Pulaski Yankees reliever Matthew Wivinis is off to a hot start in pinstripes. In five appearances, he has struck out 14 batters and only walked one while surrendering five hits and no runs. He is also two for two in save situations.
With his stellar numbers, many fans would probably assume that Wivinis breezed through high school and college before becoming a professional pitcher. During his sophomore year at Kansas State, he had 46 strikeouts in 68.1 innings and did not allow a run in either of his two appearances during the NCAA Super Regional.
But his journey to playing in the Yankees organization was not an easy one. The next season, Wivinis suffered an arm injury that sidelined him for what would have been his junior season.
“It was the fall of my junior year I hurt my arm so I had Tommy John [surgery] the following January,” he said.
Following the injury, Wivinis lost his scholarship at Kansas State and transferred to Eastern Illinois University.
“My numbers there weren’t very good so it was a little bit of a struggle,” he said on his time at Eastern Illinois.
Following his senior year, Wivinis was not selected in the 2016 MLB Draft but that failed to deter him from pursuing a career as a professional baseball player.
“After I didn’t get drafted there was basically two choices– I could either stop playing baseball or I could keep trying,” he said.
During college, Wivinis played in a collegiate summer league all-star game. One of the coaches happened to be the hitting coach for the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League.
“I got a tryout with [Evansville], but they didn’t call me back until about two weeks later and then I was able to sign with them.”
“I started off in the bullpen for them- became kind of like the setup guy and then after that they moved me to starter because we needed another one and I had been starting in college,” said Wivinis.
He put together a dominant season for the Otters, going 4-0 with a 1.58 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 12 appearances during the regular season, and then earned two wins during the Frontier League playoffs.
The team would end up winning the league championship, and a short time later, the Yankees came a-calling.
He believes that a key to his early success in Pulaski has been his mindset on the mound.
“I just try not to think about the situations that I’m in because pitching is pitching- if you go out there and you do one thing different one time it may not work the next time,” Wivinis said.
Another reason he believes stems from his fondness of Pulaski.
“I love the park and the fans. I think it’s the perfect baseball town,” he shared.
A career in baseball is about talent, ability and dedication-three things Wivinis has proven to possess. It appears as though he will continue to thrive on the mound late in the games when the pressure is at its peak.