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Skyridge Tyler Ball named Deseret News Mr. Baseball 2023

In the days leading up to Skyridge’s playoff opener last month against Davis, for the zillionth time this season, senior ace pitcher/power hitter Tyler Ball revealed another layer of his amazing character.

Instead of stressing about the upcoming state tournament road ahead for the top-seeded Falcons, Ball instead asked his coach if he could organize a food drive for the May 18th playoff opener to help bring the team closer together.

Ryan Roberts said his plate was too full to assist with end-of-school obligations and the state tournament to prepare for, but encouraged Ball to follow through if he had the time.

So that’s exactly what he did. With the help of friends they spread the word, and on game day parents from Skyridge and Davis both brought nonperishable food to support the Utah Food Bank.

Once the game started, he went 1 for 2 with a home run and two RBIs along with a walk in the 11-1 victory.

The camaraderie continued throughout the playoffs as Skyridge advanced all the way to the last game of the season, narrowly falling to American Fork in the Game 3 of the state championship series. The run never would’ve been possible without Ball’s leadership on and off the field.

“There aren’t many like him. In all the years I’ve been coaching and been around kids, he just has the intangible leadership qualities you hope to instill in all your kids. He’s not only our best player, but he’s a calming figure in the dugout, he’s a leader in the classroom, in the halls at school. He has a big presence whenever he’s around anybody,” said Roberts.

On the field, he was unquestionably one of the best in the state and he’s been named the Deseret News Mr. Baseball recipient for 2023.

He finished the season with a 2.27 ERA with 94 strikeouts and an 8-0 record. At the plate, he was just as dangerous with a .439 batting average, eight doubles, 11 home runs and 43 RBIs.

“When you get a combination of a work-ethic guy, a high-character, high-academic pursuit type of kid, and then also very talented and then all of a sudden you turn into Mr. Baseball,” said Roberts.

Ball has committed to BYU as a pitcher, but before he throws a pitch for the Cougars he will serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Argentina. He departs next month.

Ball is a power pitcher who commands four pitches, and has been clocked as high as 95 miles per hour in a game. He’s aware of the challenges that many pitchers have regaining their velocity after returning from a mission, but with his faith he’s not stressed one bit.

“I’ve already been blessed by God so much, and I know that when I come back from my mission, even if baseball is not where I want it to be, my life will be good. But I expect to see a bunch of blessings through baseball,” said Ball.

With the work ethic Roberts has seen out of Ball the past three years, he doesn’t doubt it one bit either.

“I actually think as he keeps progressing and gets into college and gets into a college weight program I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being a guy who throws upper 90s. He just has that athleticism, strong bottom half, big calves, fast twitch. He has a chance to throw really hard,” said Roberts.

Roberts said several pro scouts to him they were ready to take a chance on Ball in this year’s MLB draft if he wasn’t going on a mission, but now they’ll just have to keep a watchful on him at BYU in the coming years.

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Tyler Ball pitches for Skyridge in a high school baseball game against Lone Peak in Lehi on Tuesday, May 2, 2023.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Ball, who was born in Minnesota and loves the Twins, always seemed destined for success on the diamond.

When he was 8 years old in his first-coach pitch game in Utah, while many of his teammates were hitting little dribblers on the ground, he smacked a fly ball onto the other field. When the time came for him to pitch a few years later, he was always the hardest thrower in the league.

The right-hander got a big scare as a sophomore when he was diagnosed with a Kim lesion in his labrum. For a pitcher, an injured labrum can often be the kiss of death. The family opted not to pursue surgery, and instead went with the recommended rehab schedule from Dr. Keisuke Kanno and Chip Gosewisch at the Spooner Sports Institute in Phoenix.

Ball didn’t really pitch for nearly a year. By the time his junior year rolled around he started throwing more and his velocity gradually began to increase.

He had a good junior season at Skyridge, but far from great. At the plate he only hit .261 with three doubles, four home runs and 18 RBIs. On the mound he went 3-5 despite a 2.68 ERA and 58 strikeouts.

Skyridge was eliminated from the playoffs in the Super Regional round with a Game 3 loss to Pleasant Grove.

In the summer of travel ball that followed, Ball played a lot of baseball, but his offensive numbers didn’t improve much. He continued to throw hard and strike guys out on the mound though, but still got himself into trouble at times.

Last fall as Skyridge began to build toward the 2023 season, Roberts challenged Ball to take on a strong leadership role with such a young team of freshman and sophomores. Then before the season got going, assistant coach Joseph Johansen encouraged Ball to not focus on his ERA, his WHIP or any strikeout numbers when he took the mound, and instead encouraged him to simply focus on giving his team a chance to win.

It worked. He went from as a junior 3-5 to 8-0 as a senior, and it also translated to success at the plate as he went from a .261 average to a .439 average and was one of the best power-hitting threats in 6A.

“I just think that mentality of winning every game for my team, and not caring about individual stats was kind of key to that switch,” said Ball.

In the final week of the regular season Ball had a huge series against American Fork as he went a combined 6 of 13 with five RBIs and two walk-off hits in the 3-0 sweep to clinch the region title.

He continued to deliver big hits in the playoffs, including a three-run home run in Game 1 of the 6A championship series against American Fork as the Falcons scored six runs in the sixth inning to win 7-6.

American Fork won Game 2 and 3 to claim the title, but Ball didn’t hang his head for long.

“I think the biggest takeaway for me is how blessed I’ve been and just doing the right thing has been huge for me, both on the field and off. I’ve been blessed both ways,” said Ball.

He was definitely blessed with a great throwing shoulder, but Roberts said it’s Ball’s great mentality that’s allowed him to maximize on his talent.

“I’ve told pro scouts this, watching him grind through an injury as a sophomore and how he was committed to the rehab and the shoulder care and the arm care and seeing what he does on a daily basis of taking care of his arm, I have a lot of confidence in him coming back off of a mission,” said Roberts.

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