With the postseason looming ahead on the horizon for the 2018 Iowa High School baseball season, many people get to reminiscing about the past performances that are etched into history.
In the world of Dallas Center-Grimes baseball history, there are many great memories to look back on but there’s one that might stand out the most. It took place at the very end of the 2012 campaign as the Mustangs took the season all the way to the Class 3A championship game against Decorah. The Mustangs capped off the great season by taking the victory and claiming DC-G’s first ever baseball title.
Deep in the middle of the talented Mustang squad was senior phenom in Tyler Peyton who highlighted the season with a championship game to remember. His 13 strikeouts through seven full innings of work was one of the rarest occurrences in Iowa High School state baseball history. In fact, Peyton’s performance that day on July 28, 2012 put Tyler into the history books as one of 16 pitchers to toss at least 13 strikeouts in a championship game. Quite a way to cap off a career which ended with just 31 earned runs through 175 innings pitched.
Since that magical season, Peyton has gone on to produce even more magic on the diamond with the likes of Iowa Central Community College and the University of Iowa. Peyton then moved on to take his talents to the Minor Leagues after being drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 29th round of the MLB Draft. The process was even more magical for Tyler being drafted by a Major League team, let alone that team being one of his all time favorites.
“Originally I was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds my junior year of high school,” said Peyton. “While I greatly appreciate their wanting of me to play for their organization, to get drafted by the Chicago Cubs which to me is the greatest organization in sports, is a dream come true.”
Of course with all dreams that come true, there are always starting points and for the current Myrtle Beach Pelican, the dream truly started wearing red for the Dallas Center-Grimes Mustangs. The high school multi-sport phenom does not need to go too deep into the memory bank to uncover some of the greatest lessons he’s learned over the years.
“DC-G is where I not only found my love of baseball, but it’s where I cultivated my drive to succeed that is still with me today,” began Peyton. “In high school we’d continually play tougher competition and it not only kept me hungry to beat the best, but it also helped me become a student of the game, to really understand the ins and outs. That’s also helped me to where I’m at today.”
For a guy like Tyler, who’s now so close to becoming a major league star, it can be easy to forget memories from the high school days but not for him. In fact, Peyton does not hesitate to describe one of his best memories of all time so far.
“Even today I recall my senior season,” began Peyton. “I remember feeling like we were invincible and I remember the guys we had on that team. Everyone was so skilled and everyone knew how to be not just a good teammate, but a great teammate. I remember the final out in the state championship game and realizing that I was part of one of the best teams in Iowa. That’s something that’ll never leave me.”
Tyler also had the opportunity to do something not too many baseball athletes get to experience. While at DC-G, Tyler played under the direction of head baseball coach Byron Peyton, but to Tyler, he’s called dad. The sport of baseball has always been a sport underlined by father-son experiences and for Tyler, to play for his dad was an experience he’ll not soon forget.
“Some people may think having your dad as a coach can be rough but it was actually really fun for me,” said Tyler. “We were already close to begin with but baseball brought us together even more. My dad has a great mind for baseball and it showed, just ask any player past or present.”
Tyler went on to talk further on the experience of playing for his father.
“The great thing about my dad is that he knows how to bring the best out of you,” said Tyler. “There was no special treatment towards me. I knew I had to put in the work just like everyone else and then he’d give me the opportunity to succeed and because of that I became a better ball player.”
From high school through collegiate baseball, Peyton has used his life lessons about the game to not only get drafted by the Chicago Cubs, but to turn heads in their minor league system with the Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans. It has been the fastball that has risen eyebrows after clocking into the mid to low 90’s on the radar gun all the way to averaging 95 miles per hour on his fastball velocity. That has helped Peyton to do great things, including compiling a 2-1 record through 15 starts with a 1.35 ERA and 24 strikeouts through 26.2 innings of relief.
Now if you ask Tyler, he’ll be quick to give credit to his coaches from high school to the minor leagues, but there’s also one organization that the Grimes native praised heavily for the improved fastball velocity this season.
“Over the off-season I went to a place called Diamond Dreams Sports Academy in Iowa City,” said Peyton. “They really helped me to prepare my body and my arm for the season ahead. They are very knowledgeable when it comes to how to improve your game within the sport of baseball.”
Tyler continued to talk about the reputation that Diamond Dreams Sports Academy and that along with that reputation, there was a familiar feel to the personnel. One such familiar face is Brandon Platts who is the baseball pitching coach at Diamond Dreams Sports Academy. The familiar connection made it easy for the two to gel together and bring an already stellar Tyler Peyton to a new level.
Platts spoke about his connection with Tyler and his thoughts on the young phenom.
“I played with Tyler at the University of Iowa on the baseball team,” began Platts. “We became good teammates and I got to learn just how great of a person and player Tyler is. He comes from a great baseball background with Byron and when I first met with him, I could tell he had a great baseball I.Q. just like his dad.”
Platts himself was a 13th round draft pick in 2011 and through his playing, coaching, and teaching roles, one thing he mentioned as a guiding light behind everything he does is safety.
“My main goal with any pitcher is to look at arm safety and recovery from a bio-mechanics standpoint,” began Platts. “The thing with Tyler though is that he already had great mechanics coming in. He’s had some injuries nagging him the last couple of years so our big focus was getting him as healthy as possible while still progressing the way he needed to. From there it was all about the mindset and focusing in on his goals.”
All the hard work has paid off so far for Peyton this year as he currently wields a 3.50 ERA with 33 strikeouts and just 16 walks through 36 innings pitched this season. As Peyton continues to utilize his off-season work and high school lessons, he aims to continue to climb up the ladder and get the opportunity to play for not only the Iowa Cubs, but the big time with the Chicago Cubs.
“It’s been a great journey for me and I will never forget all the great things I’ve learned,” said Peyton. “I grew up watching the Iowa Cubs and to get the opportunity to play for them instead of watching from the stands is amazing. At the same time it’s a step below the major leagues and the ultimate goal is to make the big leagues. All that I’ve learned and accomplished so far is to get me to that point and it’s working.”