Cardinals Draftee Interview: Matt Williams

Before his first professional game, St. Louis Cardinals 15th-round draft pick Matt Williams spoke with Senior Minor League Writer Dustin Mattison.

In the 15th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the St. Louis Cardinals chose Matt  Williams from Liberty University. The shortstop is known for his defense but has shown good pop at the plate as well.

Coming off a spring season in which he hit .336/.405/.549, the six-footer was assigned to Johnson City of the Appalachian League. In 226 at-bats for Liberty this spring, he collected 17 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs. He was 16 for 20 in stolen bases and posted a .938 fielding percentage.

In 2010, he posted a .360 batting average with 30 RBI's and 52 runs scored. Williams lists Franklin, TN as his hometown, which is only five hours from Johnson City.

While waiting to play his first professional game, Williams took a few minutes to answer some questions.

Dustin Mattison: Tell me about how you learned you were drafted.

Matt Williams: I had gotten calls from a couple different teams around the 10th and 11th round and neither team had taken me by the 15th round so when the Cardinals called in the 15th round, I was trying not to get my hopes up. My family and I were watching the draft on the internet and we saw my name pop up on the screen. It was a pretty awesome feeling.

DM: Were the Cardinals the team you expected to pick you? What other teams had you heard from?

MW: I had heard from about 20 or 25 teams but I thought it was going to be the Padres, Pirates, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Braves, or Twins. I really did not think the Cardinals were even in the mix until I received a call in the 15th round asking if I would sign in that round.

DM: What did you know about the Cardinals organization before being drafted?

MW: There is a lot of history with the Cardinals organization. I wish I was old enough to have been able to watch Ozzie Smith because when I see highlights of him I know I would have really enjoyed watching him play.

DM: Give me a scouting report on yourself.

MW: I would consider myself to be more of a defensive shortstop, with decent power for my size.

DM: How did you end up at Liberty?

MW: Coach Schnabel, who is now the infield and hitting coach at East Carolina, coached at Liberty for a couple years and saw me play in East Cobb near Atlanta, GA. The head coach, Jim Toman, was down there at that tournament and watched me play as well and they gave me a call later that summer and said they wanted me to come and visit the school. My parents and I drove up there and loved it. I was fortunate enough to start every game my freshman year and learn from coaches like Jim Toman, Nick Schnabel, and Jason Murray.

DM: How exciting was it to find out your college teammate, Casey Rasmus, was also picked by the Cardinals?

MW: It was kind of funny because the day I got drafted, our area scout called to congratulate me and told me that they were planning on taking Casey Rasmus the next day. I had been talking to Casey some during that day but obviously had to keep it a secret that he was getting drafted the next day. It was a very exciting time for both of us.

DM: How are you enjoying Johnson City?

MW: Johnson City is great. It is much closer to home than I have been throughout college and it's nice to play in my home state.

DM: What team did you root for growing up? Was there a certain player you tried to pattern your game after?

MW: I was a Red Sox fan growing up basically because of Nomar Garciaparra. I really enjoyed watching him play. They recently brought up Dustin Pedroia, who is my new favorite player to watch.

DM: If you were not playing baseball, what would you be doing?

MW: If I was not playing baseball, I would still be in college for another year. After I graduate later on down the road, I would like to be a college baseball coach.

I thank Matt for his time and wish him the best of luck in the future.

Dustin can be contacted at Follow Dustin on Twitter.

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