Matt Tomshaw was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 42nd
round of the 2011 draft out of Jacksonville University. Upon signing, he went to the GCL, but soon he was used by the Ft. Myers Miracle. Impressively, he became the Miracle’s best starter the last month of the season. Tomshaw is a 6-2, 200 pound left-hander who may not throw hard, but he knows how to pitch.
In 2012, he began the season in the Beloit bullpen. It wasn’t long before he was in the rotation. He missed a month with injury, but he proved to be a consistent, quality starter for the Snappers. Overall, he was 4-6 with a 3.02 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 86.1 innings. He should spend the 2013 season back with the Ft. Myers Miracle.
He recently answered some questions for our newest 12 Questions segment, and it begins now.
TWELVE QUESTIONS WITH… Matt Tomshaw
1.) Growing up in New York, who was your favorite team and who were some of your favorite players?
MT: My favorite team growing up was the New York Yankees. When I started to fall in love with baseball at a young age Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez, Mariano Rivera, and Roger Clemens were all the Yankees that I would imagine myself being while playing in the back yard with my friends and family.
2.) Tell us about your high school career (baseball and/or other extra-curriculars).
MT: Baseball by far was my favorite sport in high school, but I ventured out quite a bit, playing football in my first two years, and basketball for two years in the later part of my high school career. I had to stop playing football because of my crazy schedule with baseball. Traveling all over the country during the summer prohibited me from training with the football team so I gave that up and “fall ball” didn’t really give me time for basketball some years. All that time spent traveling really helped me to get seen and signed by Jacksonville University. Basketball is my second love. I am not the best at it but it pushed me to work harder trying to keep up with the guys that were faster and taller than me. I played varsity baseball for three years under Mike Groppuso, a former first round pick by the Houston Astros back in 1991. I developed and matured as a person under his watch.
3.) What were some of the highlights of your college playing days at Jacksonville U?
MT: Some of the highlights I remember most from college include, going to two regional tournaments both in Gainesville, Florida, my sophomore and senior years were an experience that I will cherish forever. The atmosphere where every game was win or go home, every big play that was made I felt like a kid again. So happy to be playing baseball. One of my biggest wins was against University of Florida during the regular season at their stadium. They just came off taking two from Vanderbilt that weekend. At the time, Florida was ranked 4th
in the nation, and we ended up beating them 11-2. After the College World Series was over and Florida finished 2nd
only to South Carolina, did it hit me how big of a win that was. Also in my senior year in game 1 of the conference tournament against Eastern Tennessee State University, I threw a complete game allowing 5 hits, 1 unearned run and winning 2-1.
4.) The Twins drafted you in the 42nd round of the 2011 draft... were there a lot of other scouts talking to you? The Twins have drafted several players from the college.
MT: Well truthfully the Twins were the only team that talked to me at all. Another reason why the UF game was so big my senior year was because that was the first time that any scout showed interest in me, at least to my knowledge. I didn’t receive letters or questionnaires at all during the season. The next game they came to watch me pitch was in that game one of the conference against ETSU. After the game, my coach let me know that the Twins were interested in drafting me. The final day of the draft I was watching the computer screen in my room wondering if I would have to go get a “real job” or get to play this game that I love some more. When I saw my name go across the screen I just fell backwards onto my bed and smiled. I was and am so thankful that someone gave me a chance to play baseball at the professional level. I’ve always dreamed about making it to the MLB ever since tee ball. I have to say it is pretty cool seeing some of the guys I played with in college like Jamaal Hawkins, Adam Brett Walker and Jonathan Murphy in the same farm system. It’s nice to see familiar faces and have relationships through the long season with all the ups and downs that occur.
5.) You signed quickly and went to Ft. Myers. After several appearances for the GCL, you moved across the parking lot to help the Ft. Myers Miracle, becoming one of their best pitchers down the stretch. How would you describe your adjustment to pro baseball and what did you learn from that first season?
MT: The adjustment from college to professional baseball was something I liked. I liked going to class and taking tests and all, but I have to say after I graduated and went to Fort Myers, I was happy to just be waking up at the crack of dawn to play baseball. Some of the challenges I had were making the adjustment and staying mentally focused the entire day. The days in the GCL included an entire practice before every game, every day. One of the attributes that I like a lot is the laid back feel of pro baseball. Yes, you concentrate and work hard at improving yourself, but you also take a step back and have a good time because you’re doing what you love.
6.) You moved to the Midwest League and had a very good season despite missing some time with injury. You started in the bullpen but quickly became a mainstay in the starting rotation. What are your highlights from this 2012 season in Beloit, the team and the full-season?
