Matos, who did not return inquiries for comment, was taken in the 10th round of the MLB Draft by the Royals and recently came to terms with the ball club after an amazing high school season where he led the PSAL A Division with a .612 average.
The Clinton catcher, originally from New Rochelle before moving to Florida and then coming to the Bronx this season, had first worked out for the Royals the same day the Governors ended a Cinderella run in the playoffs with a semifinal loss.
Coach Robert Miller did not hold ill will toward the senior, whose strong bat and patience behind home plate helped lead the young team to the improbable playoff run, but originally questioned whether or not Matos was ready for what lies ahead.
“I thought he would have done real well having one year of junior college baseball under his belt before he attempted a run with a major league team,” said Miller. “That was just my take.”
But in recent conversations with the player and his coaching staff, Miller is singing a different tune, believing Matos will be afforded all the opportunities to improve his game and make an impact for the Kansas City ball club that made stars of George Brett, Bo Jackson and Frank White, among others.
“With the way they have the minor league system structured, I think he is going to be ok,” said Miller.
Matos, who also had 27 RBI’s and 14 stolen bases, brought more than physical attributes to the team, helping to discover several pitching prospects, including Wagas Ali, who turned a solid outing against Lehman into a full-time starting position. Miller credits Matos for taking the time with pitchers and keeping them calm in tough situations. For Miller, Matos was a true student of baseball.
“A lot of city kids have the physical abilities to play the game, but do not understand the little nuances of baseball that make a big difference,” said Miller, offering as an example, Matos’ ability to read pitchers to make up for his lack of speed.
The Clinton coach states that he rarely had to tell Matos what to do in a game, adding that, for the most part, he left him alone, and the future big league star responded with some big moments for the team, especially as a hitter.
“You could tell he’s practiced for a long time,” said Miller. “He has a lot of power and is quite the hitter. He really came through for us.”