By Bobby Colorado
Canadian Baseball Network
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Tayler Saucedo credits his early success in the minors to the hard work it took him to get here.
The Blue Jays’ 21st round pick from 2015 has quietly moved his way up the club's minor league system and is expected to begin the season with the class-A Advanced Dunedin squad.
“My main goal is just to keep moving forward,” said Saucedo, who posted a 3-2 record and a 4.50 ERA last year with the low-A Lansing Lugnuts. “If I have to repeat, I have to repeat but as long as I get to the next level and don’t go backwards, then I’m doing the right thing and I’m reaching my goals.”
After dropping out of Tacoma Community College in his sophomore year, Saucedo did not intend to pursue baseball. However, the coaching staff of Billy Berry and Stephen Baker at Tennessee Wesleyan University talked to the 6-foot-5 left hander and offered a partial scholarship.
“Tennessee Wesleyan contacted me and asked me, 'How are things going? Are you still interested in baseball?',” said Saucedo, who finished last season with 4.47 ERA, after being called up to the Dunedin Blue Jays.
“They offered me a 70 per cent scholarship and they came off a national championship and I went to visit , they had a really good program so I said why not?”
However, Saucedo admitted to his struggles in his freshman season.
“I had a really rough first year on-and-off the field, and they were almost about to send me home.” said Saucedo, after he finished a light spring training session.
The 24 year-old credits his bounce-back to new pitching coach Matt McCracken. The two newcomers worked out together during the summer prior to the season and developed a strong bond.
“We just had a more personal relationship. I felt comfortable talking with him and letting him know what was going on,” said the Hawaii native.
“He kind of got to know me and it was his first year as the pitching coach that upcoming year, we just had a good relationship and it worked well.”
Saucedo admitted that the road to the professional ranks has not been easy, however his parents have instilled the importance of perseverance in him from a young age.
“They always taught me, when you fall, you got to get back up and if you fail, you learn from that more than your successes.”