The Tyler Uberstine Story
July 27, 2021
Photo credit: Dave Kennedy/Williamsport Crosscutters
Growing up in California with a father who represents Pete Carroll as an agent, Tyler Uberstine always dreamed of attending the University of Southern California -- palm trees, football games at The Coliseum, and a short subway ride to Hollywood. But while Uberstine, a right-hander who threw for the Williamsport Crosscutters in the MLB Draft League this summer, was living out his dream, there was one major issue: he wasn’t playing baseball at USC. He was just a “regular” business student.
Uberstine stood out in the Draft League this summer with a fastball that sat 92-94 mph. But when he graduated from high school, the last thing the future 19th-round pick could have imagined was the Boston Red Sox selecting him in the MLB Draft.
The Manhattan Beach, Calif., native played on Chaminade College Prep’s junior varsity team as a high school junior before finally making the varsity team in his senior year. But Uberstine pitched only seven innings his entire high school career, and as a 5-foot-8, 135-pound right-hander with a fastball sitting 70-75 mph, he received no college offers.
“I was really smart, I had a 4.4 GPA. I wanted to go somewhere really academic and obviously wanted to play baseball, but baseball didn’t really workout in that sense,” said Uberstine. “I reached out to a bunch of high academic Division III programs, thinking that’s at least reasonable, and they just continuously pushed me aside, which is completely understandable looking back on it.”
Uberstine stepped onto USC’s campus in the fall of 2017 and focused strictly on academics during his first semester before his roommate suggested that he play for the school’s club team. He made the team, but the lack of competitiveness drove him away -- a decision that could have very well marked the end of his baseball career.
It was at this point that Uberstine began to develop physically, growing to 5-foot-9, 150 pounds as he continued to throw with his roommate. And as his fastball velocity began to creep into the upper 70s, Uberstine realized that he needed to decide whether he wanted to continue pursuing a career in baseball.
During the second semester of his freshman year, Uberstine set a goal of walking onto the Trojans’ baseball team in the fall. He began working out and lifting weights, but, most importantly, he started taking a 90-minute Uber ride, three times per week, to PFA Baseball Facility to work with former big leaguer David Coggin.
“I started Uber-ing there before school. I would get up at 5:00 a.m., Uber an hour and a half, workout and throw, then Uber back for classes starting at 9:30 a.m.,” said Uberstine. “It was crazy, but it was what I had to do. I didn’t have a car and Coggin was the best around, so I had to do it.”
Woking with Coggin, Uberstine started to piece everything together on the mound. He continued to grow and mature, and his fastball began trending towards college-level velocity.
When Uberstine wasn’t working with Coggin, he would stretch out his arm and throw with his roommate at midnight on the top level of the parking structure since it was the only place still lit. That became the usual for Uberstine, in part because he felt embarrassed to be that “non-varsity athlete” training and throwing so competitively.
Uberstine found it difficult at times to maintain a high GPA while also being committed to the process of walking onto a PAC12 program, but he still practiced and worked out with the team the entire fall of his sophomore year.
“I went into the first intrasquad with USC throwing 83-85 mph. I walked out of that game and said to myself, ‘There’s no shot I make this team,’” said Uberstine. “After working with them that entire fall, I was 86-88, topping 89 heading into the winter break.
“I hadn’t been cut yet when I returned from winter break and so I thought I had made the team. I got a custom glove, did media day photos, got a jersey and all that stuff,” Uberstine added. “I kept playing all January and February and then was cut the day before the season started.”
By this point, Uberstine was sitting around 87-89 mph and touching the 90s, finally showing the stuff to match his longstanding pitchability. As those two components of his game continued to converge, Uberstine started searching for a high-academic Division I program.
He emailed Northwestern’s coach and found a mutual interest in the Wildcats even though the team didn’t have an open roster spot at that time. Uberstine was told if a player was drafted, then he would take their spot. But, in May, he received a phone call with news that it was unlikely the player he was set to replace would play pro ball the following season.
Uberstine was discouraged but, without anywhere else to go, he continued to work. Not long after, he touched 93 mph for the first time and spun his fastball around 2500 rpm during a filmed bullpen session. Uberstine sent the video to Northwestern’s coach and received the following response:
“WE WANT YOU AT NORTHWESTERN!”
With some newly developed velocity, Tyler Uberstine has accepted an offer to play baseball at Northwestern. Congrats! pic.twitter.com/94KFjbAWvV— Beimel Elite Athletics (@BEliteAthletes) May 16, 2019
And so the kid who couldn’t throw harder than 75 mph in high school finally realized his dream of playing Division I baseball -- in the BigTen, to boot.
But once he began pitching for Northwestern in the spring of 2020, Uberstine immediately shifted his focus towards playing at the professional level.
His coming-out party came that February when he allowed three runs on two hits in five innings while striking out six against powerhouse South Carolina.
“I don’t think it really started to sink in until after my first year, the COVID year,” Uberstine said. “No one knew about me, and then all of a sudden there’s a kid at Northwestern who’s throwing mid-to-low 90s and dominating South Carolina. That’s when I first started hearing a little buzz about me and when I truly began to think I had a shot at playing pro ball.”
Now, about 18 months after that outing against South Carolina, and following two years in a Wildcats uniform, Uberstine’s fastball is sitting comfortably at 92-94 mph with an average spin rate of 2520 rpm. Physically, the right-hander now stands at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds.
Pitching for the Crosscutters this summer, Uberstine posted a 4.00 ERA with nine strikeouts in as many innings. He did not issue a walk. On July 13, the third and final day of the ‘21 Draft, Uberstine heard his name called by the Red Sox in the 19th round.
My journey has been anything but ordinary, but today’s milestone is just the beginning. So proud to join the Red Sox, and so thankful to all who supported and helped me along the way! pic.twitter.com/0aqUXj4y9d— Tyler Uberstine (@tylerubie21) July 24, 2021
And while Uberstine’s college experience was far from what he had expected, it could not have worked out any better.
“If someone told me when I got to USC that I would be drafted one day, I wouldn’t have believed that at all,” acknowledged Uberstine. “I thought I had made the team that sophomore year at USC and I was fully prepared to sit on the bench and not play.”
Now, the Northwestern graduate can finally call himself a professional baseball player after recently signing his contract with Boston.
Whatever Uberstine's future in the professional ranks may bring, the right-hander has shown that he has the resiliency and determination needed to overcome any odds.
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