More college pitching! This time we turn to University of Georgia right-hander Robert Tyler, who entered the spring season as something of an enigma but who has developed well enough to put himself into first round consideration.
Tyler attended high school in Cordele, Georgia, impressing scouts with his raw arm strength. He had single-digit round possibilities but fell to the 28th round in 2013 due to questions about signability. He turned down the Baltimore Orioles in that spot, then turned in an excellent freshman season in 2014, posting a 2.68 ERA in 81 innings with a 64/22 K/BB, allowing only 60 hits.
A vaguely-described arm injury limited Tyler to just six starts and 24 innings in 2015, resulting in a 5.24 ERA, a 29/11 K/BB, and questions about his draft status for 2016. A strong stint for Team USA last summer (one run in nine innings, 7/4 K/BB, strong velocity readings) eased doubts, then he's answered many of the remaining questions this spring, staying healthy and making 14 starts with 75 frames on the docket. Results have been inconsistent but intriguing: 4.10 ERA due to an elevated walk rate (46 BB), but with 89 strikeouts and just 53 hits allowed.
Listed at 6-4, 225, Tyler is young for a junior at age 20, born June 15, 1995. He throws quite hard, consistently at 94-96 with peaks at 98-99. His second pitch is a strong change-up that earns 55-60 grades. He also features an inconsistent breaking ball. Early this spring it received solid-average grades and he did a great job throwing strikes with all three pitches, but as the season has progressed the breaking ball has been erratic, his command has slipped, and his walk rate has risen.
At his best Tyler throws a nasty fastball and two good secondary pitches, making him a potential rotation member. It remains to be seen if the arm troubles will recur and he needs to be more consistent overall. His excellent K/IP and H/IP rates testify to the quality of his stuff. The upside package is still strong enough to make him a first round contender.