GROTON, Mass. -- To watch a Tyler Beede start is to watch an event.
Not just for what's on the hill for Lawrence Academy, where the 6-foot-4, 200-pound, Vanderbilt-bound righthander is off to a dominant start for the Spartans (23 IP, 44 K, 3 BB, 2 hits allowed, 1 ER) after a stellar 2010 season (6-1, 87 K, 45.1 IP, 1.08 ERA); but for what's behind the backstop. Since transferring into the Groton campus after leading Auburn High to the 2009 Division 2 MIAA state championship, throngs of major league scouts flock to every one of his starts, often in the dozens (a rumored 40 were on hand for his 16-strikeout performance against St. Sebastian's last week). And not to be forgotten is his added bat this year, with five homers and 10 RBI so far as a leadoff hitter.
Earlier this month, an American League scout told me Beede projects as "a potential first-rounder, but top three rounds in particular" for June's amateur draft. That can be a lot of pressure for an impressionable high schooler, but the senior handles it like he's been there for years -- and truthfully, he has.
Beede spoke with ESPNBoston.com following a dominant performance in a 10-1 win over St. Mark's (13 K, 0 BB, 0 ER, one hit allowed, no balls out of infield) to discuss the scouting herd, his workout regimen, and his future in baseball.
Q: Just seeing what we saw before the game, all the scouts standing at the top of the hill overlooking the bullpen and watching you warm up, you're probably used to it by now. But what's it like pitching in front of so many scouts every time out?
A: "Oh man, I really don't know. I guess it's just an honor to have this opportunity. I'm a 17-year-old kid who's just trying to get to that next level, college, and having the pro guys here is just an honor. I just try to go out there and have fun, play like it's a high school game, no added pressure or anything like that. They're there, but I really don't try to pay attention to them. I just try to pitch my game for sure."
Q: The first time you threw in front of that many scouts, were you nervous?
A: "Oh yeah, definitely nervous (laughs). I would peek over the catcher, see some guys and be like 'Wow, this is a little too much'. There were a lot of scouts back there. But you just settle into your game, you kinda block them out, like I was saying, and it's just like pitching a regular game."
Q: When was that first time?
A: "Jeez, probably 14 [years old]...actually 15. I was with a travel team playing down in Arizona."
Q: You've had some great performances so far. People point to the St. Sebastian's game as one of your better performances (Beede struck out 16, allowed two hits and a walk, and homered, in a 5-1 win). What have you found to be working for you so far?
A: "I definitely worked on a lot of stuff during the off-season. I threw in a new mechanic, going over my head a little bit like Curt Schilling. It's helped me balance, and stay over my leg a little longer. Having a new catcher, (sophomore) Kevin Wnukowski, he's been a great help. He's really given me confidence throwing my off-speed, he's great at blocking pitches, and he calls a great game. The team's playing great, and it relieves pressure off me when they're scoring five, six runs, (or) 10 runs like we did today. It's just a great all-around team, and teamwork, throughout this whole season so far."
Q: Obviously, the fastball has gotten you a lot of attention. But how satisfied are you with your curve and change?
A: "Yeah, the curveball's been a great pitch for me this year. That's what I over the offseason a lot. I'm glad it's feeling good coming out of my hand, and I'm getting a lot more comfortable throwing it in 2-1 counts, 3-2 counts, so that's been a great pitch for me for sure."
Q: Who are the best hitters you've faced so far in your high school career?
A: "High school career man, ooh, that's tough. Here in my league, Rhett Weisman for sure, lefty hitter from BB&N. And then guys throughout the country, Blake Swihart from New Mexico (Cleveland High, Rio Rancho, N.M.), Dante Bichette Jr. (Orangewood Christian, Maitland, Fla.), Shawon Dunston (Valley Christian, Fremont, Calif.), future Vandy commit. There's just so many great hitters, and it's a privilege playing against those guys over the summer for sure."
Q: The Vanderbilt head coach, Tim Corbin, is a local guy, and he's in on a lot of the talent around here. What's his program like?
A: "They just produce first rounders after first rounders, and they really develop their pitchers, hitters, all positions. The coaching staff is tremendous, they really make you comfy right when you get down there. They really make you feel a part of the team. There's no spots guaranteed. The freshmen that come in next year have an equal opportunity for starting positions in the field and in the pitching rotation. I've been talking to the other guys [coming in], and we're all excited for sure."
Q: You talk to Adam Ravenelle (a Vandy commit from Lincoln-Sudbury) a lot. Are you surprised that he's hitting so well this year?
A: "Kids that come from Cressey [Performance], they have some power. Me, I've hit three, four home runs this year. But yeah, Rav's a great kid, and I'm excited to play with him next year."
Q: Take me through your pregame routine. What's going through you head?
A: "I watch a lot of video before games, with my mechanics. I'm just trying to get it in my head, because I'm a mental pitcher. I kind of just adjust as the game goes on. With whatever's working after I come from the pen, if the curveball's not working I'll try and throw a little more in the game, first few innings, just to get a feel for what I'm going to do today. It's just an inning by inning thing, I'll take my adjustments when I get them."
Q: In regards to what people are saying about your draft status, are there any thoughts right now on where you'd be leaning, whether it's college or going into the minors?
A: "I'm not sure. Right now, college is the only guarantee, so that's what I'm going for. But you know, when the draft comes I'm going to talk to my parents and go from there."