Charleston RiverDogs starting pitcher Matt Sauer knows his purpose in life.
“God has put me on this world to play baseball,” Sauer said.
Unfortunately for the rest of this season, Sauer will not have a chance to fulfill that purpose. He will spend the rest of 2019 recovering and rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He is slated to go under the knife this coming week.
Sauer pitched four and two-thirds innings in his last start, the Charleston RiverDogs home opener, against Greensboro on April 11. He struggled with his command that game allowing five walks and allowing two runs. On April 16, Sauer was placed on the Injured List and it was determined soon after that he would need surgery.
Sauer was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft out of Ernest Righetti High School in Santa Maria, California. Before the draft, Sauer had committed to the University of Arizona to play baseball.
“I had a good amount of schools I was looking at. I just liked the coaching staff at Arizona so I decided to commit there. Then I sat down, talked to family, prayed over it, listened to God and made the decision to sign with the Yankees,” Sauer said.
The decision was not an easy one as his parents’ value education and wanted him to get a college degree. “For a high school kid, I feel like any guy, it’d be a tough decision especially when your parents wanted you to go to school. So we sat down and talked about it, had long conversations, talked to an agent and I felt I made the best choice for myself and my family and here I am,” Sauer said.
Sauer was at home with family when he heard his name called in the draft. “An area scout called me and congratulated me. It was great to being there with family and we all got to cherish the moment.”
The reason why the Yankees were so high on Sauer is quite evident. Sauer stands at 6’4” with an athletic 195 lb build. He throws in the mid-90s with his fastball and has hit as high as 97 on the gun. He throws a biting slider along with a changeup as well.
Sauer adjusted to professional baseball quickly. “The hardest thing for me was just getting used to the routine of every single day, it’s baseball. It’s a job. That was the hardest thing to get used to, but I adjusted pretty quick,” he said.
Sauer’s approach on the mound is to attack the zone with his fastball. “I always try to establish with the fastball and compete as hard as I can every game. My mentality is I want to blow everyone away with my fastball,” he said.
One area Sauer was looking to improve on was his command, especially on his offspeed pitches. “Being able to get my offspeed [pitches] in there, if I’m behind in the count, being able to throw offspeed [pitches] for strikes. I think that would take me to the next level.”
He also has formed many friendships in the organization around his faith. “Garrett Whitlock, he’s with the Trenton Thunder, Glenn Otto, he’s with the Tarpons. I’ve been in their weddings,” Sauer said. “Having that community, having older guys that are strong in their faith really helps me stay accountable with my faith and everything, and that’s why I love those guys to death.”
Sauer’s faith will certainly help him bounce back from a disappointing end to an injury-shortened season and come back strong in 2020. “One of my biggest things, I put 100% faith in Christ.”