaking ball and we’ve seen the guy throw up to three digits velocity. Power body and a power arm and just a power package guy.”
3. He Hasn’t Graduated High School Yet
Kolek is just 17 years old and will be forced to make a decision to go to college or the major leagues. This past spring, Kolek had become famous in his hometown and in surrounding towns near Shephard High School in Texas when he threw the ball up to 105 miles per hour. Not only is he a spectacle on the mound, but he has been followed around by over 20 scouts at a time, all pointing their radar guns across the infield.
Kolek’s ERA by the end of the spring season this year was a .36, with 126 strikeouts and 8 walks over the span of 60 1/3 innings pitched. It came to the point where the fans of opposing teams would cheer loudly if one of their players even made contact with one of his pitches.
4. He Was About to Commit to TCU
— Brett Wright(@WrightBrett11) June 5, 2014
Kolek signed a letter-of-intent with Texas Christian University in November 2013. Now that he has been drafted, he is not quite looking to still head to college, but his decision is still unknown. Either way, it isn’t looking good for TCU.
5. He Idolizes Nolan Ryan
Great way to end my last high school game, meeting the greatest pitcher in the game and more importantly my idol. pic.twitter.com/rBb3IekSqe
— tylerkolek (@tylerkolek) May 2, 2014
Hall of famer Nolan Ryan who was also a right-handed pitcher was seen in the stands at one of Kolek’s games. He attended the game with Bo Porter, the manager of the Houston Astros.
Nolan said of Kolek:
I thought he threw the ball well, and that’s really all you can go by. You can’t go by what happens in the games.”
Kolek had the chance to meet Ryan after the game, later saying in an interview with Chron.com:
I still can’t believe I just met him. I’ll never forget this moment. To meet the guy I’ve looked up to my entire childhood, it will stick with me the rest of my life.”