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ETBU's Bates awaits the call as he chases major league dreams

By Nathan Hague
April 16, 2017 at 4 a.m.

Tyler Bates moves towards first base after hitting the ball.

As far as Tyler Bates is concerned, he could get the call any time now. The former ETBU football and baseball player played his first year in the minor leagues with the AZL Angels, a rookie-league squad in the Los Angeles Angels' organization. He's waiting on a call that would help him take the next step to his dream of playing Major League Baseball.

"I tried to learn as much as I could from the older guys while we were in spring training and I'm trying to use that to make me better, trying to get better," Bates said. "I could get a call up any day from Burlington Bees. They're a 1A team."

Bates said he learned a lot while at ETBU that helped him get to where he is now.

"The game of baseball is definitely not easy," Bates said. "I learned that from my junior year of baseball where I started off terrible. I think at one point my batting average got down to .083 or something like that. It taught me that every day is a grind you're not promised success in this game. I struggled a little bit when I first got here and I went back to those times at ETBU when I was like, 'Hey, what did I do to get myself out of this slump?' I kind of reverted back to old ways when I did those things and I ended up having a good year this summer."

In his rookie year in the minors, Bates batted .284 and had an on-base percentage of .397 and a slugging percentage of .368. He had 16 runs on 27 hits and 17 RBI. That followed his senior year at ETBU where he finished the season with a batting average of .407, 58 runs on 72 hits and 14 home runs.

It didn't take long for Bates to notice the difference in competition between that of Division III and minor league baseball.

"It's a step up for sure because everyone is good," Bates added. "You go from playing teams where they may have two or three good pitchers and two or three good position players to facing great pitchers, I mean they're the best in the world so of course they're going to be good. Everyone on the field is great. It's just a lot of fun to be honest with you. Everyone on the field is good so you're competing with them every day for a spot. So I think that's what makes it fun."

In his short time of playing in the minors, Bates already has a few highlights.

"Highlight so far, I would definitely say my first game when we faced the Brewers," he said. "I would say the next one, one of my advisors, Phil Van Horn, we played against his son, his son is in the Giants' organization and he hit a ball pretty well in leftfield and I made a long run and ran into the wall and caught it so that's always good. I had his advisor congratulate me on taking a hit away from his son. I would say that's a highlight."

Another motivating factor for Bates in chasing his dream is to honor his mom who passed away when he was 3 years old.

"It definitely motivates me," he said. "Obviously she died when I was at a young age. She saw me playing in the backyard and my siblings said I would stay out there forever and they tried to get me come into the house but I never would. It definitely motivates me. I want to do right, do my best in her name as if she was here watching because I know she's above watching. I just want to make her proud.

"I say a prayer before I take the field every game," he continued. "Once I get on base somehow some way, I point up to the sky and let her know that's for her."

Perhaps he'll get a chance to do that for the Burlington Bees real soon.

"I don't know, it could be tomorrow for all I know," he said. "It's kind of a waiting game but while I wait, I just try to get better every day and hopefully when that time comes, I'm ready to go."

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