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Matt Canterino: Rice’s Friday Night Special

Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I live down the street from Reckling Park in Houston, Rice’s ballpark. As a result, early in the college baseball season, when the weather is not yet blazing and Houston Astros season hasn’t begun (I am a sporadic writer for the Crawfish Boxes), I go to my fair share of Rice games. Cheap, a very beautiful park, and a lot of room for my toddler to run around if he wants.

I first saw Matt Canterino in the 2018 season. I don’t recall the opponent. It was a Friday night, and there were a few more people at the game than there usually are. A lot of them were congregating behind home plate, standing in the walkway landing between the lower seats and higher seats. They were there to watch Matt.

Batters could not hit anything he was throwing. He had 8 strikeouts by the end of the 3rd inning, and there were a lot of swing and misses. He was ahead in the count time after time. His fastball clocked in at 93 according the scoreboard, but it seemed a lot faster. Maybe it was just in juxtaposition to the opposing pitcher.

I am not a scout, nor anything close to that, but in that game I thought. "This kid needs to get drafted. He’s insane."

After that, I always tried to make it to Friday night Rice home games, because those were Canterino starts. There were always a lot of strikeouts. Every inning it seemed like he was flirting with striking out the side. He could still get hit, but he would always keep the score low, 0 or 1 runs. He would go, at minimum, 6 or 7 innings deep into games, before his bullpen would blow it leaving with him a lot fewer wins than he ought to have gotten.

Now, taken in the second round of the 2019 MLB draft, he is a Minnesota Twin, and well-deserved. Again, I am not a scout, so analyses of his arsenal or mechanics are better off found elsewhere. But I have enjoyed watching Matt make batters swing and miss the last two years, and I hope Twins fans will experience that joy too.

Just not against the Astros.