Baseball Hotbed Produces Another Hurler: Q&A with Matt Canterino
Image courtesy of Image courtesy of Maria Lysaker of Rice AthleticsSelected right after fellow Conference USA competitor, and Cape Cod teammate Matt Wallner, Canterino joins the Twins organization with some familiarity on his side. One of the things most obvious about Canterino is his unique delivery, but whatever questions remain about it, the results seem to provide plenty of answers. Here’s some answers to the burning questions we had for the newest draftee.
Twins Daily: As a Texas kid going to a baseball power like Rice, was playing for the Owls always one of the benchmarks or goals in your baseball career?
Matt Canterino: Rice was always my first choice for college ever since my older brother, Daniel, looked at it while he was applying for college. I knew that Rice was a prestigious university and had a great pedigree in baseball also, so it felt like a perfect fit. I was so happy that Rice was my first offer for baseball, and I have had no regrets about the University.
TD: Having dominated Conference USA for the last two seasons what would attribute your success too? Both your fastball and slider have been noted as strong pitches, but what about the way you attack hitters or prepare has set you up for success?
MC: I believe that I know the game relatively well. I can keep up with what’s going on and understand the nuances of various parts of the game, such as pitch calling and pressure situations. My philosophy is that I make sure I put in all the preparation I need to succeed. That preparation has resulted in the quality stuff that I have, such as my slider and fastball. Now, it is just about having the confidence to use that stuff to my advantage in games.
TD: You have faced fellow Twins draftee Matt Wallner plenty over your college career. What can you tell us about his presence in the box, his ability, and him as a competitor?
MC: Matt Wallner was always somebody that stood out on our scouting report and was someone that we felt like we had to plan extra for. He and I are similar in the fact that we have both had relative success since our freshman year, so you can just see his confidence grow and grow after each year as well. We played with each other over the summer too and got to know each other as teammates, so I know he wants to win just as much as I do.
TD: Pitching has become more than just a feel on the mound, or trial and error type of process. With Edgertronic cameras and a focus on things like spin rate to find analytical advantages, have you been able to incorporate any of the new technology into your preparation?
MC: I have had limited interaction with the next-level technology that is being incorporated into baseball. I am, however, extremely excited in becoming more familiar with it. It has helped so many pitchers refine their stuff just from numbers on a screen. It’s a new approach to the game of baseball that can improve most anybody to some degree, if analyzed correctly.
TD: You have a unique delivery and it no doubt creates a level of deception on the mound. Has there been any big leaguer you've emulated or modeled your game after over the course of your career?
MC: I have had my unorthodox delivery since my junior year of high school, and it just was something that came about in order to keep my top-half and lower-half in sync. I did not start doing it in order to emulate someone in particular. The part of my game that emulate after professionals the most is how I attack hitters. I love getting ahead with all my pitches and putting hitters in uncomfortable counts. In that way I think I might be similar to someone like Kyle Hendricks or maybe Jon Lester.
TD: A 3.99 GPA is no joke and doing it within a Mechanical Engineering field is only that much more impressive. How has your level of intelligence allowed you a competitive advantage on the diamond? Are there specific or unique ways in which you prepare to attack an opposing lineup?
MC: While being a good baseball player and a good mechanical engineer are obviously very different tasks, I think both are similar a bit in terms of a lot of adjustments are needed in order to succeed. I think this is one of my strengths when I pitch. I know the scouting report well when I go out on the mound, so I have a game plan. Then, when I see something that doesn’t quite add up, I am able to change that game plan so that it improves and gives my team the best chance to win. Baseball is a game of failure for hitters, so my job as a pitcher is to try to exploit that by maintaining that advantage.
TD: Being selected by the Minnesota Twins, have you been to the state before? Target Field? What do you know about the organization?
MC: I have never been to Minnesota before, but I have heard nothing but great things about the Twin Cities and Target Field. I know that two of the past three Rice pitchers to pitch in the MLB have been with the Minnesota Twins in J.T. Chargois and Tyler Duffey. I want to be able to keep that legacy going and improve upon it.
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