"Something just clicked," Sartor told Hugh Bernreuter of the Saginaw News. "I can't explain it. Maybe it was other coaches telling me something in a different way that I was able to understand. I don't think I'm doing anything different, but it's working now."
The big kid was not drafted and no one was interested in signing him as a free agent after pitching for the University of Texas-Arlington. Perhaps that is not surprising. He was 0-0 with a 7.13 earned run average in 2006, then 0-0 with an 8.80 earned run average in 2007.
His father called him to say there was going to be a tryout for an independent league team and Sartor dropped by it give it a go. The Lewisville (Texas) Lizards of the Continental Baseball League like what they saw and signed him to his first professional contract.
Just a month into the season his manager, Tom Goodwin, a former Dodger outfielder and a 14-year Major League veteran, probably gave his old club a call. Calvin Jones, the area supervisor for the Dodgers' scouting department, also liked what he saw and signed him on July 21, 2007, to a minor league contract.
Sartor is the first player in Continental Baseball League history to sign a contract with an affiliated minor league team.
With his college experience, he was sent to Ogden and pitched in 10 games before the season ended, earning two saves and striking out 25 in 18.1 innings while walking only five while limiting hitters to a .161 batting average.
He earned a promotion in 2008 to Great Lakes and he continued to improve. He appeared in 25 games, all in relief, and posted a 3.88 earned run average, won four of six decisions and saved four more. He struck out 66 in 57/2 innings while walking 17, limiting opposing batters to a .215 average.
"He was been tremendous for us," Great Lakes manager Juan Bustabad said. "He's a bulldog. He throws strikes and comes right at hitters."
But Bustabad didn't get to keep him all that long. He was promoted to Inland Empire in the California League and lowered his ERA to 2.15 over 20 appearances. He struck out 40 in 37.2 innings with the 66ers and his control became even sharper, walking only seven batters.
In the final game of the season, a playoff contest with Rancho Cucamonga to break the tie for the South Division Wild Card spot. With the game tied 6-6 in the ninth inning, Sartor took over and shut out the Quakes on five hits over the last four innings, striking out six, and earning the win in the last of the 13th.
Sartor was mildly surprised by how quickly the whole thing turned. "If I didn't take the chance, I'd probably have a degree (kinesiology) and be coaching a high school team somewhere in Texas," Sartor said. "I'm glad I gave it one last shot."
So are the Dodgers. Sartor could start the season again at Inland Empire or moved up to Double-A Chattanooga, depending on spring training results.
Matt Sartor year team w-l era gm gs sv in h bb so whip 2007 Ogden 0-1 3.44 10 0 2 18 10 5 25 0.82 2008 GLks 4-2 3.83 25 0 4 52 41 17 66 1.12 IEmp 4-3 2.15 20 0 1 38 37 7 40 1.17 Totals 8-6 3.19 55 0 7 108 88 29 131 1.09