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Chasing The Dream: The Matt Bywater Story and Interview

In 2010 the Baltimore Orioles selected left-handed starting pitcher Matt Bywater in the seventh round. While most college pitchers sign relatively fast Bywater considered putting off his chase of a major league baseball career for his senior season at Pepperdine. In the final hours before the deadline period was to end, Bywater ultimately decided to begin his pursuit of the majors.

Matt Bywater: Quick Stats

Team: Baltimore Orioles Twitter:  @byweezie

Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 190 lb. Born: June 15, 1989 in Thousand Oaks, California, US (Age 22)

Drafted:  Baltimore Orioles in the 7th round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft

Favorite Player: Clayton Kershaw

Chasing The Dream: The Matt Bywater Story

In 2010 the Baltimore Orioles selected left-handed starting pitcher Matt Bywater in the seventh round. While most college pitchers sign relatively fast Bywater considered putting off his chase of a major league baseball career for his senior season at Pepperdine. In the final hours before the deadline period was to end, Bywater ultimately decided to begin his pursuit of the majors. In this weeks Chasing The Dream we take a look at the early stages of the career of Matt Bywater as he continues chasing his dream to the majors.

Before his professional career began, Bywater was a three-year star for the Pepperdine Waves baseball program. Each of his three seasons he earned All-WCC accolades. As a freshman in 2008 he was named to the All-WCC Freshman Team. In 2009 after posting a 6-1 record with a 3.57 ERA in 10 starts he went on to earn himself All-WCC First Team honors. For Bywater it was his superb junior season that really got many major league teams to notice him. At the beginning of the 2010 season Bywater faced the difficult Cal State Fullerton baseball team. The Titans at the time featured current Giants top prospect Gary Brown and Royals top shortstop prospect Christian Colon.  Scouts took notice as he shut down the Titans baseball team on the mound. It was from this moment that the Orioles and other teams around the league began to watch Bywater more closely as the draft approached. As the college season came to an end Bywater finished with a 6-5 record as the Waves offense did not help him with some much-needed runs during the season. To go with a 2.40 ERA, the left hander also posted an NCAA best four shutouts on the season and was once again selected to the All-WCC First Team. Bywater had positioned himself well as the 2010 Draft approached.

Bywater and his mustache with the Shorebirds last season

Since it was late in the season after the deal was done the lefty huraler did not get into his first professional action until the 2011 season. After spending the start of the season in extended spring training Bywater split time between the Gulf Coast League Orioles and the Delmarva Shorebirds. In the GCL, Bywater dominated with a 0.59 ERA in 15.1 innings pitched. He also posted a superb 10.0 SO/9 ratio which led to a quick promotion to the South Atlantic League. With the Shorebirds, Bywater started 9 games at the end of the season. He posted an 0-4 record with a respectable 3.77 ERA and continued to strike out batters at a 10.1 SO/9 rate. Control however was an issue to the lefty. In 45 innings pitched he walked 32 batters which averages out to be 6.4/9.

Heading into his professional career Bywater was not known as a power pitcher, he features a fastball that normally sits 88 to 89 mph. The command of his fastball is vital in order for him to be successful as his change-up is considered a plus pitch and it was rated as one of the best in the entire 2010 draft. Bywater must work on his control off all four pitches to continue to advance through the Orioles system. Currently Bywater is in extended spring training with the Orioles working on just that. Once he is ready however Bywater will be back on the mound with one of the Orioles affiliates.

Be sure to follow Chasing MLB Dreams as we continue to follow Matt’s path to the majors. We will keep everyone up to date on his performances during the 2012 season and beyond. If you’re not already following the entertaining Matt Bywater on twitter please do @byweezie or catch him at his home away from home Applebees.

Seven Questions with Matt Bywater 

What was it like to be drafted? What were you doing when you found out the Orioles selected you?

Getting drafted out of Pepperdine was a dream come true. It had been my dream ever since the start of high school when I started to realize I actually had a future in baseball. When I found out the Orioles drafted me I was at home with my parents, nervous, and staring at the Draft Tracker on my computer screen.

Leading up to the draft, did you think the Orioles were going to be the team to draft you? Who was the scout in the O’s organization who helped convince the “War Room” to select you?

Leading up to the draft, I had no idea the Orioles were going to draft me. I was getting calls from a bunch of the teams but had never personally spoken to the Orioles on draft day. I remember I had thrown my first game of my junior season at Cal State Fullerton and soon after I was told there were some pretty high up Orioles staff members in attendance, but the scout who convinced them is Gil Kubski.

Once you were selected, You didn’t sign to the very end of the signing period. Looking back can you explain the signing process? Was there one deciding factor that made you sign with the O’s and not go back to College?

For me, the signing process was one of the most stressful times I’ve experienced so far. There is just a lot of back and forth action between the player/my agent and the team. I knew that signing with the Orioles that year would be best for me and my career, and to this day I still believe It was a wonderful decision.

What would you say the Orioles philosophy is when it comes to young pitchers in the lower levels of the minor leagues? Is there any specifics they really preach / try to instill in their players?
The Orioles really care about their Minor Leaguers and developing them as much as possible. That is just about all you can ask for as a player.
Can you give us a bit of a scouting report on yourself? (What Pitches do you throw, strengths and weaknesses)
As for a scouting report on myself, I throw 4 pitches. A 4 seam fb, 2 seam fb, a change-up, and a slider. The biggest thing I need to work on at the moment is cutting down on my walks per outing.
Looking back at 2011, which was your first professional season, what is your most memorable moment of the season?
My most memorable moment about last season would have to be the last game of the year that I pitched in. I’ve never considered myself to be a strikeout pitcher, and so to end my first professional season with the last 6 outs all being strikeouts was pretty funny to me.
What is one specific thing you hope to work in the 2012 season?
 The biggest thing I plan to work on is throwing a lot more strikes and let the defense behind me make the plays.
A Few For Fun 
Favorite Baseball player growing up? Favorite non-baseball athlete? and Why?
Fave baseball player: Clayton Kershaw because he’s a young lefty and a stud on the mound.
Fave non baseball player: Derek Rose because he’s a baller and a playmaker.
Favorite TV Show?
Fave tv show: (it’s a tie between) New Girl and Modern Family
Whats on heavy rotation in the IPOD right now?
Currently on my iPod: it’s a homemade playlist my friends made for me. It has everything from rap, house, country, and alternative. So basically everything.
I would like to thank Matt for taking some time out of his schedule to answer some questions. I look forward to following him during the 2012 season and into the future. If you don’t already I highly recommend following Matt on twitter at @byweezie as he is not only entertaining but also is very interactive with his followers. If you have liked what you have read here please check out the rest of our stories on our website and give our site a follow on twitter for new updates at @CTD_Sypien

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