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With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Tyler Brosius held the game in his hand — literally. The Braves needed just one more pitch to clinch their sixth win of the season.
A submarine pitcher, Brosius dipped, scraped his knuckles against the mound and released an off-speed pitch toward Wareham’s Matt McLain. The changeup floated and sunk, causing McLain to miss for strike three.
Just like that, Bourne secured its sixth victory with Brosius’ help. But this wasn’t the first time he’s come in clutch. Brosius has posted a flawless 0.00 ERA and three saves in five Cape League games this year.
Brosius’ journey to this point was similar to his pitching style: unconventional.
For most of Brosius’ career, he was a center fielder — and he was good at it. As a senior at Seton Hall Preparatory School in West Orange, New Jersey, he posted a .415 batting average with two home runs and 17 RBIs. This impressive stat line earned Brosius a scholarship at the University of Rhode Island, a Division I program.
His first season at the collegiate level didn’t go as planned, however. Brosius never saw the field in his freshman season, so he redshirted. And, as one opportunity disappeared, a new one took shape — pitching.
“Playing behind a really talented guy, I had to do what I did to play,” Brosius said. “I talked to my coaches my second year, and they gave me a bullpen.”
Before this, pitching was foreign to Brosius. In his only appearance prior to college — during his sophomore year of high school — he strained his UCL and missed the remainder of his season.
This early stepback made Brosius think the mound was not in his future.
“I stayed away from that,” Brosius said. “Really the only way I stayed with [pitching] is because of last effort.”
Brosius’ coaches at URI were just as wary about this switch to the mound.
“They were a little skeptical about dropping me down because obviously they hadn’t seen or heard anything that I could do it,” Brosius said. “They gave me a chance, and they were willing to work with me.”
This adjustment took time to master. In his first season pitching for the Rams, Brosius made just four appearances, posting an 8.26 ERA in 3.1 innings. He earned more playing time a year later, but his ERA skyrocketed to 12.34.
With two more years of eligibility remaining, Brosius did whatever he could to sharpen his craft in the summer of 2018.
“I was throwing at fences whenever I could and working on pitches,” Brosius said. “Really just focusing on the fastball in the zone, and that’s pretty much what my coaches preached.”
That dedication paid off. In his junior year, 2019, Brosius became a key component of Rhode Island’s bullpen. Brosius compiled a 6-2 record and a team-best 2.27 ERA.
It took a while for Brosius to settle in and understand the schematics of pitching. But his improvement in 2019 is an indicator of his quick learning.
“Being on the mound, you’re the full point of everybody’s attention,” Brosius said. “It took a little bit of time to get used to that, but after settling in and realizing you control the game, everything around you is in your favor.”
Not only was this improvement on display in the stat sheet, it was noticeable in his command. One of Brosius’ teammates at URI — Falmouth infielder Jackson Coutts — can attest to this.
“This past year, he really found it and can pretty much throw wherever you want him to,” Coutts said. “It was pretty cool to see.”
His success didn’t stop there. Ever since the 2019 Cape League season began, Brosius has been one of the league’s most exceptional hurlers. Brosius hasn’t allowed a hit in 6.1 innings of work and is tied for second in the league with three saves.
This hot start has given Brosius confidence that he can pitch at his highest level against some of the nation’s best players.
“Being able to settle down in front of all the fans and scouts and playing behind all the great players here — it’s incredible,” Brosius said.
In just a few appearances, Brosius has already impressed Bourne pitching coach Ace Adams.
“I have no idea how he’s developed so quickly,” Adams said. “He works quickly, he’s around the strike zone.
“Hitters don’t see it until it’s out of his hand. I don’t think that’s a very good thing for hitters if they can’t see it too well.”
After the Cape season, Brosius will return to URI, where he will continue to work toward his main goal: pitch in the big leagues.
But that won’t be easy. For years, scouts have scrutinized sidearm pitchers for their non-traditional delivery. Talented players like Chad Bradford, Brad Ziegler and Steve Cishek have been critiqued for their atypical releases, despite producing sound numbers.
Adams has coached at the minor-league level for decades, training pitchers with both traditional and submarine releases. Of the countless submarine pitchers Adams has coached, Brosius is among the most talented. His quick development and off-speed precision set him apart.
“I’m such a fan of this kid that I’m really promoting for him to get signed,” Adams said. “I’ve had a couple guys in the minor leagues who throw like him, and they’ve been very successful.
“He has to get an opportunity.”
In just a few years of pitching, players and fans have thrown various names and insults toward Brosius about why he can’t make it to the MLB. This only increases his drive to get there.
“I’ve been called a gimmick; I’ve been called weird,” Brosius said. “I have to play into my own strengths and really depend on my defense to get my back. Whatever role they need me in, I’ll play.”