Improbable. Unexpected. Miraculous. These are perhaps three of the most commonly-used adjectives to describe the electric start to the MLB season by Houston Astros first baseman and former AAU assistant coach, Tyler White, who recently earned the honor of American League Player of the Week for the first week of the 2016 MLB season.
There really was not much debate surrounding White receiving the honor either. In his first six MLB games, his batting average was an astounding .556 (10 for 18) with 2 doubles, 3 home runs, 9 RBI, a .597 on-base percentage and a 1.167 slugging percentage. But after all that he has been through, it’s fair to say that even White himself was a bit surprised by the roaring start to his MLB career.
Flashback to the spring of 2013. White, who did not receive a single Division 1 scholarship offer, had just graduated from Western Carolina where he had walked onto the team as a third baseman. Unsure of his draft prospectus entering the 2013 MLB Draft, White elected to help coach his father’s AAU baseball team in order to keep busy and remain involved in the sport he loved. In fact, he was actually on the road with his father’s AAU team the night of the MLB Draft.
White would pay little attention to the draft that night. Round after round had ticked by and with his cell phone battery approaching empty, his attention began to shift elsewhere. But finally, after 33 rounds and with his phone operating on fumes, White received a text message from his girlfriend informing him that he had been drafted by the Houston Astros with the 997th overall pick.
“I really didn’t know what to expect that day”, said White in a recent interview on ESPN radio with Buster Olney. “I was helping coach my dad’s [AAU] showcase team, just kind of hanging out. It was actually over for the day – we were headed back home – and I actually got a text message that said you’ve been drafted…and then everybody started texting and calling me. And then I was just trying to keep my dad from having a wreck,” recalls White.
All that White really ever wanted was a chance to showcase his talent and the Astros provided him with the opportunity he had long dreamed of. And White has taken every bit of advantage of that “open door” as he calls it. At each level of the Astros’ farm system he hit and hit some more. He performed so well, in fact, that he progressed through their minor league system in less than two years. Now the former AAU coach is the American League Player of the Week and an early favorite for the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year!