Wyatt Mathisen, taken in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, fractured his foot yesterday when a hitter bunted a ball off Mathisen’s foot while catching. Fortunately it was only a small fracture, which should only keep him out of action for a week or two. Mathisen was walking in a boot today at Pirate City.
“Yesterday it was really sore, but today it’s feeling a lot better,” Mathisen said.
The catcher is off to a good start to his pro career, hitting for a .308/.391/.385 line in the Gulf Coast League.
“It’s hard to go out when you’re hitting pretty good. You don’t want to get out of that groove or anything,” Mathisen said of the timing of the injury.
Mathisen was drafted out of high school as a catcher, taken in the second round on day two of the draft. He was rated by some outlets as a top 50 overall draft prospect. The Pirates ended up signing him for the slot price of $746,300, getting him away from a commitment to the University of Texas.
“They called my agent right before they picked me, and asked if I would sign for slot,” Mathisen said of the process. “And we said that would be fine, because that was the price range we were looking at in the first place.”
The Pirates drafted him as a catcher, although he was used more at shortstop by his high school coach due to his athleticism. The Pirates immediately sent him to the Gulf Coast League, although he started his career spending a lot of time as the designated hitter, while working with GCL manager Tom Price, and coach Milver Reyes on his catching.
“I haven’t caught for a couple of months, since the summer really, so they wanted me to work with Princey a lot, and work with Milver [Reyes] before I got a chance to get in to the game,” Mathisen said.
While he spent more time at shortstop, Mathisen did make a few appearances behind the plate this summer.
“During the summer I caught a lot, so it wasn’t like I went back there, blank slate, not knowing anything about catching,” he said of his previous experience.
“It was a little tougher,” he added about the move behind the plate from shortstop, “but Princey is a great coach, and so is Milver, so the transition was a lot easier from shortstop to catcher.”
Mathisen hit with wood bats the last two summers, so the adjustment to wood bats was pretty easy for him. He says that his swing is better for wood bats than metal. Mathisen is a gap to gap hitter who hits with backspin on the ball, rather than hitting with top spin, which works better for aluminum bats. He’s handled the transition to pro ball well. Once he returns from his injury, he will continue to focus on that transition, and the grind of playing every day.
“It was real fast at first,” Mathisen said of the jump to the pros. “Trying to slow down the game, it’s real different than high school. The transition is pretty easy so far. It will get tougher as the year goes on, but it’s pretty easy so far.”