Ready For The Warhawks

By JOE McFARLAND

It wasn’t planned, but Tylor Jans managed to pack a spring worth of college career highlights into a matter of days.

The Edmonton righthander was off to a solid start with a Cloud County College team that had started the 2020 spring season off with a 14-4 record. Jans had accumulated three wins and one loss in his four appearances, striking out 18 batters in his first 17 innings of work.

Then the rug was pulled out from Jans and his teammates. As they were playing against Butler College on March 12, they found out the sports world was coming to a standstill in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It would put an abrupt end to Jans’ junior college career, but he didn’t have a lot of time to get caught up in the, “What could have been?” possibilities. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound hurler announced just a few days later that he was committing to the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM).

As it turns out, that quick approach is a bit of a trademark.

“He has an attack mentality and gets after hitters with his downhill fastball, an out pitch change up and a nasty curveball,” his former Prospects Academy coach Jordan Blundell said. “He works quick and doesn’t give hitters a chance to feel comfortable, which I love about the way he pitches.”

ULM is also a school that has attracted a few fellow Canadians to its roster, including Dawgs Academy grad Ryan Humeniuk and Ontario pitcher Lucas Wepf, who were both on the Warhawks roster this spring.

“Tylor has a presence on the mound,” Blundell continued. “ULM is getting a good one.”

We chatted with Jans for a recent episode of Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast and here is the full Q&A with him.

Q: Walk us through your decision to go to ULM.

A: It was a hard decision. I had a few Division 1 offers. It kind of came down to making whatever the right fit was for me. I was looking to improve my pitching a little bit and maybe get myself drafted here in the next couple of years, if that’s possible, or just to play professional baseball later on in the future.

Q: What was it about ULM that stuck out to you?

A: The coaches. They seemed to interact with me really well. They stayed in touch with me the most. They were always wondering how I was doing and wanting to move forward and jump to the next step on making the commitment for myself, which I really liked. They were also off to a really good start this year and they play in a really good conference, as well.

Q:  Talk a little bit about the recruitment process, because we know it’s different for everybody. When did you start getting the sense you were a bit of an attraction for some bigger schools?

A: Throughout last summer, I had a couple of phone calls and a couple of schools looking at me. And then we had the sophomore showcase that I was able to throw in and I threw pretty well there. Then I had a pretty good start to my season this year and a lot more teams were interested. I kept getting more calls each and every day. I was just sitting on offers and waiting for offers to fully come through and then you wait for that phone call.

Q: You spent the last couple of years at Cloud Community College. What was that experience like?

A: It was amazing. The coaches out at Cloud: Eric Gilliland, Kody Sindelar and T.J. Segebart, they’re really good. All the guys there were really good. It was a cool experience to get away from home and see how the baseball is in the Jayhawk West, which was really cool.

Q: It is interesting to see how Cloud always seems to attract a few Edmonton-area players to their program. That probably helps make the transition a little easier.

A: Yeah, we have a good connection with the Prospects Academy and a lot of guys had gone to Cloud through there. Everyone seems to show well when they go down there, so I think the coaches like that and are going to keep wanting the Edmonton kids if they going to keep doing well.

Q: One of the Edmonton guys who went through Cloud was Erik Sabrowski, who I know you’ve turned to from time to time. How integral has he been in some of your decision-making processes?

A: I’ve known Erik for a long time. He’s kind of been a role model for me. It’s really cool that he’s able to reach out to me and just let me know a bit about the program and let me know about Cloud, let me know about ULM. I’m just really thankful that I know him.

Q: That has to be a nice card to have in your back pocket, knowing a guy who has been drafted and who can provide that advice where needed?

A: Yeah, exactly. He’s always willing to give his best word to me and he’s always been that type of guy. I’m really appreciative of him.

Q: That’s awesome to hear. Let’s switch gears a little bit here and talk about your upbringing in the game of baseball. How did you end up playing the game in the first place?

A: Well, it was second-year PeeWee when I started and I played Triple-A and then I played bantam Triple-A both my years. I was also playing Triple-A hockey so I was very busy and then after my grade ten summer of playing midget Triple-A, my coach asked me to play with the Prospects so I had a big decision to either play only baseball or keep playing baseball and hockey. I went with just baseball and I feel like I went the right way, now knowing I’m heading to an NCAA Division 1 school for baseball.

