WAPPINGERS FALLS — Tyler Frank is used to it all by now: the pressure, the camaraderie, the upheaval. The only new part is the paycheck.

It’s a whirlwind nonetheless for Frank, the No. 56 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. He’s the top prospect from this year’s draft to report to the Hudson Valley Renegades, a Single-A affiliate for the Tampa Bay Rays. That kind of draft capital carries expectation, as if the transition for a minor-league player isn’t heavy enough.

It’s nothing the 21-year-old shortstop can’t handle.

“All of your baseball experiences have kind of prepared you for this point,” he said.

That especially rings true for Frank, a patient hitter and defensive stalwart who spent three years under the spotlight at Florida Atlantic. He was a two-time All-Conference USA selection for the Owls — starting every game at shortstop during that time — and was the conference’s defensive player of the year in 2018, when he earned Collegiate Baseball third-team All-American honors.

It was enough for the Rays to take the Florida native in the second round, making him the second-highest selection in school history. Frank didn’t find out right away; he was on the field for the Owls’ elimination game against Florida, the NCAA tournament’s top seed and defending champion.

He knew something was afoot, his teammates muttering among themselves. Finally, after the eventual 5-2 loss, his coach broke the news while his teammates mourned the end of their season. He tried to contain his excitement.

“It was such mixed emotion,” Frank said. “It was a crazy day.”

That was a little over a week ago, and Frank is already settling into his new life in the Empire State. He feels familiar with the area, having played summer baseball as a freshman in Amsterdam, about two hours north of Dutchess Stadium. That summer prepared him for being thrown together with an eclectic group of teammates, too.

The Renegades were still adjusting to that during Wednesday’s media day, asking one another what position they played and what town they were from. This week, they learn about their host families and their new home for however long they stay in Hudson Valley.

Frank remembers the host family process from years before, and he’s already finding shared interests with his teammates.

“It kind of has that summer ball feel,” he said.

He doesn’t have any goals yet for this season — he knows stats come with wins, and this team is accustomed to that after a New York-Penn League title-winning season. His voice hardly wavered when talking about such drastic life changes: a new home, a new field, a new roster.

The only thing that excited him was knowing this is his career now. It’s something he won’t mind getting used to.

“It’s kind of mind-boggling that someone could pay you to do this,” Frank said. “It couldn’t be better.”


Twitter: @CJCowartTHR