You know the guy. We all know the guy. The one who is always willing to do a little extra, a little more to get the job done. We all love that guy because he makes the job a little easier for everyone.
That guy also sets an example that reminds us, again and again, what is actually the proper process to get us to the desired outcome.
In baseball, it’s the guy willing to do whatever it takes to get on base, get an out on defense and make the necessary sacrifices for his teammates without concern for accolades. That guy for the Diamond Jacks Super 16U team this summer was Matty Wright, a multi-tooled, multi-dimensional nightmare for opponents.
Wright turns heads on the baseball field and among his coaches and teammates, and, despite a sophomore season of high school lost to the coronavirus pandemic, the college recruiting world, too. Wright committed in early July to play his college ball at Stony Brook University. But first, the speedy outfielder continues preparation for his junior season at Somerville High School.
“You don’t know what you have until it’s gone,” said Wright about the crushingly disappointing end to the 2020 high school baseball season before it even started. “It was unfortunate, especially for the seniors. We worked so hard in the weight room and in practice to get ready. We’re all dying to play together this spring.”
Wright was projected to start for the Pioneers in the outfield his sophomore season after getting 54 varsity at bats his freshman year and earning a starting job about a quarter of the way into the season. Wright had 20 hits and batted an impressive .363 as a high school freshman. He scored 14 runs, knocked in nine runs and ripped three doubles and a triple.
The 5-9, 183-pound lefty-hitting sparkplug had to take the frustrations from the loss of his 2020 spring season out on his summer opponents as he quickly became an important cog in the unrelenting machine that was the Diamond Jacks Super 16U squad this summer.
“Matty is a true throwback,” says Diamond Jacks Super 16U coach Steve DiTrolio. “He grinds and I don’t mean the fake grind you see on Instagram. This kid gets after it.”
Wright received a little insight on Stony Brook from fellow Diamond Jack Matt Miceli, a senior middle infielder and teammate at Somerville. Miceli had committed to the Long Island college in August of 2019.
“A heard a lot about Stony Brook from Matt and soon after that I emailed the coach and sent videos,” says Wright. “In April or May (Stony Brook assistant) coach (Jim) Martin texted Ditro and set up a phone call. I talked to coach Martin every other week leading up to the summer.”
While the NCAA has restricted official college visitations during the pandemic, Wright says he did go to the school “to take a tour myself and check it out. I loved the campus.” By early July Wright had an offer from Stony Brook and gave his verbal on July 6, just in time for the start of the summer season with the Super 16U team.
It’s not hard to understand Wright’s and Miceli’s attraction to Stony Brook. Head coach Matt Senk has built a rousing success story during his 30 seasons at the Division 1 program. Senk’s teams have 24 winnings seasons and six NCAA tournament appearances, including his 2012 Seawolves who reached the College World Series. That team defeated Miami in regional play and six-time national champion LSU in a super regional to advance to the World Series. Senk boasts an 840-569-4 (.596) career record. Stony Brook’s 2021 roster includes nine players from New Jersey.
“I know some of the guys there from playing at Diamond Nation,” says Wright. “The school is also pretty close to some family we have in the area, so that helps. I want to study physical therapy. Stony Brook has a great science program.”
With his commitment to Stony Brook behind him, Wright went about putting together a successful summer with the loaded Super 16U team, his sixth season gripping and ripping with the Diamond Jacks. Matty’s older brother, Tim, is an uncommitted senior at Somerville and plays for the Diamond Jacks Gold 17U.
“The summer went really well,” he said. “Ditro was great helping me find my rhythm at the plate and in making adjustments. It was a great summer and fall with our team. It was a lot of fun. Everyone is so good on our team. The best thing is they are all good guys who always want to get better. Everyone is willing to do the things you need to do to get better.”
Wright exhibited the depth of his versatility in a pair of at bats in a 2-1 victory over Baseball Warehouse in the Grand Slam tournament in October. He beat out two bunt singles, stole a base and scored the go-ahead run.
“Matty plays the game with a certain energy that you just don’t see often,” said DiTrolio. “He was the sparkplug of our offense. He just gets on base often. Walk, hit or bunt, he’s looking to get on for the middle of our lineup. He knows what he needs to do to be successful and what the team needs from him to be successful.”
Wright runs a 6.83 60-yard dash and is unafraid to utilize that speed to his and his team’s advantage. “I hustle every single play,” he says, “no matter the situation. Speed is a big advantage. I’m never one to slow down and love to take the extra base.” Wright uses that speed, too, to track down fly balls and cutoff shots in the gap in the outfield.
“Coach Travis (Anderson) always says I can do that (bunt) and get a hit every time,” said Wright. “It’s hard to pass up a free hit.”
Wright credits the Diamond Jack coaching staff for his development over his six years in the program, particularly DiTrolio and Anderson.
“Coach Travis teaches us the right way to play the game,” says Wright. “He says, ‘Don’t let anyone take anything from you. You should be the top guy on the field.’ Ditro says you should want to be the strongest player on the field, physically and mentally. All my coaches from 11U and up have been great. The good thing is you get a lot of different perspectives on the game.”
Wright is now in the middle of his winter training regimen, which includes plenty of work in the cages and in the weight room.
“I want to smooth out the weakness in my swing,” he says. “I want to be able to pull the ball with power. And I’m lifting every day with some Somerville guys.”
FINAL THOUGHT: Prep Baseball Report does an excellent job evaluating potential recruits around the country. PBR New Jersey filed the following report on Wright at a showcase in July: “(He) displayed speed and athleticism at the event, recording a 60-time of 6.83. Started in a tall quiet stance with a smooth small load, then used a small leg kick just before his swing. Bat speed is explosive. Shows short, simple swing plane and level finish. He barreled up multiple balls with loud contact. Gap-to-gap approach. Wright showed his power ability with an exit velocity of 93 mph. Smooth from the outfield, he showed the ability to throw at velocities up to 81 mph; shows sure hands, a fluid exchange and athletic quick feet.”