TERRE HAUTE —
A few more heads perk up than usual when a ball bounds or scoots across the Bob Warn Field turf toward Tyler Wampler.
Even the most routine grounder can translate into a silky smooth play Terre Haute Rex fans don’t want to miss.
It’s no surprise the West Vigo product leads the Prospect League in assists, but Wampler also ranks 12th among players on 11 teams in batting average (.321) and 10th in on-base percentage (.411).
“He’s had a solid summer offensively,” Rex manager Ronnie Prettyman said. “He’s having solid at-bats. He’s really setting the table for the middle of our lineup.”
Even when he’s going through mini-slumps at the plate — like his current 1-for-9 the last three games — Wampler is making things happen with his speed. He’s walked four times, taken a hit-by-pitch and stolen two bases during that same span. So that all-important on-base percentage actually went up.
And limiting strikeouts — as Prettyman mentioned after Wampler had 8 strikeouts in his first 10 games — is another key to success for Wampler. He’s had just five the past 10 games.
“When you’re striking out a lot, you’re not seeing the ball. When you’re not seeing the ball, you’re not trusting yourself. He’s a really talented athlete and doesn’t trust himself sometimes and jumps at the ball instead of seeing it and reacting to strikes,” Prettyman said.
The Rex manager, who has also worked with Wampler closely as an assistant for Indiana State, said this summer is an opportunity for Wampler to make big strides.
“He plays shortstop with a lot of confidence, he trusts himself, I just want to see that consistently at the plate,” Prettyman said.
Wampler has batted in the No. 2 spot in the order most of the time, and he’s got three doubles, two triples and 12 RBI.
“I feel like the main thing for me has been confidence, really just being relaxed at the plate. Good things are happening,” Wampler said.
Wampler also has six stolen bases in nine attempts; he’s 6-for-6 since June 11.
“He’s got the speed to do it. It’s just taking the chance and committing to it and knowing if you don’t have a good jump you have to shut it down,” Prettyman said.
Wampler’s goal for the remainder of the summer is to enjoy the thrill of playing in front of the hometown fans, while working on all aspects of his game.
“The atmosphere around here is amazing,” Wampler said. “The fans are really rowdy here, and to be in your hometown to play in front of a lot of people, that’s exciting.”
Wampler would love to put himself in position for a big offensive season for the Sycamores next spring so he’ll have the chance to pursue a career as a professional.
“I focus on everything, a lot of defense first. Really, this summer I want to get in better shape and be more prepared physically for next year.”
Being around ISU’s strength and conditioning staff all summer is a huge plus, Wampler said.
“It’s nice to be in your hometown and have the same strength coaches. I have [Rex and Indiana State teammate] Owen Conway with me, he’s a big dude and likes to lift too. He keeps me going too.”