ONSL Product Tyler Bryant signed by MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers

by Cole Watson

RAMSEUR, NORTH CAROLINA -  The journey to Major League Baseball (MLB) is often paved with challenges, but for former Old North State League player Tyler Bryant, it was a path marked by perseverance, dedication, and an unwavering love for the game. 

Bryant’s baseball journey began in high school, but probably not how you expect. He was cut from the team during both his freshman and sophomore years. Despite this, he remained dedicated and earned a spot on the junior varsity team for his junior season. After those three years of meticulously working on his craft, Bryant made the varsity team for his senior and final High School season.

After high school, Bryant's journey continued through the collegiate ranks, playing for three different colleges: Oklahoma Panhandle State University (NAIA), Lake Erie College (Division II), and Ottawa University (NAIA). Each stop provided unique challenges and growth opportunities, helping to shape Bryant into the player he is today.

A significant chapter in Bryant's story unfolded in the Old North State League (ONSL), a collegiate summer baseball league in North Carolina where he played for three seasons with three different teams. Representing the Randolph Lumber Kings, Guilford Lumber Kings, and the High Point Hushpuppies, Bryant's impact on the league was profound. He was named ONSL Pitcher of the Year twice, a feat no other player had achieved before. He credited many of his achievements to the help and support available to players within the ONSL, specifically from the Allred family.

Alec Allred serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Players League, a baseball league that owns and operates the Old North State League.

Allred commented, "When my family started the Old North State League we had tons of help, and gathered a lot of opinions from some of my best friends who were playing professional baseball or were coaching in college. Our priority was, is, and always will be to take care of the players first and foremost. We feel very strongly that we can make a difference in our players' careers by simply just listening to them. Players don't want to be on 6-hour bus trips one way, and they don't want to play into mid-August. We feel our structure is good and I think that is evident in the number of players throughout the league and the quality of the players.” He continued, “Tyler paved the way for a lot of players that came after him, him and those pitchers on the Lumberkings\Hushpuppies helped bring credibility to the league. 3 pitchers off the 2021 team are with Major League Organizations now. All of us here at the Old North State League are proud of Tyler and want to thank him for being a part of the ONSL for all those years."

Another key figure in Bryant's ONSL journey was his coach, Brandon Nelson. Nelson coached for three years in the league, including winning the ONSL title in 2020. Referred to as a legend in the league by many including Tyler, with five total players from his teams playing at a professional level, Nelson's guidance and expertise were invaluable.

Nelson remarked, “Oddly enough I had tried to recruit Tyler to the college I was working at prior to joining the ONSL. The baseball gods have a funny way of making things work out. In the 3 years that I was lucky enough to be his coach I can promise you I learned more from him than he did from me. Tyler is an elite baseball player who is more knowledgeable of the game than many who teach it, and has major league level talent, it’s no wonder he’s finally broken into affiliated baseball. From the first moment we watched Tyler carry a no hitter into the 6th inning in his first outing in the ONSL everyone knew he was different than just some stud pitcher. He had that ‘it’ factor and there wasn’t a thing anyone could do to beat him.” Nelson added, “I can confidently say that there will never be another Tyler Bryant to come through the ONSL, had he not been injured in 2020, he’d be a 3-time league pitcher of the year. When and if they start doing a league hall of fame, he’s the first one who should get in. I am so beyond proud of TB. He has worked his tail off to get where he’s at, it took way longer than it should’ve but trust me, he’ll be in Milwaukee soon.”

After graduating, Bryant served as a graduate assistant (GA) at Ottawa University for one year working as an assistant coach with the baseball team. Determined to give his dream one last shot, Bryant's hard work and perseverance paid off when he was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers of Major League Baseball. Thinking back to the signing, Bryant told this story, “We got to the complex and my Manager Pat said ‘Hey, can I see you in my office please?’ So, I went in there and he started to talk about my last outing and how they liked how I pitched and that I was locked in the whole time. However, he would then go on to say, ‘I just don’t think we are going to be able to use you any more though.’ I sat there shocked, not knowing what to do with myself. He continued on to say, ‘because the Milwaukee Brewers are going to be buying out your contract.’”

Afterwards, Bryant flew down to Arizona for testing and approval. His journey is a testament to his resilience and dedication. From being cut in high school to becoming an MLB prospect, his story is one of overcoming adversity.

When reflecting on his entire journey, Bryant said, “Along with my journey it came with a lot of different emotions. However, I don’t think I am the man I am today without going through all those emotions. My message to kids or anyone out there having to go through a hard time. It’s okay to be down. It’s okay what is happening to you! Find a way to get yourself up and keep pushing forward! Learn from how that made you feel and work your hardest to never let that happen to you again! Because at the end of the day if you can get up and say that you did it for you and no one else, you will learn so much more and how capable you are of things you can do. Never give up and never let up!”

As Bryant embarks on his professional career, he carries with him the many lessons learned and the support received throughout his journey. His story serves as an inspiration to all athletes and future players within the Old North State League.

The Old North State League is a college summer wood bat league in North Carolina that features 20 teams not including Burlington and Danville. In 2025, the league plans to expand to 24 teams and has been vetting markets and requests in anticipation of announcing the newest additions.