FORT MYERS, Fla. – It was with a single purpose in mind that top catching prospect Wyatt Mathisen and his father, Jamie Mathisen, made the trip from their home in Corpus Christi, Texas, here this weekend for the 2012 Perfect Game World Showcase.
“I’m just trying to get better, working hard down here and trying to increase my draft stock a little bit,” Mathisen said Saturday afternoon while standing just outside the batting cages at the four-field Terry Park complex. “I’m trying to compete with the best down here and increase my (Perfect Game) ranking and try to impress the scouts a little bit more. It’s another chance for the scouts to see me.”
Leaning against a fence just down the right field line at Terry Park’s main stadium Sunday morning before Wyatt played the second of his two games at the World Showcase, Jamie Mathisen echoed the same thoughts.
“We’ve kind of taken care of the college side of it – we’re committed to Texas – but we’re still working on seeing where we can fall out in the (MLB First-Year Player Draft). So we’re here to try to showcase what we’ve got for those folks,” Jamie said. “At this point, it’s just trying to better our stock and trying to show what we can do.”
There seemed to be a lot of outstanding catchers at the World Showcase this weekend, many from Puerto Rico – the island that produced Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Benito Santiago, Geovany Soto and Benjie, Jose and Yadier Molina, among others.
This weekend, Mathisen competed in the arm speed and POP time workouts with many of the other top-ranked catchers in the class of 2012, although at No. 60 overall nationally and No. 5 at the catcher position, he trumped the others in the field, ranking-wise.
Puerto Rican standout Bryan De La Rosa, a Florida State recruit ranked 143rd overall nationally and No. 15 at the position, recorded both the top arm velocity at 85 mph (home to second base) and a POP time of 1.71 seconds.
Mathisen equaled De La Rosa with an 85 mph velocity but trailed De La Rosa, Miami’s Christopher Chinea (1.80) and Huntsville, Ala.’s, Ian Rice (1.80) with a POP time of 1.84. Puerto Ricans Wilfredo Rodriguez and Cristian Munoz, and Miami’s Alejandro Mangano matched Mathisen’s 1.84 POP time.
Chinea, an LSU recruit, is the nation’s eighth-ranked catcher prospect, Rodriguez is ranked 11th and Munoz 25th.
Mathisen looked forward to mingling with and competing against the talented group.
“It’s better to be around a lot of real good catchers because it just makes yourself even better knowing that you have to play better and improve your performance to be able to keep up with everybody else who’s doing good here,” he said. “If you’re surrounded with a bunch of players that aren’t as good as you, you’re going to play down to their level and not get any better.”
Mathisen was also placed on the PG Dark Green team at the World Showcase, a squad that was loaded with talent. The roster included right-hander Matthew Ferreira (2012, Deltona, Fla.), outfielder Fernelys Sanchez (2012, New York City) and catcher/first baseman and Perfect Game All-American Nelson Rodriguez (2012, New York City).
Those three players were teammates of Mathisen’s last summer on Team Citius, a Dallas-based travel team that the foursome played with at the 2011 WWBA 2011 Grads or 18u National Championship, the 2011 WWBA 2012 Grads or 17u National Championship and at the 18u BCS Finals.
“A lot of these guys, we played all summer together so it’s fun playing with the same guys again,” Mathisen said.
In all, Mathisen has played in seven WWBA tournaments and the one BCS Final. He’s played in two WWBA World Championships (with the Ohio Warhawks in 2010 and Texas PG Teal last year) and also played in the 2011 Area Code Games. This was his first Perfect Game showcase event.
“Just getting all these great players down here in one area is awesome so you can compete with the best in the country,” he said. “There aren’t any other events that will get this many good players together to be able to compete with.”
Mathisen put his emphasis this weekend was on improving his catching skills, although he hit two long home runs during his batting practice Saturday morning (a PG scout reported he owned a “loose and whippy swing”). But he most wanted the scouts to recognize he can be a quality catcher in the future.
“I always have high expectations for myself going into any event, but I’ve been working really hard lately on my catching,” he said. “I’m trying to get it all down right now so the scouts can see that I can catch at the next level, and they can spend money on me and have that trust in me to be able to catch.”
“Just being able to go the venues where all the scouts are at, whether it’s college or major league, being able to get in front of large group, it gives him a better opportunity of showing what he can do,” Jamie Mathisen said of the experience of being here.
As previously stated, Mathisen – who sports a 4.2 GPA –has signed on to become a Texas Longhorn. He likes the idea that UT’s Austin campus is just three hours from his home in Corpus Christi and his father will be able to come watch him play. There were other things he liked about the program, as well.
“I committed early in my junior year after I just went up there for a couple of visits, and just with the tradition and the coaches and just knowing how good they’ve always been, it wasn’t a hard decision for me when they offered me a scholarship to pick that school,” Mathisen said.
Of course, if the draft position and money are both right, Mathisen may never play a game or take a class at UT. Anyway it plays out, Jamie Mathisen couldn’t be happier with the journey he and his son have been on.
“I wouldn’t have changed anything,” he said. “All the years that we’ve grown up traveling all over the country doing all this stuff, it’s been some of the best times of our lives as a family.
“I think it’s every parent’s dream to watch their kid play baseball.”