All in all, the 2009 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft was a special moment for Tyler Sturdevant.
Of course, the 2004 Chatfield Senior High School graduate was a little disappointed with his draft position (27th round), but just the fact he was drafted alone was reason to celebrate.
Sturdevant suffered an elbow injury his sophomore year at New Mexico State University that required Tommy John surgery, and forced him to miss two years of action. He returned to the Aggies this past season and the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Sturdevant shined on the pitching mound, compiling a 7-6 record with a 6.75 ERA, striking out 69 batters in 88 innings of work.
“It makes it that much sweeter when you know how much you’ve been through,” said Sturdevant, who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians and immediately shipped off to their short-season Single A team in Mahoning Valley, Penn. “To miss two seasons of college ball because of one injury was tough. My coaches and training staff stuck with me at New Mexico State and my parents were super-supportive.”
Sturdevant is just the latest in a line of players from south Jefferson County that have made their way to the professional ranks, joining the likes of Columbine’s Evan Anundsen (who threw a no-hitter earlier this year) and Dakota Ridge’s Chad Jacobsen and Drew Bowman.
“I think it shows that (south Jeffco) breeds pretty good talent,” said Sturdevant, who grew up playing alongside Jacobsen and Bowman. “Chatfield has actually been better the past two years than they have been the past four or five years. I know there’s more talent coming out of there now than when I was playing in high school.”
Since being drafted, Sturdevant has already had to make one big adjustments; getting used to pitching out of the bullpen.
Sturdevant actually began his college career as a closer before moving into the starting rotation. His first start at New Mexico State was against one of the most-storied clubs in college baseball – Arizona State.
“They definitely threw me right into the fire,” Sturdevant said.
Moving to the bullpen requires a change in one’s mind set, according to Sturdevant.
“If you have a rough two-to-three innings as a starter, you know you can make up for it later on,” Sturdevant said. “As a reliever, you have to turn it on almost immediately. The room for error is much smaller.”
As for facing batters toting wood instead of aluminum, it’s not as big a change as one might expect.
“The skill level is, of course, the best I’ve seen since I started playing baseball,” Sturdevant said. “I’m so impressed with what guys can do with wood bats; these guys can do the same thing with wood as they can with aluminum.
“With wood bats, you can be more aggressive on the mound and can get away with a little more. But, you have to hit your spots, regardless.”
Mahoning Valley’s season just got underway last week, but already, Sturdevant is enjoying his time.ee“It’s awesome,” Sturdevant said. “I can’t complain about anything. I’m doing what I love. I go out, work hard and do exactly what I want to do and get paid for it.”