In this week’s time machine, we take a look at yet another first round selection by the Mets that was used in a trade shortly after making his MLB debut. Born in Bedford, Texas, outfielder Jason Tyner played baseball at West Brook High School in Beaumont. He displayed his talent both on the field and off it; he was part of the National Honor Society during junior and senior year, while also being named the Beaumont Student Athlete of the Year in his final season.
Tyner stayed in the Lone Star state for college ball, playing for Texas A&M. His success on the baseball field continued at A&M; he was named to the All-Big 12 team and was a second team All-American in his final season of 1998. By the time the Mets took him with the 21st overall pick in the ’98 MLB draft, Tyner had the most hits and stolen bases in team history, while accumulating the second-best batting average and third-most at-bats.
Upon signing with the organization, Tyner reported to High-A St. Lucie to finish out the season. He continued to do what he did while he was in college: hit for a good average and steal some bases. In 50 games played against Florida State League competition, the 21-year-old hit .303/.361/.343 with 16 RBIs, 30 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases. However, out of the 61 hits he collected, only five went for extra bases (two doubles, three triples).
New York felt he was ready to move on to the next level in 1999, promoting him to Double-A Binghamton for the start of the season. In 129 games played (518 at-bats), he hit .313/.387/.369 with 19 doubles, 33 RBIs, 91 runs scored, and 49 stolen bases. That earned him a late-season promotion to Triple-A Norfolk to finish the year, but he went hitless in eight at-bats.
The 2000 season started with Tyner manning the outfield in Triple-A. Overall, he hit .321/.380/.349 with 28 RBIs, 50 runs scored, and 33 stolen bases in 84 games played for Norfolk. The Mets called him up to the big leagues to make his debut on June 5th. He struggled to a .195/.222/.244 line in limited time with the Amazins before he was sent back down to the minors and eventually traded to Tampa Bay with Paul Wilson and Rick White in exchange for Bubba Trammell to help the Mets get to the World Series that fall.
Tyner’s time with Tampa Bay was an up-and-down affair; he spent a lot of time in both the major and minor leagues. In the three full seasons he was with the organization, the outfielder only played more than 46 games in a season once. He appeared in 105 games for the Devil Rays in 2001, hitting .280/.311/.326 with 21 RBIs, 51 runs scored, and 31 stolen bases. It was a solid season for him, but only 13 of his 111 hits went for extra bases, as it seemed his bat wasn’t able to catch up against big league pitching.
Between 2003 and 2005, Tyner signed with the Rangers, Braves, and Indians, but didn’t see any time in the big leagues prior to getting released by the respective clubs. He hooked on with the Minnesota Twins, seeing big league time in three seasons. His final season in 2007 was one of his best, appearing in a career-high 114 games. Tyner hit .286/.331/.355 with his only big league home run, 14 doubles, 22 RBIs, 42 runs scored, and eight stolen bases. He re-signed with Cleveland for the 2008 season, but saw action in only one game, which would end up being the final game of his big league career.
Retired from the game, Tyner now resides in southeast Texas with his wife and two daughters, and runs a baseball academy with Morgan Walker (another former ballplayer) for kids from the ages of 8-12.