Wotherspoon Becoming A 'Sleeper'

CHARLESTON, SC - Matt Wotherspoon turned some heads in the Staten Island bullpen last year in his debut season, so much so that he was perceived by many as a potential 'sleeper' prospect. The former University of Pittsburgh product has transitioned to the starting rotation this year, however, and has pitched well once again to the point that he's showing some long-term starting potential too.

At the end of last season, Matt Wotherspoon thought he would be a relief pitcher until the end of his baseball career. However, at the beginning of this season his coaches moved him into a starting role and he’s seemed to adjust well to the new position.

The Pennsylvania native has an ERA of 4.20 so far this season in 100.2 innings pitched over three minor league levels with 102 strikeouts to his name. As the season comes to a close, he reflects on his mini-breakout season in the Yankees farm system.

“Going from a reliever to a starter, it’s definitely more innings on me and tougher on my body, but with that being said, it’s nice to know when exactly I’ll be pitching every few days and how my body is going to respond the day after,” he said.

Noted by his colleges coaches after his 34th round selection as both durable and a grinder on the mound, it turns out the starting role has been a good spot for him. According to his coaches in Charleston he’s been able to command the fastball better and he’s able to lock up hitters at the plate.

“When he first got here to Charleston, his first outing went very well," manager Luis Dorante said. "He was down in the zone and able to defeat some hitters better now than when he struggled a little bit in the mid-season.”

Over the course of this season, Wotherspoon made a few jumps from team to team. He began the season making a few appearances for high-A Tampa prior to a few appearances with Double-A Trenton before being semi-permanently placed in low-A Charleston. In his own words though, he didn’t think it was too hard of an adjustment moving from team to team.

“I was in Extended Spring Training for a few weeks, then I was in Tampa for a few games and I also was in Trenton for a few games,” Wotherspoon said. “It wasn’t too bad. I was just trying to make my pitches and work to my strengths and abilities.”

It turns out his experience against more advanced hitters was very beneficial, a point not lost on Charleston pitching coach Tim Norton.

“It’s always good to face guys at higher levels," Norton noted. "They have a different and maybe better approach at the plate. It can only help you in better competition.

"He was ready to go up there to Trenton. I don’t think he was ever really over-matched there, so he did a good job. You can put him anywhere, either out of the bullpen or at the start, and he’s going to do a fine job.”

That kind of role flexibility is a major strength and many seem to think that he’s one of the Yankees' “sleeper” candidates for the upcoming seasons, and that he’s one to watch going forward.

“He’s got the demeanor and the poise. He needs to develop all of his pitches more, as any pitcher does, but he’s going to be very good one day,” Dorante concluded.

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