Q: Was that a tough choice to make, especially knowing how the first choice usually is chasing the hockey dream here in Canada?

A: Yeah, it was a very, very hard choice. I was playing Triple-A hockey and I was getting looks at camps for Junior A and stuff at the time. I made the choice to just go with baseball and I think it was the right choice.

Q: Why make that choice? What was it about baseball that stuck out for you?

A: The nice weather and, I don’t know, I just fell in love with the game each and every day, more and more, baseball more than hockey.

Q: Were you always a pitcher?

A: No, I played third base in high school and then, at Cloud, I played first base and DH as well.

Q: Who would you single out as some of the people who have driven you or inspired you to be the best you can be?

A: Definitely Taylor Burns. I’ve been training with Taylor for quite some time, ever since I started with the Prospects. He has gotten me from throwing 79 miles an hour to up to 93 miles an hour, which is incredible and I thank him very much. Definitely Erik Sabrowski and all my coaches at Cloud. If I didn’t have those guys at Cloud, I don’t think I would be the guy I am today or the baseball player I am today.

Q: Speaking of Cloud, your season came an abrupt end just like many others because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Walk us through where you were when you started to hear rumblings that the season might be over and that you might be heading home.

A: Yeah, we were playing Butler Community College on a Thursday and we had just finished up game one. Right after first pitch of game two, a head guy from the Jayhawk West came over and said “this is the last day for baseball.” I was supposed to start the first game on Saturday and I was told to go right down to the bullpen to start throwing to get hot for this game, because it was the last game of the year.

Q: What was it like knowing you were pitching in the final game of the year, as unexpected as it was?

A: It was kind of a weird feeling because I wasn’t ready for the year to be done. We were only on our second week of conference. We still had seven or eight weeks to go. I wasn’t ready for baseball to be done yet.

Q: Then you have to make that decision to either stay around Cloud or head back home. What was it like to make that decision in the midst of all that’s going on in the world?

A: We had a bunch of meetings with our coaches and they told us what they were thinking. Each day went by and it seemed like the virus was getting worse and worse, so they left it up to us to decide on whether we wanted to go home or not. And the coach said those like me who had vehicles were welcome to just go home. My dad was more thinking that I should just come home as well while this is all going on. So I drove with one of my buddies from school who is from Edmonton and we drove all the way home on the 16th and a little bit of the 17th (of March) as well.

Q: What was that drive like?

A: It was long. We did 20 hours the first day. We left Cloud at 5:30 in the morning and got all the way to Lethbridge at about 2:30 (the next morning).

Q: What was the conversation like?

A: It was quiet for most of it. We were still in shock that we were leaving so soon in March when we thought we were going to be leaving at the end of May or June, depending on how the season went and everything.

Q: And now you’re back at home getting ready for the day that you can play baseball again. What are you doing to make sure you can stay on top of your game?

A: Right now, I’m just training six days a week. Working out, doing my running and stretching to keep my mobility and everything up. I’ve been throwing three or four times a week. Just starting to throw some flat grounds again. It probably won’t be off a mound for a little while or anything. That’s pretty much how my day goes, other than working on schoolwork for the next two weeks until school is done.

Q: How excited are you about the notion of maybe getting to play baseball again at some point, potentially, this summer?

A: Oh, very excited! I can’t wait for it to get going again. I hope this goes away and that we can get out there. Maybe even this summer, just an inning or two here and there, just to get baseball back under my feet again before I go down to school.

Q: How excited are you for that day when you can continue that post-secondary career at ULM?

A: Oh, I’m very excited. Louisiana looks like a very nice place. I’m excited to meet the guys as well. I know there are a couple of Canadians down there who have already reached out, telling me what to expect and how everything goes down there. I’m just really excited to get things going again.

Q: What did it mean to you to put pen to paper and sign that Letter of Intent?

A: It was a great day. I had been waiting for it for a long time. I was hoping to sign soon but the right offers just didn’t come. Louisiana came along and I thought it was the best offer I was going to get. I really liked that place and it was just great signing my name on that paper and knowing that I’m officially going there.

Q: My final question for you is: what does the game of baseball mean to you?

A: It means everything. I grew up more in a hockey family and then dad introduced baseball to me. Ever since that day, I can’t thank him enough for doing that because I have changed my entire life around just for baseball. I have become a better guy for baseball. I just love baseball and can’t wait to get going again.

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