BY STEVE KRAH
It’s been an exciting year so far for Tyler Beck.
In 2019, the South Bend (Ind.) St. Joseph High School graduate has contributed to a national championship team, received his college degree and began his professional baseball career.
A 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed pitcher, Beck spent the past two seasons at the University of Tampa (Fla.). He made 33 mound appearances, including 24 in 2019 when he was 3-3 with 10 saves and a 2.17 earned run average. In 54 innings, he recorded 71 strikeouts and 19 walks as the Trojans won the NCAA Division II national title.
“There were ups and downs during the season, but I was really enjoying baseball with my teammates,” says Beck, 23. “I had a decent year and that made it all the better.”
Joe Urso is Tampa’s head coach. Sam Militello is the pitching coach.
Urso insists that his players are intensely devoted to baseball.
“You have to have a fire for the game,” says Beck. “If you don’t have a big burning passion this game, it will eat you alive.
“It’s different than any other sport. It’s game of inches. Every single thing does count.”
Beck credits Militello with helping him break down hitters’ swings and throw the right pitches in the right situations.
“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had when it comes to pitch calling,” says Beck of Militello, who helped him develop his four-seam fastball, “spike” curveball, two-planed slider (there is some vertical break to it) and “circle” change-up (it moves like a split-fingered fastball but drops straight down).
In May, Beck graduated from Tampa in Human Performance with an Exercise Physiology concentration. This off-season, he is training athletes from age 8 to adult as a strength and conditioning coach at Strong Eight in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Beck has been working out himself since seventh grade and has done much research into training and gone through plenty of trial and error.
“My best quality as an athlete is my ability to want to get better,” says Beck. “I want to be that person I wish I had as a (strength and conditioning) mentor in high school.
“I want to be someone younger athlete can rely on. I want to guide them.”
While he’s doing that, he will also do his own conditioning in preparation for 2020 spring training. He was selected in the 30th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins and pitched in a combined 18 games (all in relief) with the Fort Myers (Fla.) Miracle, Gulf Coast League Twins and Elizabethton (Tenn.) Twins. He went 1-2 with one save, an 3.07 ERA, 43 strikeouts and 10 walks in 29 1/3 innings.
Beck, who was born in South Bend, began organized baseball at Warren Township Little League in Lydick, Ind., and played travel ball for the Newton Park Knockouts, Michiana Scrappers and Indiana Chargers.
He was part of the St. Joseph team that won the IHSAA Class 3A Plymouth Sectional in 2013 and graduated in 2014.
“It was a great time all the time,” said Beck of his experience playing for head coach John Gumpf and the Indians. “We had really good team chemistry.”
Beck won four baseball letters at St. Joe. He was a three-time all-Northern Indiana Conference honoree, earning first-team selection as a senior while hitting .422 and making the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series as a shortstop. He hit .416 and was second-team all-NIC as a junior.
After a redshirt season at Purdue University in 2015, Beck played two seasons (2016 and 2017) at Pasco-Hernando State College in New Port Richey, Fla. In 27 games (20 starts), he racked up 124 strikeouts 110 innings, including 58 K’s in 44 frames in 2017.
At the time, Steve Winterling was Bobcats head coach and Lyndon Coleman was an assistant.
“They taught me you have to do what you have to do — on and off the field,” says Beck. “Do what’s best for your player development (and education).
“You’ve got to take ownership.”
Tyler is the son of Terry Beck and Mike and Susan Battles of South Bend. Has two older siblings — half-brother Jeff Beck in Toledo, Ohio, and stepbrother Trevor Battles in Charleston, S.C.
Tyler Beck, a 2014 South Bend (Ind.) St. Joseph High School graduate, played his last two college baseball seasons at the University of Tampa (Fla.). The Trojans won the 2019 NCAA Division I national championship and right-handed pitcher Beck won three games and saved 10 and was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. (University of Tampa Photo)
Tyler Beck played at South Bend (Ind.) St. Joseph High School, Pasco-Hernando State College and the University of Tampa and is now a pitcher in the Minnesota Twins organization. (Elizabethton Twins Photo)