Matt Wotherspoon had a breakout season last year in Double-A and Triple-A, and he's continuing that so far in 2017 too.

TRENTON, NJ -- Matt Wotherspoon had one of the truly underrated seasons last year, posting a combined 2.50 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A and holding opposing batters to a paltry .203 batting average. Back in Double-A Trenton this year and putting up similar numbers in the early going so far, Wotherspoon, who isn't short on stuff, continues to be headed in the right direction.

Wotherspoon knows how hard his team is working around him and wants to pitch in his part to get them back to the Eastern League Championship series this season.

“I just wanna win and help these guys behind me,” he said. “These guys play everyday, they play hard for me out there. So when I get an opportunity to pitch in a game I want to throw up zeros.”

After having helped Trenton make their first Championship series run since 2013 last year, Wotherspoon, who had been putting up some impressive career numbers to date, was reminded of what he plays the game for.

“Last year we made the playoffs here and unfortunately we lost in the championship game, and then I was up in Scranton for the playoffs there and we ended up winning it all so I would say winning,” he said of his top goal. “That's what we are all here for, is to win and hopefully advance in the process, but winning comes first.”

Wotherspoon, originally a starting pitcher, was first selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 20th round of the 2013 June Amateur Draft but opted to go back to college for his senior season.  He was then selected by the New York Yankees in the 34th round of the 2014 June Amateur Draft.

The right-hander played Division I intercollegiate baseball at Pittsburgh, hosting a 25-13 record with a 4.26 ERA. He had 60 appearances in four seasons and started in 50 of them.

After being selected by the Yankees organization he began his minor league career in low Single-A Staten Island. He had a reliever role and appeared in 17 games, only letting up seven earned runs in 32 innings pitched.

He shifted to the starting role in 2015, beginning the season in the low-A Charleston rotation, posting a 4-3 mark and striking out 97 batters in 84.1 innings.  He was then moved up to advanced Single-A Tampa for four games and started one of them.  Shortly after he was promoted to Double-A Trenton for the first time, staying for three games, and again starting one. 

As good as he was in 2015, 2016 was a breakout season for Wotherspoon though and he reflected on his contribution.

“I think I threw the ball alright last season; consistency with all my pitches, any pitch any count, just helping the team win.”

Wotherspoon began the year in Trenton before going back and forth between the Double-A and Triple-A levels, mostly appearing in the reliever role. 

With 26 appearances with the Thunder, the right-hander had 74 strikeouts in 67.2 innings, and with ten appearances in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre he only allowed five earned runs in 22.1 innings pitched.

Trenton Manager Bobby Mitchell had praise for the Pennsylvania native in his role last season, and the impact he made.

“Last year he came out here, he was a reliever, he was dynamic. He was dominating a lot, and then he left here to go to Triple-A and he did well there [too],” he said. “Then they wanted him to work on getting more innings and working on his secondary stuff; his changeup, he did that and it was good for development.”

Mitchell also spoke on Wotherspoon, who bounced back and forth between being in the rotation and bullpen, handling the shift between roles and what he is working on mechanically to be a big-time pitcher.

 “I think his confidence went down a little bit after that because he was getting hit.  He was struggling as a starter but this year he is back. He knows his role and he has that experience in Triple-A,” he said. “He's still working his slider, his changeup and stuff. When he's on, his command is really good. He can pinpoint in and out, on both sides of the plate.”

Trenton pitching coach Jose Rosado also showed approval of Wotherspoon too and spoke on his fight through a tough season last year and his uphill battle to come back and strive as a dependable reliever.

“He did great last year," Rosado said.  "It's normal that you're gonna have some tough times but he was able to pass the page and keep going in the right direction.  This season he started here [and] so far has been good.  He's a hard worker. He wants to do good and wants to learn, it's been good to have him.”

Wotherspoon began the 2017 campaign in Trenton and has appeared in four games. He has only allowed two earned runs in 7.1 innings pitched.

The 25-year-old spoke about how having time in Triple-A last season has helped him in returning to Trenton this season.

“I think that is helping me a little bit," Wotherspoon said.  "Hitters are pretty smart up there.  A lot of them played in the big leagues.  I'm just trying to stay within myself and pitch how I pitch.”

The right handed reliever has some serious velocity, hitting the mid-90s with his fastball and his slider slices in around 85 miles per hour. 

Rosado has seen some improvements in his game this season and can see the progress of the right-hander starting to flourish.

“He's been doing a pretty good job with the fastball command to the glove side. I think that will help him to get more chase on his slider and his breaking ball,” Rosado said. “I think that's been the key so far this year, that he's been able to have quality command to the glove side. He knows what he has to do to be moved up to the next level [and] he is heading in the right direction.”

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