Q&A With Royals Prospect Seuly Matias
Royals outfielder Seuly Matias has some of the best raw power in the minors. After a successful season at low Class A Lexington last season, where he hit .201/.330/.550 with 31 home runs, he's jumped to high Class A Wilmington this season. Baseball America's Justin Coleman spoke to Matias in Spanish and then translated the interview into English for this Q&A.
Justin Coleman: How did your love of baseball begin?
Seuly Matias: In my hometown of La Isabela in Puerto Plata. I would play with my friends when we were just little kids. We would play with rocks and such. I kept playing and that's where my love of the game began.
JC: When you think about your life, where you came from growing up in the Dominican Republic, how would you define your success up to this point in time?
SM: For me, up to this point, it's been really good. I fought and kept fighting to try and make it here. Thanks be to God that I'm here. God gave me the opportunity, and hopefully I can keep fighting and moving forward.
JC: When you were a kid, were you always confident that you would sign with a big league club?
SM: When I was younger, my mom would ask me if I really liked baseball and all. I would tell her yes, and that I would sign a contract. I told her that I had the talent to do so. Someone even told me that I could even be like Vladimir Guerrero one day. Thankfully, I was able to sign a contract, and God placed me here. Hopefully I can keep on achieving.
JC: You didn't sign at the age of 16 due to some issues with your birth certification. What were you thinking during that time when you found out about the problem?
SM: I was frustrated because I did several tryouts but I couldn't sign because everybody said my papers (birth certificate) were not in order. I had thoughts about quitting baseball because of that. Without the document, I really couldn't move forward in the game but thank God everything got solved and the Royals believed in me and helped me out with getting everything in order and then, eventually, signing me.
JC: Your mother didn't have a birth certificate either. Who helped you out to get it done?
SM: Yeah, that's right. She didn't have one at all growing up. My mom is in her 40's and doesn't have documentation. Neither of us had official birth certificates. Imagine that … if she grew up without them, how was I going to have them? My stepfather started to help me out with all of that. We didn't have any money or resources either. My trainer also helped when I signed with him. I'm really grateful for their help during this time.
JC: Considering that you have lived here a few seasons, what do you think has been the most difficult adjustment and what did you learn from it?
SM: The main differences, in my opinion, are probably the food and the language. I think the most difficult has been the language adjustment. Thankfully I have been learning and improving my English here with the organization and my teammates. The more I take the time to keep learning, the easier the adjustments have been to life here in the States.
JC: During your time in the minor leagues, what have you learned about yourself not only as a player but as a person as well?
SM: I've learned to really appreciate everything around me. Things aren't easy, so you need to appreciate and value the little things. I know everything will get better over time, and I hope God allows me to play in the big leagues some day.
JC: You played in the Dominican Winter league. How was that experience, and what kind of differences did you see between the minors and Winter ball?
SM: I think the biggest difference is that it's a tournament. It's difficult, lots of pretty good breaking stuff from the pitchers. It almost mimics the big leagues in a way. I learned so much. It was really helpful to see how various pitchers might attack me and what I can do in response. I think the overall experienced helped me out a lot.
JC: Were you a bit surprised at the age differences in winter ball? You have some younger guys, some veterans, a pretty good mix.
SM: Yeah, no question. That's one of the reasons it was pretty difficult. The veterans know how to approach you, what they need to do to get you out and how to go about their business. It was a challenge but also something I learned from.
JC: You had a great season last year. What worked so well for you?
SM: I just kept working, and maintaining the work I was doing. I was fortunate enough to be able to execute on the field. It was about translating it onto the field, and I'm thankful that God allowed me to do that.
JC: What's your goal for this year, and what are some things you'd like to improve upon?
SM: This year I'm hoping to better understand and refine my strike zone and pitch selection. That's important. I want to strike out much less. My ultimate goal for the future, of course, is to eventually play in the big leagues.
JC: Who has been your biggest influence, and what did you learn from them?
SM: Well, here with the club, the coaches have helped me out so much. In particular, Larry Sutton has helped me a great deal. Back home in the Dominican, I was working with my coach that helped me before I was signed. He kept pushing me to do my best and had my best intentions at heart.
JC: Who are some players that have inspired you?
SM: Carlos Gomez has inspired me a lot and helped me out. I also had the pleasure of meeting Nelson Cruz in the Dominican Republic. Their words of encouragement and advice will help me to fight as best as I can this season. It's great when a big league veteran offers you some advice so I can keep learning. Cruz and Gomez have both been great to me.
JC: With your success this past season, have you changed your mentality at all?
SM: For me, I always try to do my best on the field. I play as hard as I can, and see where that takes me. Just keep working hard, nothing has changed on that end.