Right-hander Tyler Badamo likes pitching for a simple reason: When he's on the mound, he's in control.
His 93-mph fastball, complemented by a nasty slider -- his newly discovered out pitch -- and a knuckle-curve, helped him stay very much in control this spring during his All-American senior season for Dowling College. Badamo's 0.83 ERA was second best in all of Division II, and his 129 strikeouts -- in just 108 1/3 innings -- tied for tops.
But during some of the most critical junctures of his life, Badamo has been frustratingly helpless.
There wasn't anything he could do when his father, Matt, had a stroke right before Thanksgiving in 2009, Badamo's senior year of high school. There wasn't anything he could do four months later when his father -- recovered from the stroke -- was killed in a car accident.
So this week, as Badamo waited to hear his name called, the lack of control was nothing new but no less anxiety-producing.
Seven hundred and fourteen amateurs had been selected over the course of three days, and Badamo started to sweat. After Day 2 on Friday -- which completed the first 10 rounds -- he didn't fall asleep till 3 a.m. ET
Then, finally, on Saturday, he became the Mets' 24th-round pick (No. 715 overall).
"It's incredible," Badamo said. "Now that it's over, it's really the best feeling in the world. I just relaxed for the first time in a long time. I knew it wasn't the end."
As Day 3 began, Badamo had Draft coverage on his TV and his phone plugged in -- that way the battery wouldn't die, a small aspect of the day he did get to control. Among those watching, waiting and wanting with him were his mother, Deborah; girlfriend, Ashley; and four younger siblings.
"I was glued," he said. "I didn't move.
"I had absolutely no idea where or to who I was going. I heard I was on the board for a couple of teams, I knew the Mets had been following me for a while, but I did not know when or where."
Now those questions have been answered, and Badamo has sent life's latest metaphorical curveball right back up the middle. And when he begins his professional pursuits, he'll have the momentum of his utterly dominant collegiate season behind him.
His last hurrah as a Golden Lion was, indeed, dominant. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder averaged 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings, and he struck out nearly six batters for each one he walked. Opposing hitters managed a .197 average and five extra-base hits -- less than one every 20 innings.
He also made headlines for his streak of 72 2/3 scoreless innings.
One benefit of Badamo's likely first stop as a pro -- short-season Class A Brooklyn -- is its proximity. Badamo is from Mount Sinai, N.Y., a two-hour drive from the Cyclones' home, so family and friends can see him play regularly, just as they could at Dowling, which was a half-hour away, in Oakdale.
But Badamo will have to leave another part of his life -- his childhood fandom -- behind, as he grew up rooting for the Yankees.
"Not anymore," he said.
But hey, that's out of his control now -- happily.
"It's not a situation I enjoy dealing with -- not being able to control a situation, whether it's life or baseball," he said. "It's the corniest saying in the world, but whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I truly believe that."
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less