Olson is Better Than His Numbers

When you look at stats from the Gulf Coast League, you have to keep in mind that they can be out of whack because of the relatively few numbers of games that they've played. Plus, you have to keep in mind that many of these players are fresh out of high school; such is the case with Matt Olson, a 13th round pick from this past June's draft.

Up until his last outing last week, Matt Olson had been pitching well for the Gulf Coast League Phillies. The one thing that has been an issue for him - getting the final out of an inning - came back to haunt him when he gave up a two out three-run homerun. "I've been pitching okay, but I always seem to give up a hit or a run with two outs," explained Olson.

The Phillies took Olson out of Western Branch High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. At just 18 years old, there is obviously a lot of learning and developing for Olson to do. Even simple things like being away from the family are tough. "I miss my family and my girlfriend. She just visited, but it seems like she has been gone for ten years," lamented Olson. Long bus trips are also a tough part of Olson's new life. "I don't like pitching on the road; especially in Orlando," said Olson. "I nap on the bus, because it's a two hour trip and then I've got to play the game." Instead, Olson prefers pitching in Clearwater. "I like it here (Clearwater). I could use some more run support though," said Olson.

There is no doubt that this is a different world for Olson. He's dealt without having the home cooking that he loves; "I've even gained five pounds," admits Olson. In high school, Olson often played third base when he wasn't pitching, so he got to hit, which he misses. "I could hit some bombs," remembers Olson. Now, he worries what the folks at home think when they see his record. "I'm not used to the people at home following my stats and not doing as well as when I dominated in high school." Olson hasn't been dominating, but his record 1-3, 4.05 in five starts isn't anything that the Phillies are concerned about.

For now, the Phillies are just working on getting some innings out of Olson, while trying to find ways to reduce the stress on his arm. "They have me throwing out of the stretch, to reduce stress. I pitch a lot more, so I've been a little sore," reports Olson. He is quick to point out that the soreness is just from pitching a lot and not from any injury. "Actually, they think the movement will help prevent injuries," reports Olson. Because Olson threw a lot of innings in high school and is likely to finish the GCL season with somewhere around 65 or 70 innings, the Phillies won't send him to any fall instructional camps. Instead, he'll take the winter off from baseball. "I will be working for my brother; he is in contruction and I enjoy working with him. I also want to get in some college classes." Then, Olson will report back to the Phillies next spring and stick in extended camp until the short-season leagues begin.

The Phillies realize that Olson may be a bit of a project. They will be patient with him and allow him time to progress at his own pace. Olson is confident of his abilities and has shown good signs even early in his professional career. Still, Olson is young and the trappings of youth will likely be one of the toughest things for him to conquer.

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