LONG BEACH, Calif. — Scouts here at the Area Code Games will have to bear down on Wyatt Mathisen, especially if they want to see him behind the plate. The rising senior from Calallen High in Corpus Christi, Texas shows good tools behind the plate—and catcher is his natural position—but he mainly pitches and plays shortstop for his high school team.
"I play shortstop and pitch at my high school, because that's just what we needed," Mathisen said. "This last year, we had a really good catcher that's going to Tulane or something, so we had a good catcher and they didn't need me there, but next year I think we might have a couple transfers coming in from different schools and they play middle infield, so when I'm not pitching and they have enough time to get me rest, I might get a couple games in [at catcher]."
Mathisen caught during Friday night's game and showed a strong arm, ripping off a 1.94 pop time down to second base.
"I've been catching since I was about 10 years old," Mathisen said. "Me and the other pitcher on our Little League team just switched back and forth and that's when I really started catching. It's been my main spot since I was like 13, but in high school I haven't caught that much.
"I come out here and I haven't caught in five months. I was a little rusty. Everything is good except for my blocking. Blocking's tough because you have to practice it and get used to it and get in the groove. I still work on my throws when I'm not catching, so the only thing that's hard is blocking, basically."
Mathisen, who verbally committed to Texas last November, also shows good strength at the plate. As the Rangers' designated hitter today, he went 2-for-3 with a double that he hammered down the left field line and a jam shot single over the shortstop's head.
He said it's been fun to play at Blair Field, because his two favorite big leaguers are Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitzki.
"By far, they both have the best hair in the major leagues," Mathisen said. "I'm a big supporter of the mullet these days. I love long hair—and they have the two sweetest swings."
The Area Code Baseball Games presented by New Balance is the last big event for Mathisen this summer. He said he'll take some time off to work on improving his speed, but he has big plans for the fall and for next spring.
"We've made it to the state finals two years in a row and we lost both times, so that's really hitting it hard," Mathisen said. "So, that's going to be the main thing this year and I'm just going to do whatever I can to improve my draft status and my play to get better all-around."
In addition to the normal teenage activities—going to the movies, bowling and playing "Call of Duty"—Mathisen said he and his friends get really into tennis every fall.
"We play a lot and we get pretty good at it during the fall because we have nothing else to do, but then baseball comes and we can't play, so we lose it," Mathisen said. "It helps with my hand-eye coordination, helps with quick feet, the only thing is you can roll your ankles. I haven't done it yet, but that's why my parents have a problem with me playing. But it helps, and the backhanded swing helps my lefty swing, which I'm actually going to be trying in the fall, maybe try to switch-hit a little bit. I've done it in the past, but that's what I'm going to try to do in the fall."
And, if you couldn't tell from the quotes, Mathisen is also quite the chatterbox—which is a good quality for a catcher.
"When I start talking, it just gets going," he said. "Like yesterday, I went down to the bullpen after I was done hitting and they told me I had to leave because I was talking too much. I drank an energy drink and just got out of control."
Long Beach Leftovers
• Shortstop Alex Bregman from Albuquerque Academy had a nice day at the plate, going 2-for-4 and making hard contact in three of his at-bats. In his first at-bat, Bregman showed off his hustle by stretching a line drive over the shortstop's head into a double. He flew out to center field in his next two at-bats, but then ended his day with a stand-up triple to the gap in left center. Bregman also made a few nice plays at shortstop. Without a game on tomorrow's schedule, the Bregman family was inspired by The Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" and will be trying their hand at shark fishing.
• Catchers Chris Harvey (Germantown Academy, Fort Washington, Pa.) and Darrell Miller Jr. (Servite High, Anaheim), as well as shortstop Tanner Rahier (Palm Desert High, Indian Wells, Calif.) also hit doubles today.
• Shortstop Kyle Overstreet from Boaz, Ala., provided the defensive highlight of the day. Overstreet rushed in on a slow chopper over the mound, fielded the ball up near his chest on a tough, in-between hop, quickly spun and fired a rocket to first to barely get the runner.
• The most interesting arm on display today belonged to righthander Freddy Avis from Menlo High in Atherton, Calif. Avis has an athletic build at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. He showed good balance in his delivery and a quick arm from a high three-quarters arm slot. Avis' fastball was in the 91-93 mph range and he mixed in an inconsistent 72-74 mph curveball and an 83-84 mph changeup. The Stanford commit struck out three over his two innings.
• North Carolina assistant coach Scott Jackson left the Area Code Games early yesterday to see two of his former players—Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager—as the Mariners played the Angels in Anaheim.
"I kind of struggled last night whether or not to go over there or to stay and watch, but I thought it was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Jackson said. "You never know if you're going to be able to see them together again. Sure enough, I showed up and looked out on the field and there they are, taking BP. It was a pretty special moment for me, no doubt. We're always so busy in the summer and spring, so you never know if you'll get the chance to do this again, so I took full advantage of it."
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