Matthew Wotherspoon may one day be starting for the Yankees, but until then, he is currently completing his college degree at Wilkes University.
A native of Mountain Top, Pa., Wotherspoon graduated from Crestwood High School in 2010. Having numerous scholarship offers from an array of schools, he chose the University of Pittsburgh to launch his college career.
“Matt is just a kid you root for,” said Jerry Oakes, pitching coach for the University of Pittsburgh. Oakes has dealt directly with Wotherspoon during Wotherspoon’s collegiate athletic career. “We’ve discussed the college ordeal when he signed his contract, and the most important thing we stressed is to make sure he obtains that piece of paper.”
After three years of pitching at the collegiate level, Wotherspoon’s first break was when the Detroit Tigers drafted him out of Pittsburgh in his junior year. However, he turned the offer down by not signing so he was able to attend his senior year of college.
After his spring semester, Wotherspoon was drafted again, this time by the Yankees.
He signed his contract almost immediately and was sent to Tampa, Fla. for a few days, flew to Staten Island for the short season team within the Yankees organization where 90 percent of college athletes are sent to launch their careers.
When out of season and not training Wotherspoon returns home to Pennsylvania where he remains productive within school and working. In 2014, Wotherspoon spent his off-season commuting to Pittsburgh once a week for a night class in addition to taking an online course.
Wotherspoon also worked part time at Orloski’s Car Wash and Lube and provided baseball lessons to children and teenagers.
“It wasn’t about the money for me,” Wotherspoon explained. “I thoroughly enjoy teaching kids and helping them improve to their greatest potential.”
After spring training this year, Wotherspoon was sent to Tampa as a reliever then sent to Charleston, N.C. to play for the Riverdogs as a starter. He remained in Charleston before being called up for a spot start in Trenton earlier this year that is considered AA for the Yankees. Now in offseason, Wotherspoon is now taking his six final credits at Wilkes.
It was much more convenient to choose a local university close to home, Wotherspoon said.
Being involved with baseball for as long as he can remember, Wotherspoon feels his best memories come from his professional career playing for the Riverdogs.
“There’s no better feeling than playing in Charleston on Thursday and Friday nights in front of 8,000 to 9,000 people, especially when it’s firework night,” he exclaimed. “The ball park is an awesome atmosphere and one of my favorite places to play.”
With the perks also come the obstacles. Wotherspoon finds one of the most challenging aspects of professional baseball to be the grind of playing 142 games in 156 days.
The adjustment of transitioning from a professional baseball player to a college student has not been the smoothest ride for Wotherspoon. Being in season half of the year from February to August, and out of season from September to January, the pace of schedule changes are difficult to digest.
“It is almost uncomfortable to sleep in my bed at home for the first two weeks of off season,” he said. “From constantly being on a regimented schedule with a set daily routine, to coming home only having to focus on my courses takes me for a loop.”
Though currently the main goal is to make it to the big leagues, Wotherspoon realizes that finishing his college education is paramount.