FAU coach John McCormack figured him out a couple of months into his collegiate career. As the fall of 2015 concluded, the Owls were in quite the conundrum behind the plate. Projected starting catcher Kevin Abraham was diagnosed with cancer and there were other noteworthy injuries. In essence, the Owls were left without a viable option at one of the most important positions on the field.
McCormack wasn't sure what to do. So, he asked for volunteers. Frank, the 6-foot, 185-pounder, didn't hesitate. He was projected to play in the middle infield his first season with the program, but Frank raised his hand and offered to play catcher. He hadn't played catcher since eighth grade, but a few years later in college? Why not, he thought.
From that point on, McCormack knew he had a warrior and winner in Frank, who has developed into one of the most decorated players in FAU history and an All-American.
"I think the maturity with Tyler showed immediately his freshman year. We had all those issues behind the plate, and raised his hand and said coach I'll do it," McCormack said. "By the time we got to the conference tournament, he was really excelling behind the plate. I remember Loren Hibbs at Charlotte telling me he was going to be an all-conference catcher the next year. I just said funny you say that, because Frank is going to be our shortstop next year."
In 2016, with a new position, and a more grueling one from a fatigue standpoint, Frank put together a respectable campaign, hitting .285 with a .401 OBP, eight doubles and 27 RBIs. His power production certainly lacked, but a mature approach was present. He finished the year with 27 walks as opposed to 21 strikeouts, so there was off the charts potential with his bat.
"I look back at his freshman year, and I think like most freshmen, he spent a lot of his time getting himself out," McCormack said. "Now, when you look at his approach and what not, I don't think he does that anymore."
Just a season later, Frank moved back to shortstop as McCormack promised, and he didn't disappoint. In addition to showing smooth actions in the field, Frank made across the board improvements to his offensive game that got him noticed by USA Baseball. He hit .336 with a .448 OBP, .540 slugging percentage, .988 OPS and he tallied a whopping 15 doubles, 11 homers and 43 RBIs - a 10 home run increase from his freshman season. He also continued to show strong awareness of the zone, tallying 41 walks and striking out just 29 times.
"He's got a very quick bat and I think he's going to hit in pro ball," Rice coach Wayne Graham said. "He's strong, he runs okay and he's a good position player I'm not sure what position he'll play in pro ball, but he's going to be a high draft because he's a really, really good hitter. I've seen him way too many times, and there's not much in the strike zone that he can't hit. When he's on, he's really good."
Frank's evolution as a player jumped to the next level last summer with Team USA. Though the versatile infielder only hit .162 in 37 at bats for the Collegiate National Team, the fact he played for his country after a long spring season gave him a boost. He also showed an ability to play shortstop, third base and even left field, while also displaying a very serviceable arm. He was no longer just a good hitter at Florida Atlantic. He was a nationally recognized player and prospect who was scouted each night with that "USA" across his chest. And he could play multiple positions.
That did wonders for his confidence.
"When he went away for the summer with Team USA, I thought that did a lot for his confidence," McCormack said. "I thought he came back with a new level of confidence. For him, I think just playing for Team USA solidified who he was as a player, and that really helped him. He has raised his game even further since that point and he's a team leader whom the guys around here really respect."
Frank has continued to impress this spring. He entered the season ranked No. 98 in our College Top 100 Prospects list, and was No. 47 at the midseason mark as a projected third-rounder. But while he's hitting .327 with a 1.073 OPS, 16 doubles, eight homers and 19 RBIs, he's had to overcome some struggles at points in the season. For instance, he began the year 1-for-20 at the plate, which is why his average is down to .327. Take out that weekend? He'd be hitting .376. Frank also has reached base 34-straight games this season and tied the FAU all-time hitting streak with a 24-game streak earlier this year.
As if that's not enough, Frank ranks first in Conference USA in doubles, second in walks with 33, third in runs scored with 42 and third in terms of slugging percentage at .621. He's an overall enforcer at the plate, and he's more than capable of getting it done in the field, too. "Well, the No. 1 thing that stands out to me about Frank is his versatility. Out of necessity his freshman year, he caught, and he really did a great job back there," a National League crosschecker said. "He played for Team USA and is having a really good junior year. He has the ability to stay in the middle infield, so he checks a lot of boxes.
"He's a good hitter. I think his approach is really good, too," the crosschecker added. "He doesn't strike out a ton and he puts the ball in play. It's not a huge impact bat at the next level, but it's more than enough of a hit tool to allow himself to get to the next level and advance pretty far. He is going to end up in a pretty solid utility role for some organization out there. I think he should stick up the middle, and I think he'll get an opportunity to do that."
Some organization will be lucky to have him for other reasons, too. Frank wowed McCormack and the FAU coaching staff by his selfless behavior his freshman season. But that wasn't just a one-time occurrence. It's been a theme for Frank, and it's one of many reasons why he's developed into a universally liked and successful player.
"The thing people don't realize about Tyler is that he's often that last person out of the dugout after games. He's out there picking up bats and everything else," McCormack said. "And he's good enough and one of those guys whom, if he just went to the bus without doing it, no one would say a word. But that's not Tyler."
It's one of many reasons why Frank is one of the best position players in college baseball.
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