The Path Of A College Pitcher with Tyler Manez

04/16/2014, 7:45pm EDT
By Jeff Noreman; Photo By Jeremy McKnight

Manez-spotlight-slideshow_largeTyler Manez is a 20 year old from North Massapequa, New York. He is currently a sophomore at Elon University, and a pitcher for the Phoenix baseball team. He attended Plainedge High School, where as a senior he helped the Red Devils win the Long Island Championship.

BPM: What is your first memory of baseball?
TM: My first memory of baseball would be going out in the backyard with my mom, playing catch and hitting wiffle balls off the tee while my brothers and sister were at school. I also remember going to field after field every spring and summer to watch my older brothers’ (Jason and Kyle) baseball games. When I was six, I went to Cooperstown, N.Y. with my family to watch my brother play and from that point on, I couldn’t wait to experience baseball at Cooperstown myself.
BPM: What was the first team or league you played in? Tell me what you remember about it.
TM: The first league that I played in was Plainedge Youth Baseball League and one of the best memories was playing on the White Sox with my good friend Ralph Caccavale and going undefeated and winning the World Series.
BPM: When did you know you were a talented baseball player? How did that become clear to you?
TM: When I was seven years old, I was asked to play up on the 8 year old travel team in the summer and was selected to be one of the starting pitchers. From that point on, I realized I was a pretty good player. I had a strong arm and loved to pitch. Even the 8 year olds had a hard time getting hits off me.
BPM: What positions did you play over the years? What was the most fun?
TM: Over the years I played just about every position, even catcher. As I got older, being a lefty, I was forced to settle in at pitcher, outfield and first base. Pitcher was definitely the most fun because I loved being a part of every pitch and every play and really having control over the tempo of the game.
BPM: Who is the coach that you played for that you think had the biggest impact on the development of your baseball skills? Describe him and tell me why.
TM: I was fortunate to have several great coaches over the years that helped me develop my baseball skills and make me the competitor I am today. Up until I was fifteen, my Dad and Coach Fred Kurz taught me the game, how to0 practice and made me understand that I needed to work hard if I wanted to be better than the next guy. Once I got to high school, I started working with pitching coach John Byrne and played in the summer for Coach Herbst of the Long Island Whalers. My Dad and Plainedge baseball coach Tom Pisani probably had the biggest impact on my short baseball career. Playing on varsity for three years helped me become the player I am today. Coach Pisani is a really hard worker and expects the best from you at all times. He was one of the best baseball coaches on Long Island and knows the game extremely well.
BPM: How did you decide on Elon University? What was your major when you started there? What degree will you have when you graduate?
TM: I decided on Elon University because I loved the school and liked that the coaches had a real interest in me. I heard great things about the baseball program and the coaching staff and when I met them, they seemed like great people who really knew the game. I also wanted to be part of a program that had a winning tradition and had a chance to win conference championships. Knowing Elon’s history and after seeing the all the championship banners at their field, I knew this was the place for me. My major at Elon is Sport and Event Management with a minor is Business. I’m currently on pace to graduate in three years so I hope to start my masters in my last year.
BPM: What has been the most memorable situation that you’ve experienced because of baseball? 
TM: The most memorable situation on the field would be winning the Long Island championship my senior year of high school in an 11-inning game against Shoreham Wading River allowing us to go to states. The opposing pitcher and I both pitched complete games where we both went 10 scoreless innings and in the top of the 11th we drove in 3 runs. I went back out there for the bottom of the 11th where I let up a run and had a man on first and second with two outs and struck the player out at the plate to end the game.
BPM: Where did you attend high school? Tell me about your time there, baseball-wise.
TM: I attended Plainedge High School where I was a three-year varsity player. I was a two time All-County selection my junior and senior years, and I was a first team All-Long Island selection my senior year. As a Sophomore I was mainly a reliever and had a few spot starts. We had an older team with lots of returning starting seniors. My junior year I became one of the ace of the staff when we had a undefeated season and lost in the county semi-finals. My senior year I was the ace of the staff, but as a team, we struggled in the regular season and just sneaking into the playoffs where we went on a major run to win the Long Island championship.
BPM: What is the best baseball moment in your life so far?
TM: One of the best baseball moments of my life was last year at Elon when we won the Southern Conference Championship. There was nothing like losing the first game in the tournament and having our backs against the wall and going on to win every game after that defeating The Citadel in the championship and then attending the Regionals hosted by The University of Virginia.
BPM: Did you play summer ball with your school friends and teammates? Or did you make a new group of people there?
TM: For majority of my career I played summer ball with a few of my good friends and high school teammates but also making a bunch of new friends on travel teams along the way.
BPM: Tell us about your summer baseball experience? What years? What teams?
TM: Up until I was 15, I played summer ball with the N. Massapequa Red Devils coached by my Dad and Fred Kurz. After that team broke up I continued to play summer ball for the Long Island Whalers with a few of my friends. I loved traveling to all the different tournaments and playing some of the best teams in the nation. The coaches of these teams really helped me develop not only as a player but as the person I am today.
BPM: What did you get to do or see because of summer baseball?
TM: Summer ball allowed me to play against some of the best competition in the country and also exposed me to a lot of college scouts which helped me earn my scholarship. My most memorable experience would be pitching a pretty good game in East Cobb, Georgia, and having a lot of college coaches call me after the game. Before this, I wasn’t highly recruited because I didn’t attend any showcases or win any major tournaments.
BPM: Where does the game of baseball fit into your life now?
TM: Right now, baseball is a really big part of my life and I’m constantly thinking about it and doing everything I can to make myself better.
BPM: Describe your experience with the MLB Draft. Who contacted you? When? When did you tell the team that drafted you that you’re deciding to go to Elon instead?
TM: I was being looked at by the NY Mets and Houston Astros in the last few games of my high school season. After pitching well in the finals, the Houston Astros called me and told me to listen for my name because they were going to draft me. It was an awesome feeling and I was lucky to be with a few friends when they called my name in the 32nd round. Even though it was exciting and I was seriously thinking about going to the minors, I was also really looking forward to going to Elon. The Astros came to my house and made me an offer, which I thought about for a few days. I later decided that a college education was important to me and figured if I was good enough, I would have another shot in the draft in three years.
BPM: What would your best possible future look like if it involves baseball? 
TM: My dream is to become a Major League Baseball player and I’m doing everything possible to make that happen. If that dream doesn’t come true, I would still love to be involved with baseball in some capacity with either coaching or scouting.
BPM: What would your best possible future look like if it did not involve baseball?
TM: If baseball isn’t part of my future after college, then I hope to work in my field of study which is sport and event management. I would love to work for a major sports organization planning and managing events in a state-of-the-art facility.
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