‘No pressure, no diamonds’: Guardians’ Day 3 pick has seen it all

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CLEVELAND — Adam Tulloch was ready to throw in the towel. His baseball dreams did not seem like they were going to pan out.

Little did he know he’d begin his professional career in the summer of 2022, as the Guardians selected the lefty hurler out of Arizona State University in the 15th round of the MLB Draft.

Tulloch had started his high school career with one school, then transferred to a more competitive school down the road to get better baseball experience, only to realize that he was the low man on the totem pole because he was younger than everyone else. As he was wrapping up his junior year, he knew he needed to make a change in order to get more playing time during his senior year so he could try to play in college. But was it worth it?

“To be honest, I wasn’t even really considering baseball as a possibility in college, let alone professionally,” Tulloch said.

Tulloch transferred to his local high school for his senior year and received one Division II offer from Wingate University. He heard nothing from Division I teams. Tulloch was born in July, which meant he was always the youngest (and smallest, considering he described himself as a late bloomer) in his class. But instead of just giving up, he decided to accept the offer to Wingate — a decision that made it clear his dream was still to reach the Majors.

“Freshman year, I really fell in love with the sport again,” Tulloch said. “I’ve always loved baseball, but I really started having fun my freshman year.”

But just because Tulloch found a home that was relaxing, competitive and, most of all, enjoyable didn’t mean that he was taking his foot off the pedal. He knew he had to make some changes in order to reach professional baseball. So, his story of travel continued.

Tulloch moved from Wingate to a junior college (College of Central Florida) to West Virginia University.

“It was a very, very difficult decision for me to leave [Wingate],” Tulloch said. “But I knew just based off of history and how people view Division II compared to Division I that I’d have a little bit of a better chance of playing professional baseball if I did make the switch.”

After his season with West Virginia, he was drafted in the 17th round of the 2021 MLB Draft by the Dodgers, but he wanted more. In Tulloch’s typical fashion, that meant making another move. He ended up moving to Arizona State University for this past season.

Seven schools. Eight years. Seven different baseball coaches.

Yes, that process was as challenging as it sounds.

“I would definitely say it was more difficult,” Tulloch said. “Especially being a pitcher. You’re going out there with a new coach, a new team every single year, which in college baseball, it’s difficult.”

In the end, his moves paid off. Tulloch jumped two rounds in the Draft this year as opposed to 2021, getting selected in the 15th round by the Guardians.

“He’s 6-2, really strong, durable lower half, up to 96 [mph],” Guardians director of amateur scouting Scott Barnsby said. “He has an advanced feel for his changeup and we feel pretty good about the progression with his breaking ball, as well.”

Now, Tulloch is preparing for his eighth coach in the last nine years, ready to make the transition to professional baseball — something he’s certainly had a lot of practice with.

“It has been really tough but there was a phrase we’d always say my freshman year, which was ‘No pressure, no diamonds,'” Tulloch said with a chuckle. “It really is. When you are able to go through things like that and handle that adversity, I really do think it makes you a stronger person and it opens up your eyes too.”

Tulloch will have a handful of familiar faces with him when he joins his new team this time. Arizona State teammate Jim Lampe was selected by Cleveland in the third round of the Draft on Monday and Tulloch’s old Cape Cod League roommate Aaron Davenport is already in the Guardians’ system.

It’s safe to say, he’s glad he didn’t throw in the towel.

“There’s been so many ups and downs,” Tulloch said. “It’s really unbelievable. To go from not even really thinking I was going to be playing baseball my senior year of high school … I don’t think it’s going to compare. This is what I’ve dreamed of.”