In the 12th round of the 2018 MLB Draft, the Yankees selected INF/OF Matt Pita from VMI. We got a chance to catch up with the newest Yankee prospect after he heard the news. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: What was your initial reaction to being drafted by the Yankees?
A: Just excitement, I’m stoked, it’s always been a dream of mine to play for the Yankees, I’ve been a Yankees fan ever since I was a little kid, so it was incredible to get that phone call.
Q: What made you a Yankee fan because I see you’re from Virginia
A: Just growing up watching Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, all of those guys made me a fan.
Q: How would you describe your work ethic and what assets do you have that can help the Yankees and their minor league teams be successful?
A: I have a really good work ethic, I always had to work for everything I’ve gotten because of my size so I’m always in the cages, I’m always working and I can help the Yankees in many ways because I can play many positions, I can hit for power, contact, I have good speed so I can help the Yankees in a lot of ways.
Q: It says on the VMI roster that you can play both infield and outfield, have the Yankees said what they were planning on putting you at?
A: They talked to me yesterday and they said I’d be playing a little bit of everywhere so they haven’t really told me specifically any positions I’ll be playing at but they said they’ll be putting me everywhere.
Q: Does being 5’10” give you any motivation?
A: Yeah, a lot of people have told me that I’d never make it and that I’m too small to make it so it’s always been something I had to play against I’d say it’s helped me so it’s been a little thing I can put a chip on my shoulder to play with.”
Q: You led VMI in pretty much every major hitting category this season, do you like being the star of the team or would you rather fly under the radar?
A: Yeah, it’s always nice being the big guy on the team and stuff, I always just try to help the team in every way I can and go out there everyday and everyday is a new day and try to put up good numbers everyday.
Q: How would you describe your profession as a player?
A: Going from High School to College was a totally different game, pitching is a lot different, just the whole game speeds up and the jump to pro ball will be the same way but you just have to make adjustments everyday, in-game adjustments everyday, just changing your approach and stuff, my freshman year I struck out a lot, that was one thing I tried to work on and every year I progressed and this year I didn’t strikeout much at all, so just little things like that you have to change and make adjustments on.
Q: Growing up, who was your favorite player?
A: My favorite player was Derek Jeter because I was a shortstop growing up, I just loved watching him play, he’s a great player, a great role model, I used to read all of the books about him so I’d say he’s my favorite player.
Q: Who would you say was your biggest influence was growing up?
A: My grandparents for sure, they came from Cuba, they came over here with nothing, they were able to get jobs and provide for my dad and his sister so, sent them to college, they came over here and learned english and everything, just kind of shows you that you have to work for everything and don’t take everything for granted.
Q: Does anyone in your family have a baseball background?
A: My dad and grandpa played when they were younger but my dad used to throw me baseballs and let me hit in the living room and stuff when I was two years old and I just grew up loving it.”
Q: What big leaguer would you say you’ve tried to model your game after?
A: Probably either Dustin Pedroia or Jose Altuve, just because of their size and what they had to go through and everything so I those are the guys I’ve tried to model my game after.