Former American Heritage shortstop Tyler Frank embracing stardom, pressure at FAU

Tyler Frank (Jake Elman / The Palm Beach Post)

BOCA RATON — Through his first two seasons at Florida Atlantic, rising-junior shortstop Tyler Frank (American Heritage-Delray) has seemingly accomplished everything on his to-do list.

Make All-Conference USA first team? Check. Dominate in his backyard, star for the Owls and raise his MLB Draft stock? Check. Frank even became the first Owl in a decade to be named to the Golden Spikes Award preseason watchlist last month.

With Frank potentially entering his final season in Boca Raton before MLB teams come calling in June’s draft, the shortstop-turned-catcher-turned-shortstop again is trying to focus on returning to the NCAA Tournament.

“We have a great team atmosphere and the focus is always on what can you do for the guy beside you,” Frank said Monday, four days before the Owls begin their season against George Washington (6:30 p.m., FAU Baseball Stadium). “What can you do for the organization of FAU? We’re always trying to win and we have some things to do compared to last year when we didn’t.”

Much like another FAU athlete, All-American running back Devin Singletary, Frank has become a national star since graduating from American Heritage in Delray. A .448 hitter for the Stallions, Frank was named to the Class 4A all-state baseball team following his senior year in 2015. Frank also shares a soft-spoken, humble attitude with Singletary, who ran for an FBS-high 32 touchdowns this past season.

In part because of Singletary and the football team’s success, the baseball program is operating under the idea, too, that more eyes are on them.

“Having good athletes around the university and having good coaches and winning? Of course we love it,” Frank said. “We’re ready to take on our season now and show them what we got. … We’ve kind of established and accomplished ourselves for a very long time now.”

After hitting .285 with a solo home run as a freshman, Frank broke out last season to slash .336/.448/.540 as a true sophomore, hitting 11 home runs and posting more walks (41) than strikeouts (29), not to mention six stolen bases and 15 doubles. Frank was named first-team All-Conference USA en route to earning a spot on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team.

“The whole is probably better than the sum of the parts,” FAU coach John McCormack said. “Him as a baseball player, if you’ve graded out the tools, they’re certainly good. But he exceeds that with his desire and willingness to do anything for the team.”

Added reliever and team captain Weston Clemente: “He’s pretty funny and he’s really good at what he does. … He’s definitely matured a little bit. Obviously he’s getting stronger and faster as much as he can. He’s starting to mature a lot.”

MLB scouts have already begun attending FAU’s early practices to scout Frank, who will be eligible for the first time since high school to be drafted by an MLB organization. With a strong junior season, Frank can potentially surpass his former mentor, shortstop C.J. Chatham, as the highest-drafted player in program history. Chatham was the 51st overall pick by the Boston Red Sox in 2016 and reached A-level ball last season.

“As many accolades as he’s gotten, he really defers it to the team,” McCormack said. “He doesn’t see it in that light. It’s nice for him and the team, but the one thing is you wouldn’t know it.”

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