Elkhart Central's Tanner Tully within reach of making the majors

Former Elkhart Central baseball pitcher Tanner Tully throws a pitch in a recent game for the Columbus Clippers, which is AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.

Being a professional baseball player can be a stressful experience.

But for Elkhart Central graduate Tanner Tully another moment recently provided more tension.

A week ago, Tully proposed to his girlfriend in Dublin, Ohio.

"One could assume that she would say yes," said Tully. "The experience was crazy and good. I was pretty nervous. We've lived together and had a dog together."

Since being drafted in the 26th round by the Cleveland Indians in 2016 as a left-handed pitcher out of Ohio State, Tully has endured plenty of bus rides while pitching at every minor league level.

It's been challenging and rewarding for the 24-year old.

Over his minor league baseball career, Tully has compiled a 23-30 record with a 3.90 earned-run average. A little over 415 innings, Tully has struck out 296 batters and walked 70. He was a starter in 66 of his 82 appearances. 

"I feel like I've changed and improved tremendously by being around professional baseball players and coaches day in and day out. They play a big part in how you perform on the field and how you act with others."

This year, Tully has split time in AA with the Akron RubberDucks and in AAA with the Columbus Clippers. 

The 24-year old has gone 7-8 with a 4.59 ERA this season. Over 98 innings, Tully has struck out 66 batters and walked 19. 

He was assigned to the Clippers on July 1st, sent back down to the RubberDucks on July 10th, and promoted back up to the Clippers on July 13th. 

"It's definitely been crazy, but it's part of the job," Tully said about his season. "You have to be ready for that when you get into professional baseball. You don't know where you're going to be from one day to the next."

Tully was honest about his reaction when he was sent down to AA on July 10th.

"I was a little sour," he said. "But you know before you leave if it's permanent or if they have a set day for you to come back to AAA. I thought I would be back up pretty quick."

Tully's last pitched on July 15th against Scranton/Wilkes Barre, which is a AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees. As a starter, Tully pitched 6 and 2/3 innings and allowed six earned runs and 10 hits. He struck out seven and walked none.

Those numbers didn't discourage Tully.

"I thought I pitched pretty well," he said. "There are definitely a lot of older hitters on that team.

"There are just more experienced hitters in AAA. Most of the hitters in AAA have been in the major leagues, if not all of them. The guys are little bit younger in AA. They're just getting some at-bats before getting up to AAA."

"You've just got to be able to hit spots with all your pitches against all the hitters and put them away when you're ahead of them."

Tully has relied on several pitches to help get batters out. He throws a fastball, curve, change-up and slider. Tully throws his fastball in the low 90's.

"My fastball and curveball are my best pitches," Tully said.

"Coaches have told me that I need to develop a good change-up. A change-up is one of the hardest pitches to develop and throw consistently day in and day out. I need to throw that pitch the same way every time I go out."

Unlike most pitchers, Tully can boast of being injury-free during his professional career. 

"I just have a routine," he said. "You've got to have a routine. You have to go in and get your work in every day, whether it's in the weight room or medical room. That's been working for me the last several years."

Tully will next pitch tomorrow against the Buffalo Bison, which is a AAA affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

"I just want to finish strong and go out there and control what I can control and do my job and continue to have fun," Tully said.

Tully earned Indiana's Mr. Baseball Award in 2013, which recognizes the state's best high school baseball player.

In that season, he was the winning pitcher in the Blue Blazers 1-0 state finals win over Indianapolis Cathedral. He tossed a complete game, five-hitter with 13 strikeouts and no walks and also homered to open the game.

For that year, Tully recorded a 10-1 record as a pitcher with a 0.30 ERA. He struck out 120 batters over 70 innings.

He also did damage as a hitter batting lead-off. He hit .495 with 10 homers, 10 doubles, 30 RBIs and scored 47 runs.

Tully's last time in Elkhart to visit family and friends was during Thanksgiving and Christmas last year.

"All my buddies text me every time I throw and check in on me," Tully said. 

Tully grew up being a Chicago Cubs fan and he still roots for them.

"I can still be a Cubs fan," he said. "I don't have to change. But I really don't watch much baseball anymore. I get enough of it everyday."

Is Tully surprised how close he is to pitching in the major leagues?

"Yeah, I mean it's crazy," the 6-foot, 200-pounder said. "Growing up (getting to the major leagues) is what everybody wants to do. I'm living through everybody back home that dreams of doing this. 

"But, I'm taking it day-by-day. If you get caught up about joining the major leagues you get side-tracked and take your sights off where you're at now."



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