One Bad Outing Hasn't Ruined Linder's Season

Many Canadian high school players don't catch the eye of scouts. One who did was Matt Linder and it was the Phillies who caught on to him pretty early on and stayed with him until they drafted him in the 8th round of the 2003 Draft. Now, he's in the Gulf Coast League and looking to move up the ranks.

For Matt Linder, Clearwater, Florida is a long way from home in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The 20 year old right-hander is used to life in the middle of Canada, but is starting to adjust to things in the ranks of professional baseball. "There are lots of differences. The quality of the play is 100 times better here," said Linder, comparing baseball at home to baseball in the states. Linder, who was drafted by the Phillies in 2003, played his first professional season last year as a member of the Gulf Coast League Phillies. "I'm used to playing in 70 degree weather and today it was 95 degrees; it does get to you," admitted Linder. "It's a little better, since this is my second season."

Overall, Linder is happy with his progress. Last season, he went 1-1, 4.43 in 15 games with the GCL Phillies. This season, Linder was 2-0, 2.08 until a disastrous relief outing on Tuesday, when he was hit for eight earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning. That turned his impressive ERA into a rough looking 9.64 mark. "I was doing pretty well, except for the rough outing today (Tuesday)," commented Linder.

Looking down the road, Linder hopes to remain with the Phillies organization and hopes to see the major leagues before too long. His five year plan has him knocking on the door of Philadelphia. "I'll hopefully be with the Phillies and scraping at the major league level, but it all depends on how I progress," said Linder.

Linder came to the Phillies right out of high school and has been seen as somewhat of a project, even though he was drafted in the 8th round. Because the Canadian high school ranks aren't seen as being a great showcase for talent, Linder took part in some showcase events in the U.S. before being drafted. Some scouts thought he tried to show too much and changed his mechanics in favor of gaining some velocity. The Phillies have smoothed out Linder's delivery and his velocity is now inching up from the high 80s mark that he showed as a high schooler.

It wouldn't be surprising for Linder to see the tiny hamlet of Batavia, New York with a promotion before the end of the summer. It also wouldn't be surprising for the Phillies to move Linder into a starting job next season to get some solid innings on his arm. Many scouts believe that he could be a capable closer down the road, but will need to gain experience and he may be best able to do that by moving into a starting rotation at some point. For now, Linder is staying in the bullpen of the GCL Phillies, but could be on the road before too long.

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