2016 was a bit of a disappointing baseball season for the Diamond 'Dawgs, but one of the bright spots was the sometimes dominant pitching of Cordele right hander Robert Tyler. The 6'4, 226 pound junior tallied a 3-5 record with a 4.10 ERA, which may not sound that spectacular. Until you consider that opponents only batted .200 off him (3rd best in the SEC) and that he struck out 89 batters in only 74.2 innings of work, while carrying two no-hitters past the sixth inning before getting pulled. When he was on, Tyler was among the most unhittable pitchers in the SEC.
That probably explains why the Colorado Rockies saw fit to make him the 38th overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft. Tyler could still return to Georgia for his senior season if he wants, though the Rockies should have a good chunk of change available to lure him away.
While he struggled at times with control, Tyler has a world class fastball that high-fives triple digits and consistently hits 92-94. His change up can be effective as well, though he really needs to develop a solid third pitch. He also missed some time with arm trouble as a sophomore and has sort of a torquing delivery that seems like it would make him an injury risk going forward. But he's improved tremendously over his time in Athens and has room to get even better.
Tyler's impending departure is expected, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Coach Scott Stricklin has a lot of work to do in his pitching rotation before next spring. Tyler's fellow junior starter, lefty Connor Jones, should also get a call during the draft and will have a decision to make. Senior starting pitcher Heath Holder is graduating, along with reliever Mike Mancuso. While several young pitchers stepped up big time in 2016, Tyler, Jones, and Holder were the clear top three workhorses in terms of innings pitched at over 70.0 apiece.
While it's great to see Tyler recognized for his work, Stricklin needs young hurlers like Addison Albright and Kevin Smith to step into his shoes now.