Tyler Reis isn’t like most NCAA Division III baseball players.
While most athletes at his level don’t plan on continuing in their sports after graduation, the Waynesburg University second baseman and junior business management major has his sights set on playing professionally when his college days are behind him. To close out 2017, Reis received an invite to the 12th annual “Power Showcase,” which featured players in six age groups—12u, 13u, 14u, 15u, underclassmen, featured and college – showing their skills in front of Major League Baseball scouts in Miami, Florida. The showcase was held at Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins, from Dec. 27-31.
Reis’ performance as a sophomore last season, in which he placed in the top ten of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in most offensive categories, earned him first-team all-conference honors. Away from PAC competition, Reis frequently posts videos of himself doing more unsung activities; such as hitting in the batting cages or lifting weights, to his Instagram account.
Because of this, Joe Guzman, a scout for the Showcase, got in touch with Reis and invited him to participate. Because of the size of the stage, Reis was initially uneasy.
“I was extremely nervous,” Reis said. “I know with the type of players who typically come to these events, you have guys that are really young that are already well known, already talked about on SportsCenter, and then you have guys from different countries…there were a bunch of different people there. It was a really cool atmosphere, but overall I was extremely nervous.”
The schedule included players taking part in workouts together, competing in a homerun derby – where Reis hit five home runs – as well as playing in a 12-inning game under the lights of Marlins Park.
When Reis arrived at Marlins Park, he wasn’t sure what he was going to experience. But once he got familiar with the features of a Major League stadium, he was awestruck.
“My favorite part had to be the first day I got to the stadium,” Reis said. “I almost didn’t know what to expect. Walking through the stadium and going through the tunnel, going into the clubhouse, seeing the weight room, seeing the cage attached to the clubhouse, walking back to the tunnel into the dugout and taking the steps from the dugout to the field, everything just looked like—it was surreal. It was incredible seeing the statue in centerfield, everything just looked so big.”
One of the players that Reis got to know during his time in Miami was 15-year-old Blaze Jordan, a high school freshman from Southhaven, Mississippi. Jordan’s ability is so promising that he has already committed to play baseball at Mississippi State University. Despite the age difference, Reis found himself learning about the game from Jordan.
“It was kind of funny because I’m six years older than [Jordan], but I was asking him for advice,” Reis said. “He’s one of the guys who’s being talked about on ESPN and MLB Network, and he’s known pretty much all throughout the country. So it was really cool getting a chance to talk to a bunch of different guys, especially people with that skillset and that exposure at such a young age.”
Overall, Reis hopes that the experience will further enhance his chances of living out his dream.
“I’m hoping that I performed well enough and opened some eyes,” Reis said. “That way my name gets spread around, and I’m hoping that I caught the attention of some scouts, that way they can tell the area scouts around here to take a look at me. I’m hoping that being in Miami was another form of exposure for myself and allowed me to get myself in front of more eyes, that way I could potentially get a chance to be seen and get picked up by a team.”
Reis said that Guzman introduced him to a scout for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and also talked to a scout for the San Francisco Giants about Reis.
Back at Waynesburg, the Yellow Jackets missed the PAC playoffs in both of Reis’ first two seasons with the team. The experience at the showcase enhanced Reis’ confidence, and he hopes that self-esteem will make its way around the program.
“[The showcase] was a very big confidence booster,” Reis said. “The skill level of some of [the players at the showcase] was ridiculous, and to know that I was invited to the same place they were and that I deserved to be there…I have a whole new level of confidence going into this season. I think coming here, bringing back that confidence, starting our practices and everything now, I think the confidence is starting to spread around and get contagious. So I think that our mindset is going to be different this year.”
Overall, Reis believes that Power Showcase was a sign of things to come for his future career.
“It was a preview of what life’s going to be like for me one day,” Reis said. “I enjoyed every minute of it.”