MT: Working with Gary Lucas, the pitching coach, was a blast. He brought all of his experience and knowledge that he attained from his Major League career and helped mentor us throughout the year on and off the field. I’m originally from New York and I have lived in Florida now since I finished with school so the Midwest wasn’t exactly a familiar place to me. Seeing all the farms and meeting such nice people everywhere made the year more enjoyable. In my first full season, I had some growing pains. After the injury, I knew what I had to do as far as maintenance for the arm which made it easier on me mentally, just knowing that everything is okay in there. The guys on the team were awesome. Playing with guys like Sano, Rosario and Vargas bring a comedic atmosphere to the ball club, which helps ease the tension when times are tough.
7.) How would you describe yourself as a pitcher? What pitches do you throw? What is your out-pitch, and tell us about… “The Thing.”
MT: I think I’m a pitcher in the traditional sense; I mix up my pitching sequence and the speeds to hinder the batter’s sense of comfort in the batter’s box. I do my best to get hitters out with the minimum number of pitches thrown. I try to induce as many groundball outs as possible. That keeps the defense on their toes and in the game, and for the most part keeps me in the game as long as possible. The pitches I throw include two seam (sinker), four seam fastball, curveball, changeup, cutter, and what I call a knuckle split. I rely a lot on the two seam for the majority of the groundballs that I get. Well I started throwing “The Thing” when I was around 10-11 years old. My father was a good baseball player and knows quite a bit about the game and told me that I wasn’t allowed to throw any off speed like my friends because my arm wasn’t developed or strong enough to regularly throw them. Growing up a Yankees fan, I watched Tim Wakefield quite a bit. I tried to replicate the grip that he held the ball with, but I eventually found a grip that worked and my father approved. As a kid I always wanted to throw things as fast as I could and that didn’t change when I throw “The Thing”. Ever since then I’ve thrown it at every level. Usually everywhere I go, the pitching coaches are weary of it because it’s not what they are used to working with. I remember my freshman year of college my pitching coach wouldn’t call the pitch, but with a little bit of persuasion he allowed me to throw it and it created more opportunities for me. The reason I call it a knuckle split is because I hold it like one and when I throw it, I throw it with around the same effort level as the fastball but because of the grip it has a knuckling movement back and forth, with drop off when it reaches the batter. Some days I find myself getting around it a little more than normal and it will cut into a righty. Most of the time it will break down or even occasionally away from a righty. That messes with catchers sometimes. As for an out pitch I would like to say the knuckle split, but I also like to use my curveball to get out of many jams. The curveball is a safer pitch to throw with runners on base because of the fact that the knuckle split has a later break and with a little bit more of spontaneity.
8.) When did you start preparing for the 2013 season, and what did you learn from your first full season to help you prepare for the length of the season?
MT: I started preparing right away. When I say that, I didn’t go right from Beloit to home and start working out. I would spend time thinking about what Gary Lucas suggested I worked on this off season, and what shoulder programs I would do to keep my arm as strong as possible. The first season was filled with new learning experiences for me when it came to eating healthy and preparing your body for the everyday grind that is asked upon all of us. Eating healthier will be my objective this year. It’s hard getting out around 11 at night and getting the proper nutrients to get you ready for the next day. I have some things I will be doing to ensure I’m making the right food choices majority of the time.
9.) Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career as a baseball player?
MT: No doubt, without my parents’ support and help, I would have never gotten any of these opportunities that I have been grateful for. My father literally went on every tournament, every showcase all over the country with me. They both supported me and kept me on the right path to success. Every coach that I have ever had has shaped me in some way or the other to be the baseball player I am today. From my friend’s dad back in Tee Ball, Billy Stote, to my Travel coaches Bob Brinkman, Bob Schlanger and Bill Buckman, to my high coaches Mike Groppuso, T.D. Mills, to my college coaches Terry Alexander, and Tim Montez, to the pitching coordinator Eric Rasmussen and the pitching coaches Ivan Arteaga, Steve Mintz and Gary Lucas. All of the teammates I’ve had have played a big part as well in my development.
10.) If you weren't playing baseball, what would you be doing (your career of choice)?
MT: Well if baseball wasn’t an option, I would use my degree in finance and work somewhere in the financial world. This offseason I had a job as a Mortgage Professional helping people try to refinance their current mortgages. Before I could be licensed to be a Loan Officer I had to leave that job to start training longer and harder, and the hours didn’t mesh well with my throwing and training schedule.
11.) Favorite baseball movie?
MT: I would say I’m torn between The Rookie and Major League. Major League is so funny and I can watch it multiple times a year and still laugh at the same jokes and antics every time like it’s my first time. But The Rookie just always gives me hope that one day I will be blessed enough to make it to the Majors and do my best.
12.) Favorite baseball book?
MT: “The Science of Hitting” by Ted Williams was a book my uncle gave to me as a kid. I still can picture to this day the hitter’s zone that Ted illustrated in the book showing where his weaknesses and strengths were as a hitter. I remember the different colors that were attributed with each zone. As a pitcher, I always shoot for the gray color zones which for Ted was in the outside bottom third of the zone where he would average a batting average between .230-.270.
Thank you Matt! Best of luck in spring training and throughout the 2013 season!