MOUNT CARMEL -- Another Wabash Valley College Baseball Warrior is off the board to an SEC program.
Cameron Tullar, a 6-foot-2 southpaw from Brighton, Mich. became the latest Warrior to commit in the last couple weeks, as the left-hander announced his commitment to Mississippi State via his Twitter account (@CameronTullar).
Tullar was fresh off a visit to Starkville, a visit he said sold him on the Bulldogs. He was also considering Ohio State, Indiana State and Purdue prior to choosing the Bulldogs.
"I got down there and I liked the city," Tullar said. "I had a really good vibe to it, it felt like home. It felt like Wabash and my hometown, I felt really comfortable to be there and play there."
Prior to the visit Mississippi State Pitching Coach Scott Foxhall had been Tullar's primary contact with the Bulldogs. Tullar was highly complimentary of the Bulldogs' staff, but specifically Foxhall, who he established rapport with, providing an extra level of comfort.
"The coach is really good," Tullar said. "I liked what they had to say, the pitching coach, I bonded with him a lot on the phone before the visit. I feel like there could be a really connection and I feel really comfortable that I could see myself playing here with this team and what lies ahead, what I can do in the future for them."
Mississippi State enjoyed an outstanding 2019 season under first-year Head Coach Chris Lemonis, who led the Bulldogs to a 52-15 record and a trip to the College World Series in Omaha prior to falling to perennial power Louisville and the eventual National Champion, Vanderbilt.
Tullar said the staff envisions him as a weekend starter for the Bulldogs, though he'll have to work for a spot.
"They envision me as a weekend starter, but obviously you have to work hard to earn that spot, that's not just given," Tullar said. "Coming from JUCO, unlike some of the freshmen and stuff, probably walking into in my opinion what's one of the best conferences in college baseball. So they see what they can develop, help me, what I can help them do, win, and hopefully go to the College World Series while I'm there."
Tullar enjoyed an exceptional first season as a member of the Warriors, posting a 9-1 record with a 2.02 ERA and a 6.5-1 K/BB ratio as the Warriors number two starter in a rotation with Alabama baseball and former Warrior Ryan O'Connell and Antoine Kelly Jr., who was selected in the second round of the MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Not to be overshadowed by Kelly and O'Connell, Tullar was donned as the NJCAA Division I Baseball Pitcher of the Week after tossing a no-hitter this season. Tullar was possibly Wabash Valley's most consistent arm in the 2019 season.
After his vastly successful 2019 season, Tullar had caught the eyes of several MLB organizations, who eyed the left-hander in the early rounds of the 2019 MLB Draft. Despite some communication with teams, Tullar elected to return to college, citing he felt he wasn't quite ready -- at least not this year.
"It was a tough decision," Tullar spoke of returning to Wabash Valley. "You know the dream's to go play professional baseball for a living, but at the same time you just have to think about it. It's every kid's dream to get drafted, I just think I needed another year with Fournier or two more years with my four-year school to get more mature, get stronger so I can get more prepared for what lies ahead. Fournier and the coaching staff has done a lot to help me prepare the first year and will help me prepare a lot for second year [with the draft] and see what happens."
As a lefty, Tullar can be a pest for hitters. He boasts a four-pitch arsenal, with his 88-90 mph fastball, slider, curveball, a changeup, and strikes out batters at a tremendous 14.04 K/9 IP rate. Tullar said he's been working on tweaking out some mechanical issues this offseason, along with working on his changeup.
"[My] changeup's going to be in development, I've been working on that a lot in the offseason," Tullar said. "I'm trying to use that a plus pitch to add to my two other off speed pitches. I'd say that and a couple mechanical issues I'm trying to fix up this summer to bring to this fall for fall ball and see where it goes."
Wabash Valley College Head Baseball Coach Rob Fournier was introduced to Tullar in just his sophomore year of high school, when Tom Dishman of the Michigan Blue Jays organization turned him onto Tullar. Since then, their relationship has flourished, leading his way to Wabash Valley.
Upon his signing to the Warriors, Fournier and his staff laid out a gameplan for Tullar, one he bought into and executed with his tremendous work ethic. The biggest thing Fournier's noticed in the last year with Tullar, his commitment to bettering himself, which has now extended into the weight room.
"I think going into this whole gameplan when we signed Cameron, we talked about the road that you'll have an opportunity to hopefully get," Fournier said. "This is what we talk about, this can be a reality if you work hard, you get better, you commit yourself, this can be a reality. This is exactly what we told him -- we don't like to promise anything, but with hard work and he believed in our program, this is just what happened. It was a really good gameplan going in and this is what he achieved and I'm really, really proud of him."
"I think he has a lot of projection because his body's going to get stronger, more physical. Last year was the first year that he really dedicated himself to the weight room and I think he realizes hey, this is going to get me to the level that I need to be, and I think he's improved in that area as well. I think he realized how important the weight room is right now, he just started tapping into the weight program. I can't wait to see what this is going to do to him down the road."
With one year left at Wabash Valley, Tullar's returning to the program as not only arguably the top arm in JUCO, but as a leader of the team. He hopes he can lead the program to the NJCAA Division I Baseball World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. in 2020, a trip the 2019 Warriors narrowly missed despite their immense success.
"The goal's to go to Grand Junction," Tullar said. "I'm trying to be a leader this year, I want to make sure we go to Grand Junction, that's the number one goal. I want our team to go there and win it all. The goal's to get there as a family, bond and click very well and keep the motion going where we don't stop, just keep going through. That's really the main goal, Grand Junction. . . . Just very thankful for what the coaches at Wabash and what Rob Fournier have done for me. What he's done, get me recruited by other schools. I'm looking forward to next year with my new teammates and my old teammates and see what we can do. Obviously the community's very nice, they always support us, come out to our games, that's what I like."
Tullar joins CJ Weins (South Carolina) as the two returning Warriors to announce their college decisions thus far.