Cardinals' third baseman Matt Dryer has been through a lot in his relatively short baseball life. Since the end of high school, Dryer has been drafted by the same team twice, played for two organizations, been released, and played independent ball. While many facing his situation would have hung up their spikes for good, Dryer's perseverance has paid off. The result, a team-leading six home runs and 21 RBI through Sunday's game against Fort Myers.
Considering all his early season success, if would have been a shame had Dryer decided to pursue something other than baseball. Had it not been for an injury, that may have been the case.
"I was always better at football," recalls Dryer. "When I was 14, got hurt. I started to get good at baseball. When I was 16, I gave up football for good, and really started to concentrate on baseball. After my freshman year, my coach pulled me aside and said, ‘I think you could get a scholarship for college baseball and maybe even get drafted.' After he told me that, that's when I started working out all winter and getting hitting instructors."
Dryer's winter workouts garnered him First Team All-State honors, as he hit .450 his senior year of high school. The San Francisco Giants liked what they saw and drafted him in the 35th round, but Dryer opted to go to college. His eyes were set on the University of Miami, but he first attended Indian River Community College in Ft. Pierce, FL for two years, where coaches moved him to third base.
It was at Miami where he met Bobby Hill, a player who would later have an influence on Dryer.
After two years with the Hurricanes, the Giants again drafted Dryer, and this time he signed. After spending 2002 in the Northwest League, Dryer was invited to spring training in 2003. Then, in a development that surprised him and his teammates, the Giants released Dryer on the final day of spring training.
Not knowing where to turn, Dryer took some advice from his former Miami teammate, Bobby Hill, who was at the time playing for the Newark Bears in the independent Atlantic League. Hill said that Dryer should consider the Atlantic League, and the move paid off. Dryer was signed by the Somerset Patriots, where he played 103 games and resurrected his career.
The Cardinals purchased his contract from the Patriots in February of 2004. That year with Peoria in the Midwest League, Dryer batted a solid .294 with seven home runs and 51 RBI. With the start that he is off to this year, Palm Beach fans ought to look for those totals to be surpassed.
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