Tyler McKenzie Thrives Under Triston's Watchful Eye
JUPITER, Fla. — When the Giants Scout Team/FTB played this weekend at the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., there in the stands was a face familiar to many scouts following the action on the field. Triston McKenzie, the Indians' top prospect, was following the Giants Scout Team/FTB and infielder Tyler McKenzie, his younger brother.
Triston said he enjoyed watching Tyler play.
“I get really excited for him,” Triston said. “I actually love watching him play because I know what his skill level is. I know what I expect out of him, I know what he expects out of himself.”
Tyler had a strong weekend for the Giants Scout Team/FTB, which was eliminated Sunday night with a loss in the quarterfinals. He went 4-for-13 with a double, a triple and four stolen bases while also playing solid defense.
“I’m not really trying to do too much, I’m just trying to have fun,” Tyler said. “Playing against really good competition, I’m just trying to show what I’m made of and do all I can to help my team.”
Triston and Tyler share a big upside in the game but are very different players.
Triston, listed at 6-foot-5, 165 pounds, is a high-upside righthander who spent this season with Double-A Akron and may next season reach the big leagues with Cleveland. Tyler, listed at 6-foot-1, 160 pounds, is an athletic infielder with exciting projection both offensively and defensively. He is committed to Vanderbilt, as was Triston before the Indians drafted him with the 42nd overall pick in 2015.
Triston this year went 7-4, 2.68 with 87 strikeouts and 28 walks in 90.2 innings for Akron. He was sidelined early in the season due to a forearm injury that the Indians took a very cautious approach with. Once Triston got back on the mound, he continued to impress as he advanced for the first time to the upper levels of the minor leagues.
Triston said facing tougher competition in Double-A helped him as he climbs the ladder toward the major leagues.
“You learn the differences between the level of competition, the level you need to ask yourself for, what you have to ask your body for,” Triston said. “The season’s long. You have to be ready for that toll and what a big league season would entail. That’s what I’m preparing for.”
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As Triston advances in the minor leagues, Tyler is preparing for his senior season at The Benjamin School in Palm Beach. He said having watched Triston go through the draft process has helped him prepare and understand what it entails.
Tyler said he is this fall working on his approach at the plate.
“Just keeping my topside back, trying to let the ball travel and trying to be more comfortable out there,” Tyler said. “Just trying to stay within myself.”
Tyler’s adjustments seem to be working. Not only did he have a strong showing in Jupiter, Triston has been impressed with his brother’s improvements. If Tyler stood in the batter’s box with Triston on the mound—something that has very rarely happened—Triston is no longer sure he could strike out his younger brother.
“If you’d asked me a couple months ago, I might say yes,” Triston said. “But with how he’s been looking lately and how I know he can perform, I don’t think so.”