Former coaches discuss local baseball standouts who have been drafted
Five former high school baseball standouts from Michiana have been drafted into the major leagues in the past ten years. Their former coaches explain what made each player stand out from the rest.
Former Elkhart Central Coach Steve Stutsman remembers Tanner Tully fondly.
A star pitcher for Elkhart Central, he helped lead the Blue Blazers to a 4A state championship.
“He was the whole show,” Stutsman said. “Tanner was our leadoff hitter of course. I think he took strike one took a ball then third pitch of the game he hit a line drive over right field.”
That was just the beginning of his career.
Tully was recruited by Ohio State and drafted by the now-Cleveland Guardians.
At Penn High School, Head Coach Greg Dikos coached not just one big league slugger, but two.
The Oakland Athletics drafted pitcher Skyler Szynski straight out of high school.
“We had ten to twelve scouts at every game watching him. It was really a neat atmosphere for everyone,” Coach Dikos said.
His teammate, first baseman Niko Kavadas, also found success. First at Notre Dame, then with the Boston Red Sox.
“One thing about Niko was his passion for the game, it was second to none. He was such a great example, we still use him as an example of how intense he was in batting practice. He was always the first one to get there in the cages and he was always the last one to leave in the batting cages. Based on his career you can see how it paid off,” Coach Dikos said.
Riley Tirotta was a four-year starter for the Marian Knights. He didn't have a lot of scouts following him -- at first.
Marian Head Coach Joe Turnock says a game against Penn High School and Skyler Szynksi changed that.
“There were a lot of scouts that were here to watch Skyler pitch and Riley had a pretty good game that day, believe he had a couple like a triple, maybe a couple of doubles that he squared some balls off of the kid. Obviously, that was a draft pick. So I think, you know, some scouts may had put some notes down on Riley at that point in time,” said Coach Turnock.
The Minnesota Twins drafted former St. Joseph Indian Tyler Beck after he won a D-2 national championship at the University of Tampa.
But Indians Head Coach John Smolinski says he knew early on Beck was special.
“I can remember Tyler Beck’s first practice his sophomore year. At the old school we had a little area where we took batting practice where the ball exploded off his bat. I mean as a sophomore you could tell he was going to be a great ballplayer. He had great leadership qualities as a sophomore and it carried on his whole entire career,” Coach Smolinski said.
Tyler Beck actually had a bit of a homecoming when the South Bend Cubs played the Cedar Rapid Kernels last July.
As he took to the mound at Four Winds Field, dozens of family and friends were here to cheer him on.