Stephen Tarpley, 23, was originally drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round of the 2013 First-Year-Player Draft out of Scottsdale Community College. In January 2015, the Orioles traded Stephen Tarpley to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Travis Snider and was traded to the Yankees on August 30, completing the trade between the Pirates and Yankees for Ivan Nova. Tarpley made just one appearance for the Tampa Yankees in 2016 and is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this offseason.
First, I want to thank you for agreeing to this interview. Let’s start by introducing you to the fans.
“Sure, my name is Stephen Tarpley. I am from Las Angeles, California originally. I am a left-handed starter. I went to USC when I was younger, that was my first school that I went to, my second year I went to a JuCo [Junior College] over in Scottsdale. We went to the JuCo World Series, and that is when I got picked up by the Orioles. I went and played two years with them, went to the Pirates, played two years with them and now I am with the Yankees as of three months ago, it is nice to be a part of this new program, I am very excited to see how this next year goes and my future with the Yankees.”
Can you give us a little bit of a self-scouting report?
“I throw a fastball, curveball, change up and a slider. I like to mix them in and out. I throw low-mid 90s on a good day, and I like to use my changeup a lot. I am good in clutch situations; high-pressure situations are usually where I like to thrive in. Crowds they don’t don’t scare me, but instead, they only pump me up. Tougher opponents get me going as well. I guess I am a power and finesse pitcher at the same time.”
What would you say is your best pitch?
“My best pitch? I would have to say it depends on the count. I don’t like to rank any of my pitches, it all depends on how I set up the hitter because all my pitches could be my best pitch depending on how I set them up. If it is my fastball early, I like to throw in a lot, but I am not afraid to use the outer half. I like to work both sides of the plate depending on the batter and depending on his scouting report. I like to pick guys apart like that and personalize each at bat with the hitter.”
You were originally drafted by the Orioles, then traded to the Pirates and now traded to the Yankees. Tells us how that experience has been.
“I think it has been awesome, obviously being with three different organizations you see they have different viewpoints on things and different fundamentals they work on, but it is all kind of generalized with little things here and there that are different. Getting to know different coaches, work the count in different angles and work the game differently and see different perspectives was awesome.
I think of it a lot like switching schools; you meet new people, but the whole baseball thing is really family based. I was welcomed in by each organization. I think it was cool, and eye opening, but I enjoyed it.”
How difficult was it for you to adjust to the changes in pitching instructors and philosophies from organization to organization?
I don’t think it was that difficult. I am adaptable so going to the new organizations didn’t freak me out or anything like that. It just takes a day or two, or a week to kind of get used to how things are ran, but like I said everybody is pretty similar, there are little things here and there that are different. I mean you can only play baseball a few different ways.
You started with the Orioles then traded to the Pirates but what was it like to get the call that you were going to the Yankees?
“It was cool; the Orioles trade happened during the off season, and obviously this Yankees trade happened during the season from the Pirates. I was getting some lunch and my manager calls me into the office and goes hey Tarpley I got to talk to you. I was like oh man, what’s going on? Am I getting moved? Am I getting pushed back a game, or pushed back a game? Because we were playing for the playoffs at the time.
So, I get to the office; the pitching coordinator is in there, and the pitching coach is in there. We had the Assistant GM in there and now I was like what is going on fellas. They go we got good news and bad news. They go we were going to pitch you game two of the playoffs or trade you to the Yankees. I was like oh man, no way. I was kind of shocked.
Knowing there were a couple of players to be named later. We talked about it in the clubhouse but you know, you dismiss that kind of clubhouse talk so when I got named I was kind of surprised. Then again, I have been traded before, so it is something I had been through. So, I was very excited but also sad to leave my brother. It was cool. I went to a new organization, and we ended up playing my old team in the Championship series. It was crazy to see my team on the other side of the field. It was an experience and like I said it is kind of like a family, as a brotherhood type thing.
You began this season on the disabled list with an oblique strain. You came back and went to the Florida State League to pitch 20 games for the Bradenton Marauders. Did you feel like the injury earlier in the year had any effect on your pitching?
“I was off to good start in spring and was excited then I got the injury. Bouncing back from it took a little longer than what I wanted it to. Taking it slow was kind of, I wouldn’t say painful. I was chomping at the bit there, and I was kind of trying to rush things, but an oblique is not something you want to rush. When I got back into the regular season, I was little tender here and there, so I was a bit apprehensive at times throwing the ball and going through my regular mechanics.
So, it figured itself out and you know you would have good games and bad games, but it was a season. It was kind of like an achievement after the season was over. I went through that, and now I must work to avoid that the next time. I worked through the season with an injury and overcame it, but it was an experience when you look back at it. You must take the positives out of it. Obviously, I didn’t want to be hurt in spring training, but you know you should learn how to deal with it. Learning how to deal with it was a learning point for me.”
After the trade, you made one appearance with the Tampa Yankees before the team placed you on the disabled list. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
“I had a little swelling and soreness. They thought it would be a good idea to give me some rest and shut me down. I hadn’t been shut down all year, so I was a little tired. Then I went to the instructional league and did some arm care; they just want me to be healthy for next year. It was more of a precautionary thing; there was nothing wrong.”
You went to the fall instructional league after the season ended. How was that experience for you to go to instructs and see the entire coaching staff and all the Yankees prospects in one place?
“It was awesome, getting to work with the coaches was awesome. It gave me the chance to learn the system a bit and a chance to work on my physical therapy stuff. I just watched, I looked at the system and saw who we got and got excited for next year.
What goals do you have for yourself before you report for Spring Training?
“I want to come back in tip-top shape, completely healthy and break with a full season team wherever they place me. I want to be in the right shape and be in the right mindset so I can open doors for the year.”