LITTLE ROCK – Former UALR right-handed pitcher Tyler Buckley has been selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 27th round of the Major League Baseball Draft. Buckley ended the 2013 season with a 1-1 record and three saves over 18.2 innings pitched in 19 appearances.
“It was like a dream come true,” said Buckley from his home in Vancleave, Miss. “My entire family was sitting around following the draft, when all of a sudden my mom started screaming. It turned out her laptop had updated first, and she saw where the Phillies made the pick. Then I saw it when my iPad updated and it just felt great.”
“We’re really excited for Tyler and his family,” said head coach Scott Norwood. “We think he’ll do great at the professional level, especially with his work ethic and maturity.”
A native of Vancleave, Miss., Buckley held opposing hitters to a .288 batting average while totaling 21 strikeouts against 14 walks in 2013. One of the Trojans’ strongest arms out of the bullpen, his three saves ranked second on the team, while his 19 appearances were tied for third among the UALR pitching staff. One of Buckley’s saves came in game two of UALR’s doubleheader sweep of then No. 10-ranked Oklahoma. Brought on to start the ninth and preserve a one-run lead for UALR, the senior struck out two while throwing a hitless final inning to seal the Trojans’ 4-3 victory.
Buckley transferred to UALR after two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. As a junior, Buckley appeared in 13 games with six starts, posting a 6.98 ERA over 29.2 innings. He picked up his first win as a Trojan in his first career start by holding South Dakota State to three hits and two runs over 5.0 innings. The right-hander made four appearances in conference play as a junior, lowering his ERA to 4.50 over 8.0 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .172 batting average.
He said that he received more interest from scouts as a senior once his velocity, which had always been strong, became more consistent.
“Last year I could hit low-to-mid 90s, but it wasn’t consistently there,” said Buckley. “This year, I had it every pitch. The coaches really preached not letting things that may have happened an at-bat or inning ago affect me, and that helped.”