If Tyler Osik’s name is called during Major League Baseball’s amateur draft this week, it won’t be because his dad played 10 seasons in the major leagues.
The son of former catcher Keith Osik, who played for the Pirates, Brewers, Orioles and Nationals, has blossomed into a bona fide outfield prospect at Central Florida. He turned down a chance to play for the Pirates after last year’s draft and is likely to be picked in the middle rounds this year.
But things didn’t come easily for Tyler during his formative years in Shoreham.
“He battled weight issues,” said his mom, Sherry Osik. “Kids were picking on him. And as a parent, you see his hurt.”
His Shoreham-Wading River High School baseball coach, Sal Mignano, said he did his best to protect Tyler from bullying regarding his size and the fact that his dad used to play in the majors.
“Tyler Osik was never given the benefit of the doubt,” Mignano said. “He was bullied about his weight, about his ability, just about everything. He was the son of the greatest athlete in Shoreham-Wading River High School history. And he was still a beautiful, fun-loving kid. And I’m sure he internalized a lot of his sadness. It was totally unfair what he went through and it definitely affected him.”
The one thing that came easily to Osik was hitting a baseball. He was a pure hitter with excellent eye-hand coordination, quick wrists and core strength. The batter’s box was his safe haven.
“That was my go-to place, my happy place,” Osik said. “I loved to grab a bat and hit. It was the other elements in my game that needed to be improved for me to be considered a prospect.”
To get out of town and provide better competition for Tyler’s baseball, Sherry Osik used to drive him 40 miles back and forth to his Little League games at the Connetquot Youth Association in Ronkonkoma.
“He needed to have fun and not be judged,” she said.
“I was 9 years old and my mom would take me and my two sisters, Kayley, who was 6, and Kamryn, who was 2, to the games,” Tyler said. “She wanted me to play against the top kids. We did a lot of homework in the car in those days.”
Osik started his transformation into a pro prospect in his senior year of high school. He was an All-Long Island third baseman for the Wildcats and was offered scholarships to Division I schools Hofstra and Kansas but instead chose Coker College, a D-II school in South Carolina.
“His grades held him back,” Keith Osik said.
The collegiate workouts at Coker started to change Osik’s body. “All we did was run,” he said.
Osik then transferred to Chipola Junior College in Florida. “At Chipola, I looked around and said I could either go up or down,” he said. “The competition forced me to elevate my game. I was around kids who were superior baseball players. I changed my appearance and my body solely for the game of baseball and not for other people. I changed my diet, took working out seriously and started eating super-clean.”
In the past three years, 6-foot, 195-pound Tyler Osik has transformed the chubby little kid’s body into a man’s. A strenuous workout regimen, a healthy diet and a full-fledged commitment to reach his potential has changed the dialogue on Osik, now playing at Central Florida.
The same kid who was thought to have been a 40th-round legacy selection by the Pirates last year likely will be selected this year on merit.
“Tyler had to take a step back and enjoy the game,” Keith Osik said. “And he had to learn how to help himself. He stepped out of the shadow this year and made a name for himself.”
Osik had a .310 batting average, nine home runs and 59 RBIs for UCF while playing in the American Conference, one of the toughest in the country. He had three walk-off hits and three other winning hits. In the classroom, he earned a 3.1 GPA.
“I went to see him in the spring and watched a few games and for the first time a peacefulness came over me,” Keith said. “He was OK, he was happy. And that’s all you can ask for with your children — that they find happiness.”
The MLB Draft runs Monday through Wednesday, and Tyler Osik will hear his name called. Not because of the legacy but because of everything he has worked to become.