One-on-One with Atlanta's Tyler Flowers

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Our very own Haley Smilow recently had the opportunity to catch up with Atlanta Braves catcher Tyler Flowers. Check out the transcript of that interview below:

Catcher Tyler Flowers grew up in Roswell, Ga., where he played high school baseball at Blessed Trinity Catholic. In 2005, the Atlanta Braves picked Flowers in the 33rd round and he spent a couple years in the minors playing with teams like the Danville Braves, the Rome Braves and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. In 2008, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox, where he played for seven years backing up AJ Pierzynski, and eventually taking over the starting spot.

In 2015, a reunion between Flowers and the Braves became a homecoming for this Georgia Native. Flowers has appeared in 613 games in the Majors and an impressive .240/.315/.394 career slash line, with 66 home runs, 232 RBIs and 735 total bases in 9 years. Flowers considers himself to be in a fraternity within a fraternity of elite pitch framers.

In this interview with Junior Baseball’s Haley Smilow, he talks about life behind the plate and little bit about his return to Georgia.

Haley Smilow: What do you think of Suntrust Park and how is it different from Turner Field?

TYLER FLOWERS: Well it’s brand new, so it’s a little bit nicer, a little bit less dirty and things you have to deal with are less. It’s a beautiful park. The location of it has been great, especially for me living here. It’s a little bit closer to home so that is nice. It’s a little bit smaller than Turner, but it’s definitely not small by any means. It’s still one of those parks I feel like is true to its dimensions and very fair overall. Turner field was a little more pitcher friendly than Suntrust Park has shown to be so far.

HS: Do you think there’s a difference playing in the NL vs. AL?

TF: Well, it’s a lot different for me just from a game-calling perspective, obviously, pitchers hitting versus designated hitters in the AL, so you kind of at certain points of the lineup attack certain guys a little bit differently because you always keep account of where that pitcher is at during that inning overall in the lineup. So you pitch the guys before him a little differently and I think gameplay wise situations are a lot different. You see a lot more bunts and sacrifices than some other situations where teams try and get their pitcher up so the next inning they don’t have deal with him and so you know it’s a little bit of a balance back and forth between what are they really going to try and do right here and what are we going to do to try and counteract that.

HS: Why is framing pitches so important?

TF: Well, because it’s fun. I mean, it’s a huge difference, you know, the ability to get pitches to be called strikes. It’s not that easy to do and I think guys that do that really not only benefit themselves, but benefit their team and their starter. The amazing part about it is one pitch can change the entire game. People always look at that one hit, one home run, one single, one bloop -- the reality is it starts way before that one pitch. If that guy didn’t get in the 2-1 count and all
of a sudden I catch one and get it called a strike and he’s 1-2, the entire at bat is way different. The swing and batting averages is over 100 point difference between 1-2 and 2-1, so every pitch has a potential to impact the game and unfortunately you don’t know which one it is until after the game, but that’s kind of the fun part where you can identify afterward one pitch and say to yourself, you know what, if I didn’t do that, that whole inning might have gone out of hand and you might have lost the game because of it.

HS: Is it ever annoying when the pitcher disagrees with your call?

TF: I haven’t dealt with too much of that over my time so far. I am really thorough in the preparation, scouting reports and communication with my pitcher before we even get out there. I like to take all the pressure off of them, they have enough to worry about trying to throw a baseball where they want to 60 feet 6 inches away, so if I can show them that I am going to handle the preparation, I’m going to steer us in the right direction, you work on executing that pitch. I
found out that guys tend to usually have a little bit more of success that way and are able to focus on what they have to do to execute each pitch.


HS: Who is the best past catcher and who are some catchers you currently respect?

TF: I didn’t start catching until 2008 full time, so you know Brain McCann is always one of my favorites turns out we ended up becoming real good friends when I first joined the organization. Russell Martin, I used to watch him, he is also a good friend of mine. Jeff Mathis is one of my favorites he actually kind of mentored me when I was in college, when I first started catching a little bit down there. He kind of showed me some things at the beginning. Those are some of my favorites from when I was younger when I got into catching although all those guys still play now. Some of my other
favorites like Yasmani Grandal, he’s a very good pitch framer as well, so it’s kind of a fraternity within a fraternity you know among the catchers. There’s some young and exciting ones like Austin Hedges in San Diego. He’s having a good season and I think he’s going to be another good one to be in that fraternity with us. He does a good job receiving and framing as well.

HS: What is your favorite part about being a catcher?

TF: Probably just the being in control, the preparation, the calling the game, the pitch framing of course, the direct impact you can have. You know you like to think about the good ones, but there is also a lot of bad impacts you could have if you don’t do certain things correctly, but I really enjoy the preparation, the hours leading up to it, the work, watching video and film and looking at numbers and swing percentages and different counts. You know all that leads to preparation, but that is one of my favorite parts about it.

HS: What is the best habit for young catchers to learn?

TF: The work ethic aspect. The preparation is big. I think of all the good players I’ve played with in my career and they definitely do both of those. They are creatures of habit in their routines and working out and conditioning. That’s kind of one of the biggest common denominators I’ve seen among guys that do well and stay in the big leagues for a significant amount of time and guys that were just kind of up for a year or two and then kind of just fizzled out.

HS: What advice would you give to young catchers?

TF: You know the standard sort of advice everyone gives like ‘work hard,’ but in reality I think my parents did a good job with me just emphasizing school and your studies and just making sure I had all that in order and that I was allowed to do the sports and everything, but if those weren’t where they needed to be they weren’t going to let me get too deep into sports or spend time there, until I spent the time where I needed to because the reality is to even play in college is a small number, but to get to the major league level is a significantly smaller number, so it’s tough to kind of put all your eggs in that one basket thinking that’s going to happen. It’s great to have those dreams and hopes and something to work towards, but you also got to be somewhat realistic and make sure you got Plan B covered and you know Plan B will affect you for the rest of your life, Plan Baseball is really a short period of life.

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