Edens is in command
Published 5:55 pm Saturday, July 11, 2015
In baseball, like in life, self-knowledge is very important to one’s success.
Former Nansemond-Suffolk Academy baseball standout Taylor Edens has developed as a pitcher, realizing what exactly he does best on the mound.
Here in the college offseason, the result has been positive both for the Virginia Military Institute rising senior and for the Peninsula Pilots, his current team, which competes in the elite Coastal Plain League.
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As of the afternoon of July 11, Edens held a 5-1 pitching record and a 2.43 earned run average with the Pilots (19-14), having thrown 24 strikeouts and only two walks.
“It’s been a good summer so far,” he said.
This is the second year in a row that Edens has honed his talents during the summer with the Pilots in the Coastal Plain League, which features teams populated by MLB draftees and many college baseball teams’ best players.
NSA coach David Mitchell, who serves as an assistant coach for the Pilots and has known Edens since he played with the Saints, likes what he is seeing from Edens.
“His record and his statistics are outstanding, so those kind of speak for themselves,” Mitchell said.
But more important to the coach was how much Edens has matured as a player.
“I think he’s more of a complete pitcher, especially from a mental standpoint,” Mitchell said. “He really understands who he is and the talents that he has, and he uses them to his fullest ability.”
He purposefully does not throw the ball with the same velocity that he used to, and he is throwing more strikes.
“He very rarely goes to a three-ball count on hitters,” Mitchell said.
Edens said last summer for the Pilots, he was throwing 87 to 88 miles per hour one day and 90 to 91 the next. Now, he’s throwing about 85 to 86 consistently.
“This is how I’m effective,” he said. “You have to know your strengths and pitch to them.”
Rather than out-powering batters with speed, he excels at forcing batters into weak contact.
The key weapon in his arsenal is the sinking ball.
“It just sinks into a right-hander’s hands and away from a left-hander’s bat,” he said.
During the summer between his freshman and sophomore years at VMI, Edens played in the Valley Baseball League, known as the “Gateway to the Majors.”
He joined the Pilots last summer, and Edens noted the competition in the Coastal Plain League was a step up from the VBL.
“This year, I’ve done a lot better because I’ve known what to expect,” he said.
And his growth as a player has changed how Pilots coaches have used him. He was a reliever, specialty-type pitcher in 2014, but this year, he has started four games.
“We’ve used him in a little bit of a different role, and a lot of that is just because of his ability to throw strikes,” Mitchell said.
Edens has been selected to participate in the CPL All-Star Game in Florence, S.C. on July 13.
Mitchell noted that every year, the Pilots play an exhibition game against Team USA, a squad composed of the top college baseball players in the country.
“It’s the crème de la crème,” he said, and Edens recorded the save in the exhibition against the team.
Earlier this year, Edens contributed solid relief pitching to help the Keydets (21-30) achieve a No. 4 seed in the Southern Conference tournament and their first postseason victory since 2010.
In 45.2 innings pitched, he had 45 strikeouts and a team-high 12 saves, including one against the University of Virginia, the team that later won the NCAA Division I College World Series.