The Cincinnati Reds have purchased the baseball contract of former Mount Abraham Union pitcher Tyler Pelland.
The move puts the 24-year-old left-handed reliever on the 40-man winter roster for the Reds. He will battle for one of 25 spots on the active roster next spring.
Pelland, of Monkton, said he got a call on his cell phone in a remote area of Maine while deer hunting last week informing him of his upgraded status within the organization.
He was excited to get the news, but at first he couldn't respond. "I had to make it out (to a less rural area) to get cell service to make the call back to confirm I got their message," Pelland said.
"They pretty much congratulated me and said to come to spring training and be ready to go full bore," he said.
Pelland said he will start lifting weights in early December and start throwing after Christmas. He expects to go to Florida toward the end of January to get acclimated to the warm weather again before starting spring training in Sarasota, Fla.
"He's excited. He will go down in the spring with the major league players and vie for a spot on the (25-man roster). It's pretty exciting," said Mount Abraham coach Jeff Stetson.
Pelland split his time this summer with both the Chattanooga Lookouts, a Double A team in the Southern League and the Louisville Bats, a Triple A team in the International League.
He was 5-4 with two saves and a 3.95 ERA in 66 innings over 35 games, including five starts.
After he was promoted to Louisville, he was 1-1 in with a 3.04 ERA in 232/3 innings over 19 games.
The Reds invited Pelland to play in the Arizona Fall League, where he wrapped up his season Nov. 14. He was 1-1 with a 1.08 ERA in 81/3 innings over nine games.
In 2006, Pelland told the Free Press he had given up on his curveball to focus on his slider. He said that change has paid huge dividends."That was the big pitch," Pelland said Monday evening.
"After they moved me to the bullpen after the first month it kind of took off," Pelland said.
He was used as a long reliever, often the first one out of the bullpen in several games and also at times was called in to be a late reliever, but never a closer.
His fastball, which was clocked at 90 miles per hour in high school, is now coming in at up to 94 mph. He also has a deceptive change-up and throws a cutter from time to time.
Pelland said he likes the move to the bullpen.
"I get to get into more games and feels like you are more into it then pitching every five days," he said.
Pelland, while at Mount Abraham, was twice named the Vermont Player of the Year by Gatorade. The Eagles won back-to-back state titles, including Pelland's senior year when he whiffed 19 during a 3-hitter against Windsor before 2,400 fans at Centennial Field.
Pelland attracted scouts from every major league team with his 90 mile-per-hour fastball and nasty curveball.
He initially accepted a partial scholarship to play at Clemson University, one of the premier baseball programs in the nation.
Pelland was picked in the ninth round by the Boston Red Sox in June 2002. He signed a six year minor league contract with a $240,000 bonus in August 17, 2002, but was traded to the Reds about a year later in a deal that sent Scott Williamson to Boston.