The Myrtle Beach Pelicans have had their fair share of pitching blues this season between trades, injuries and those who just need a bit of guidance to improve their game. You might not be familiar with his name, but the Pelicans have had the advantage of possessing an almost secret weapon in their bullpen. Let me introduce you to Tyler Peyton.
The Cubs selected the right-hander in the 29th round of the 2016 MLB draft out of the University of Iowa. He was previously selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 33rd round of the 2015 draft, but opted to continue his college education.
One of Myrtle Beach's few right-handed relief pitchers, Peyton has become a name that has crept up on Cubs fans radars based on a fairly solid season. "I think it's been a success this far into the season, mostly because I've dealt with injuries in the past," Peyton said as he reflected on his season thus far. "I'm just trying to make it through the season healthy and strong, and so far it's been a success."
Peyton has consistently built off his 2017 season with South Bend by making improvements in just about every area of his game in 2018 with Myrtle Beach. In 33 appearances for the Pelicans this season, the righty has pitched 61 innings sporting a 2.51 ERA. He has struck out 49 while walking 28 and has only surrendered one home run all season.
One of the most notable positive changes in his game has been the increase in his velocity. Peyton notes that velocity increases but the ability to control a certain pitch is always an important skill for a pitcher to learn. "Being able to locate [my pitch] has probably been the biggest key this year to working both sides of the plate with my fastball," he explained.
As the result of a solid first half of the season, Peyton was named to the Carolina League All Star team, representing the Pelicans along with teammates Aramis Ademan and Jhonny Perada. He was able to reconnect with a teammate from college at the game, and overall enjoyed his experience. "It was just a good time with all the rest of the guys having their great seasons," said Peyton.
Peyton has conquered low-A and high-A ball, so it's likely that he will begin 2019 with double-A Tennessee. The 24-year-old is currently just two steps away from being a big leaguer. Just making it to AAA and putting on an Iowa Cubs jersey would be a childhood dream. Peyton's hometown is just 15 minutes from Des Moines. Family and friends would certainly pack the stands at Principal Park to see their hometown boy take the mound.
"As a kid, I always sat in those games each year at the I-Cubs games and it was always a fun experience," recalled Peyton. "I never thought it would come to a point where I could play for the team and now that it's a possibility, it would be a dream come true to be able to play in that town."
For now, Peyton still has about two weeks left with the Pelicans and wants to focus on consistency, as well as the mobility of his lower body. It may only be August, but he's already thinking about what he wants to focus on during the offseason: "Maybe locate my fastball a little better and get my slider and off speed pitches over for strikes more consistently."
If he can conquer those goals than he just might reach those childhood dreams sooner than later.