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Exclusive Interview: The Journey of Marlins Pitcher Tyler Bremer
- Updated: April 7, 2017
There is something intriguing about professional baseball players who pay their dues in the minors, the guys that keep their head down and go to work day in and day out, year after year, and constantly work towards their goal of becoming big league ball players. When you factor in successful performances on the field, community involvement, and a strong faith in God, then that player becomes downright inspiring. These are the players that deserve to have their story told.
I first heard about Tyler Bremer when I was reading an article on Legends On Deck by David Conde titled Keep On Playing: Bridging The Gap, With The Love of Baseball. Even though he has had a very successful professional career, the more I learned about Bremer, the more intrigued I became with the experiences his baseball journey has given him.
I started all the way back in the beginning during my conversation with Bremer, asking him to tell me a little about his Berkeley days and how his motivation to play baseball began. He played the usual sports we all did growing up, but when he got to high school is when he decided baseball was his thing. “High school is really when I decided to go after baseball and start pitching lessons” Bremer told me.
He was almost destined to become a pitcher, but wanted to craft his own game, not mold it after someone else’s. “Growing up in the bay area, I got to see the Oakland A’s when I was in middle school and high school when they had Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Dan Haren, and Rich Harden. Watching those guys be the best staff in baseball for a few years was something I always looked up to. I was always a big Roger Clemens fan, I liked how he always got after it. I really always tried to pave my own way in the game though.”
Pave his own way he did, growing up in Berkeley and being the son of not one, but two parents that attended Cal, it might have seemed a little odd when Bremer verbally committed to continue his baseball career at Stanford. He played for three different schools during his days as a student-athlete, but Stanford was not one of them.
He began his journey at UC Davis and when I asked about his college career, he told me “At Davis I was playing in a smaller conference against a bunch of guys I had grown up playing against. I was looking for something a little more out of baseball and that was when I transferred to Yavapai Junior College.”
When we were discussing his time at Yavapai, it was clear that Bremer had a great experience there. He told me about how Yavapai helped him grow off the field just as much as on it. “Going up to this small town and playing for Coach Sky Smeltzer who lived and breathed baseball, he kind of turned that 18 year old kid into a man. He (Coach Smeltzer) was all about going out and taking care of business and making sure you gave your team 7 or 8 innings.”
Once we got to talking about Baylor, it was clear that Bremer was extremely proud to be a Bear. “There was a connection between Yavapai and Baylor at the time and I took a visit and fell in love with the school. I had a couple teammates there that I played with in the previous summer, so it was a good way to not have to start completely over for the third time in three years. I can’t say enough about Baylor, I grew a lot as a person and in my faith there. Being there has a lot to do with the player and the man I am today.”
Before we could move onto his professional career, I had to ask Bremer about his time in the Northwoods League with the Eau Claire Express. He is solidified in the Northwoods history books as he became the first and only pitcher to throw a no hitter in league history. Don’t worry, it gets better. When asked about the experience Bremer had an awesome story to share about the following summer when he wasn’t even on the team. “One of my teammates from Yavapai went that next summer and he texted me one day and said,” ‘Guess what I did last night’. Bremer thought to himself “there is no way this kid threw a no hitter.”
He searched the web, and saw the headlines about his teammate’s great game on the mound. “He was striking all these guys out, gets through the 7th inning, the 8th inning, he’s out there for the 9th inning, gets two outs, and then the coach comes and takes him out of the game,” Bremer shared.
It turns out the league had implemented a pitch count rule because college coaches were getting upset about summer league coaches throwing their pitchers so much. He hit the pitch count max with two outs in the 9th. Bremer and I half-jokingly agreed, even though he threw his no hitter before the pitch count was implemented, it still came in under that max number, further legitimizing it as the ONLY no hitter in Northwoods League history.
Bremer was drafted by the Cubs the year after Yavapai, but decided to pursue his career at Baylor instead. Two years later he was drafted by the Cubs again, I was curious to know if there was any significance to a player getting drafted by the same team twice. Bremer said he could see that being the case with some players, but not with him. “I was a drastically different player when I was drafted in junior college versus when I was drafted at Baylor. I had refined my mechanics a lot. I used to have a big turn like Felix Hernandez and I had some trouble after getting rid of that, but ironed things out.” Bremer also changed his approach within his repertoire as well. “I started pitching off my fastball and my split finger where in college I mostly threw my fastball with a slider.” Bremer also noted that he was drafted by two different scouts as well.
We got to talk about Bremer’s spring training debut this year and what that experience was like. It was amazing to find out how close he was to actually making that debut the year before. “I backed up 8 or 9 games the year before which is a pretty high amount. There were so many times I was warming up in the bullpen and the radio would say this was a pitchers last hitter and it would be something like bases loaded with one out and the guy would get a double play.”
That was not the case this year. “It was cool to get in there this year. I got to throw in three different games and it’s a blast getting to throw in front of Don Mattingly, Juan Nieves, and the whole staff because as much as they’d love to come to the back fields, they just don’t have the time. Spring Training is at the same time for everyone.” Not only did he get the opportunity to showcase his stuff, he had successful outings every time. “It’s also great to go there and put up a couple of zeros, it’s a great confidence booster to go out there and get high fives from Hech, and Dee, and Yeli and get a taste of what it could be like once you get up there.”
When I asked about the talented bullpen the Marlins have and how Bremer interacted with those guys he said “I’ve known a lot of those guys for awhile now and we talk a lot, but I’m mainly letting those guys do their thing and get ready for the season. If they do call me over then I’m definitely all ears and I love it when they do that.”
Bremer is entering his sixth year of professional baseball this season. He has been named a league All Star three times as well as an organizational All Star. He has constantly been progressing through the system, so I asked him what exactly keeps driving him when he is so close to achieving his ultimate goal. “I kind of see my career in two different phases, there was the lower ball level from when I was drafted until the beginning of 2015 and then the upper ball level when I was in Double-A and Triple-A. Sure there were sometimes where I was having success and I would wonder why I wasn’t at the next level, but fortunately I was blessed with some good people around me that really helped lift me up and encourage me. I understand at the end of the day it’s a business.”
What I was really impressed with was what Bremer said next. “I am very strong in my faith and I know that if God didn’t want me to have success in baseball he wouldn’t have me doing it. I have experienced a lot of cool things with baseball and I don’t regret a single thing.” One aspect of his career that Bremer is very proud of is his recognition’s off the field as he was named the community player of the year in Jacksonville last year. “I really enjoy getting out and playing with the kids and making visits. There is always a silver lining and a positive that comes out of every season. I learn something every year and if I keep doing that, I believe I will get my chance to go to the big leagues.”
Bremer is the kind of player we can all get behind and root for. He is a talented pitcher and a humble man with inspiring faith. He understands the opportunity he has to make a positive impact on the communities he is playing in and takes full advantage of it.
On the field, Bremer has trended up in every year of his professional career. He owns a career 2.91 ERA over 250 innings and has converted 29 of 34 save opportunities over his minor league career. Fans in Jacksonville are lucky enough to see him for another year, but it won’t be long before Bremer is knocking on the door of the Miami bullpen.
You can also reach out to Jake at email@example.com
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