West Linn's Will Matthiessen prepares, waits to continue pro career
The 2020 season may not be over for West Linn High School graduate Will Matthiessen.
Matthiessen, a 2016 graduate of West Linn High School, saw his first season as a professional baseball player put on hold because of the response to the novel coronavirus — but it ain't over yet.
Matthiessen, 22, had just graduated from Stanford University and started spring training with the Pittsburgh Pirates when the nationwide response to the coronavirus put everything on hold.
"We were about three weeks into our camp when we received a message from our organization letting us know that the commissioner had canceled spring training and everyone was going to be sent home," Matthiessen said. "Obviously, this was pretty hard news to hear given that we were going to be taking a long break from baseball. On the other hand, we all realized that this was a serious issue and the most important thing was to get home safely."
Matthiessen first gained notoriety during his star-studded high school career at West Linn, finishing his senior season as a first-team all-Three Rivers League and first-team all-state pick in 2016.
He proved himself at the next level, too, stepping up as both a pitcher and designated hitter at Stanford. In his final year with the Cardinal in 2019, the junior was named a third-team All-American utility player by the American Baseball Coaches Association after leading the Cardinal in batting average (.310), hits (67), RBIs (52) and on-base percentage (.389), while slugging .532 with 12 home runs. On the mound, Matthiessen finished 6-2 with a 3.83 earned-run average with 56 strikeouts and 19 walks in 54.0 innings pitched across 16 appearances, including eight starts.
Pro Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Year in School: 2020 Stanford graduate
Major: Management Science & Engineering
He also garnered Perfect Game All-America, All-Pac-12, Pac-12 All-Academic and Stanford Regional All-Tournament team honors, and was a finalist for the John Olerud award as the nation's best two-way player.
Following his junior year, Matthiessen was selected in the sixth round of the Major League Baseball draft (he was the 184th overall pick) by Pittsburgh and began his pro career as a member of the West Virginia Black Bears in the Class A Short Season New York-Penn League.
There, he batted .220 with 21 runs scored and 19 RBIs in 45 games, including five doubles, one triple and four home runs.
He came back to Stanford to finish his education in 2019-20, graduating with a degree in management science and engineering, then turned his attention spring training and the next step in pro career.
"My situation is a little different than the college athletes because there is still a possibility that my season will still occur, just later than expected," Matthiessen said, adding that the Pirates will likely assign him to the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Pittsburgh's low A team in the South Atlantic League. "Assuming the season does happen, that is where I most likely will begin."
For now, however, Matthiessen and all his future teammates are doing the same thing, sheltering in place, working out at their homes and trying to stay sharp for the moment that baseball comes back.
"The season has been pushed back even further than what we initially were told," he said. "At this point, I am still unsure when the season will start, but what we do know is that there will be a short 'spring training' that will occur before the season starts in order to make sure that everyone is ready to play before jumping straight into games."
As tough as it is to wait — and here at the start of his professional career, it's been really, really hard for Matthiessen to wait — he knows it's the right thing to do, at least for now.
"I am eager and ready to get out and play some baseball when the time comes, but the most important thing right now is to stay home and let this virus pass," Matthiessen said. "All of us minor leaguers understand the severity of the situation and totally understand that these precautions must be taken."
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