Tanner Tully is a born winner, so when 2018 didn’t go as planned, the RubberDucks left-hander went home, took a look within and came back with fervor.
That’s why it’s no surprise to see the 26th-round draft pick in the 2016 MLB Draft throwing darts once again in the Eastern League.
A look into Tully’s past shows just how bright his future can be.
A four-year letter winner at Elkhart Central, he was a two-time Northern Indiana Conference MVP. He led the Blue Blazers to a Class 4A state title as a senior, and believe it when his teammates tell you he led the team.
In the 2013 championship, he beat previously unbeaten Indianapolis Cathedral 1-0 by striking out 13 in a complete game five-hitter and hit a home run to right. He was named the state’s “Mr. Baseball” that season as well.
That brought a career at Ohio State where he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after a 6-3 mark that included a 2.22 ERA and 53 strikeouts.
As a junior, he was first team All-Big Ten after going 8-3 with 78 strikeouts.
Even his minor-league career was humming along as he went from Mahoning Valley in 2016 and made it to Columbus for a start in 2017.
Then a 2018 season in which he went 6-11 with a 4.47 ERA in Lynchburg reared its head.
Tully didn’t feel sorry for himself. Instead, he went into the offseason and fine-tuned what he knew he had.
“I’ve grown a lot,” Tully said. “I took last year into the offseason and used it as fuel to propel myself forward and get better coming into this year. It was just a bad year. I wasn’t executing pitches and getting myself in trouble and digging too deep of a hole.”
What Tully and pitching coach Tony Arnold found was that he was drifting off the rubber a bit and wasn’t getting his hand started from the stretch, so he was leaking out a bit and dragging his arm behind.
Tully went back to the Ohio State facility in the offseason and worked with some friends who are also in pro ball and is back to his winning ways.
Tully enters the week 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA and is fresh off a six-inning, four-hit performance in which he struck out six in a 2-0 win over the Bowie Baysox.
“When you’ve got it rolling, you’ve got to keep it rolling,” Tully said. “Having a team like this behind you putting runs on the board makes it easier to pitch.
“[Arnold] has been around a lot of players and has been around a lot of years. He knows every style and knows players’ habits. He’s been big. He helps me out. He helps me out on the field and in the bullpen.
“Going out there and being able to compete with the next guy and the guy before you, it keeps you going. You try to top them and the next guy.”
Not that it’s any surprise to Arnold, who chalked last season up to duck-snort hits, seeing-eye singles and bloop doubles.
“I think he took that into the offseason and did some work,” Arnold said of Tully. “He came in ready to go and since I got to spring training you can see his confidence is up and his delivery adjustments that we talked about have been made for the most part.”