Last week, our own Zak Knox took an in-depth look at Toronto Blue Jays prospect Matt Boyd and his incredible start to the 2014 season. A 6th round selection in the 2013 draft, the former Oregon State star is pitching in his first full season in the organization and truth be told, he couldn’t have asked for any better results. With a 3-0 record, a 0.39 ERA, and a 5.0 K/BB ratio, Boyd has jumped out and inserted himself as a prospect on the rise on a stacked Dunedin Blue Jays team.
As a follow-up to Zak’s piece, and in an attempt to help Blue Jays fans to get to know a little bit more about Matt Boyd, I reached out to the young lefty and he agreed to answer a few questions from the entire Jays Journal staff. As an interview, I found Matt to be very personable, easy to talk to, and more than willing to share his experiences as a ballplayer and a person. Despite how the questions are shown below, the entirety of our discussion felt more like two guys sitting around and having a conversation about the game more than a simply Q&A session. He was incredibly accommodating and coming from the entire Jays Journal team, we were very appreciative to him for taking the time to talk with us.
JJ – After making a few starts in Dunedin late last season, you’ve returned to the team to start 2014 and, you’ve been light’s out thus far this season (3-0, 0.39, 5.0 K/BB ratio). To what do you attribute your early season success?
MB – Above and beyond, my teammates behind me are very solid. They are consistently making plays behind me, and have gotten me out of jams when I’ve needed them to. Also, having Derrick Chung behind the plate has been huge. Derrick calls a great game and is a great receiver to throw to. He knows the game well and has been a huge help.
JJ – Likewise, the D-Jays are off and running as well, and there are some solid bats behind you. What’s it like playing with those hitters supporting you and which do you enjoy watching play on a daily basis?
MB – 1-9 we’re very solid at the plate. They do all the small things well and get clutch hits when needed. It’s good to have that type of support behind you and it is fantastic to know that you can get the production from anywhere in the line-up on a nightly basis. It makes my job easier on the mound. I take pride in pitching the same game, regardless of score, whether it is 10-0 or 1-0.
JJ – Speaking of the D-Jays, how do you view the impressive collection of arms in the rotation? Does it help motivate you when you see a guy like Daniel Norris doing what he’s doing alongside you?
MB – We push each other to get better and we have a friendly, healthy competition among the starters both on the mound, in side sessions, and in the weight room. Daniel, Taylor Cole, Jesse Hernandez, Ben White, and the guys all attack in different ways and it’s great. We get to pick up little things from one another and build into better pitchers that way. We feed off of each other and so far that has put together a solid winning formula for us.
JJ – I understand that you’ve put on some serious muscle in the offseason. What is your work-out schedule like and what differences have you noticed from the increased work-outs?
MB – When I went back to OSU to finish my degree, I also had time to hit the weights without having to worry about baseball, just getting my body in shape and working on my core. I feel strong, my endurance has improved and the goal was to help me last through the whole season. So I’ve noticed the difference it has helped with having to pitch every five days from having to pitch every 7 days in college. I also think the things I learned in those workouts will help me with my endurance through my first professional season, which is also a decidedly longer year as well.
JJ – In Bob Elliot’s piece on you, you mention John Olerud as a role model growing up as a first baseman. Now that you are pitching full time, I’ve seen comparisons to Mark Buehrle. Is that appropriate? If not, who do you feel you more closely resemble?
MB – To be compared to any big leaguer is flattering and Mark Buehrle, with his character, consistency, and longevity is a great guy to aspire to be. To be compared to him is an honor. I love what Clayton Kershaw and how he attacks hitters and owns the mound. Growing up in Seattle, Randy Johnson was the guy, his attitude, his demeanor. He commanded the game when he was on the mound and I certainly respect that of him. That said, I don’t really have a particular pitcher I see in my game.I try to craft my game after the things I see that work for others and grow from there.
JJ – Along that same vein, what do you feel is the most accurate conception of you by scouts? The biggest misconception?
MB – I haven’t really read a lot of what scouts say about me. I had a lot of great coaches growing up that I learned a lot from and I think that has benefited me a lot, especially in learning the little things about the game. I just like to go out there and compete and go after everyone with a full heart. I love the game and I never feel like I am out of a fight. I’m a competitor and the competition fuels me to push further.
JJ – When you need to dig down and throw one pitch to get yourself out of a tight spot, what part of the well do you dip into?
MB – I feel like I can use any of my pitches, I have confidence in all four of them. That said, it varies on the situation, the hitter, the scouting report, etc. I was always taught that you have to be confident in your stuff, your entire arsenal. I’m a firm believer that the pitch you commit yourself to is 100% the right pitch to go to. If you believe in it, you’ll get what you want out of it.
JJ – What’s the one part of your game you feel is the key improvement that will help you push forward?
MB – Doing the work to get myself into a good routine and sticking to it is the most important thing right now.
Recovery is essential to being consistent and as a young pitcher, developing that routine will help me recover better between starts and keep me strong throughout the season. Taking care of my body and working off of that will help me be the best I can throughout the entire season. That also includes preparing for other teams and learning from previous outings. Those will be what separate me from success throughout the rest of the season and likely throughout my career.
JJ – I see on your blog that you make it a point to try and conduct instruction for aspiring ballplayers in the offseason. How important is it to give back to the community and to help bring along the next batch of ballplayers?
MB – It is tremendously huge. When I was at OSU, I was fortunate to be able to run camps and coach. It is fun being able to teach what has brought me success and help show the, how to be successful. It’s great to see it click with a young kid, when what you’ve shown them not only helps them get better, but puts a smile on a their face. That’s rewarding in its own right, and I love being a part of it. I was blessed to have great coaches along the way, so being able to give that back and pay it forward is huge for me.
JJ – Also about the blog, I think it is a brilliant way to keep in touch with fans and give them a bit of an= inside look into the life involved with “living the dream”. I’ve also heard that you once kept a video blog while at Oregon State. Do you see yourself continuing that endeavor and pursuing that on the side?
MB – I plan to carry a blog throughout the season and show what my life is like at a professional player. I was a New Media Studies major at Oregon State, and I can definitely see pursuing a career in broadcast journalism when my playing career is over. I enjoy writing and think it is a great outlet to talk about the game. As for the video blog, that may not come back around. It was fun while I was at OSU, but it might not fit into things right now.
Thank you again Matt for taking the time to let some Blue Jays fans get to know you a little better. Best of luck in your start against Clearwater tonight!