The Potomac Nationals are happy that Tyler Herron rediscovered his love for baseball.
A supplemental first-round pick of the Cardinals in 2005 out of high school, Herron failed to live up to expectations and never got past Double-A. He eventually landed in independent ball, missed a season due to Tommy John surgery and wound up working some odd jobs -- all of which made him realize baseball still had a place in his heart.
After being drafted, he had expected to be in the Majors quickly, and that attitude led to problems. He stopped working hard, he admits, and the Cards released him in 2009. The Pirates picked him up a few weeks later but let him go in the offseason.
"I played with a certain fire in high school and kind of lost that along the way," said Herron, 26. "I started getting big-headed. It took me a few years to grow up."
Herron went through a long, strange trip to make it back to where he is today. The West Palm Beach, Fla., native stayed connected with baseball but also worked in pest control, cleaned pools, helped his father cook in a restaurant and worked in the bag room of a country club.
He gave independent baseball a try in 2010 with Kalamazoo of the Frontier League but missed 2011 due to the surgery. He returned to the game in 2012 and posted a 12-3 record for Fargo-Moorhead in the American Association. Herron then pitched well in Puerto Rico this past winter.
Washington signed Herron and assigned him to Class A Advanced Potomac. He's usually been a starter, but the Nationals made him a setup man, and the move has worked as the right-hander sports a 1.74 ERA in six games. He's struck out 20 and walked just five in 10 1/3 innings.
"I'm used to being a starter, but I kind of like [relieving]," Herron said. "It's a different mentality."
Washington had talked with Herron at the start of 2012 and said it wanted to see how he pitched that season before taking a chance on him. The Nats signed him in December -- and Herron was ready for the second chance many don't get.
"A lot of guys come back from surgery or have been out of affiliated baseball and don't get a second chance," Potomac pitching coach Chris Michalak said. "I see a guy who's making the most out of his opportunity. It's exciting to watch, and I'm very happy for him."
Herron sees things differently now. By his own admission, he was cocky and arrogant. That's not the case any more.
"The past couple of years, it's kind of [been] a reminder for me of what I really want to do. It's making me realize I love baseball again."
Though he's happy to be back in the Minors, his ultimate goal is clear.
"My goal isn't to pitch Minor League baseball -- my goal is to play in the big leagues," he said.
Extra bases: Salem's Garin Cecchini is collecting his hits in bunches. The 22-year-old third baseman has had at least two hits in each of his last six games, lifting his average to a league-leading .392. Cecchini, the No. 8 prospect in the Red Sox system, according to MLB.com, has also shown some pop with eight doubles, four triples and three homers this season.
On strike: Frederick left-hander Tim Berry has been baffling Carolina League hitters this season, recording a league-high 35 strikeouts in just 28 innings. His control has also been impressive as he's walked just four batters in his five starts.
Costly errors: Potomac proved a bit too helpful in Saturday's 7-4 loss at Myrtle Beach. The Nationals committed four errors leading to five unearned runs, including a throwing miscue with two outs in the ninth that led to Kellin Deglan's walk-off homer.