Blue Jays Prospects: Matt Boyd finding comfort in New Hampshire
They say that adversity is the key to finding success. For Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Matt Boyd, he’s taken that mantra to a whole new level.
The trip from Dunedin, Florida to Manchester, New Hampshire is a 1400 mile journey that brings with it a lot of change for a young ballplayer. While it looks like one step in the ladder in the organizational climb, the jump from the Florida State League (High-A) to the Eastern League (Double-A) can be a big step. Even the best of players are bound to find a bump in the road along the way. When Matt Boyd first made the trip, he was dominating at Dunedin, owning a 4-0 record, a 0.29 ERA, and a 10.74 K/9 ratio for the D-Jays. He was outclassing Florida State League hitters and needed a new challenge.
He found it in New Hampshire.
Matt would stick with the Fisher Cats through all of May, but found himself back in Dunedin after allowing 30 earned runs in 20.2 innings of work in New Hampshire. He would return to New Hampshire again in July, but found similar results and finished the season back in Dunedin. Two locations and a tale of two pitchers.
His splits between the two levels show a much different pitcher at both levels, but somewhere in the middle, there was something to be found and cultivated, a seed that would grow into a much cleaner finished product. Matt Boyd took the successes and the stumbles of 2014 and used them to find the perfect formula for success in 2015.
"“Last year was the most I learned in a season, period. I’ve never had my face shoved in the dirt like I did up here, and you don’t want to call it failure because I learned from it. You can’t change the game and I don’t need to change the game. My ability got me here, you’ve got to tweak stuff, fine tune certain parts of your game, but in the grand scheme of things, still have to throw the ball 60ft 6in and trust in my ability.”"
For Boyd, that formula didn’t need to be changed drastically; it needed to be trusted. So he went into the offseason, had a minor procedure on his elbow to remove a bone chip that he never knew was there and went about his business of getting ready for the season, both mentally and physically. With his elbow fully healthy and a winter of the weighted ball program, Matt Boyd came into the 2015 season with the mindset that he had the abilities to succeed at any level of the game, and he was going to show it.
"“I made my mistakes here last year, some of them were self-inficted while other ones guys just put a hurting on me. I just kind of grew from that and going forward, I feel that helped prepare me for what i need to work on, regardless of the level. “"
That formula has worked well for Boyd in 2015. The left-hander has been a completely different presence on the mound this season, dominating Eastern League hitters to the tune of a .162 batting average against. That’s helped Boyd put together a 5-1 record, a 1.08 ERA, and a 4.3 K/BB ratio over 66.2 innings in 2015. Perhaps most impressive of all is his endurance. Boyd has thrown seven innings or more in each of this last four starts, including a remarkable 8.1 innings of shut-out ball on three hits, one walk, and six strike-outs against Bowie on Wednesday night. It is those long outings that Matt Boyd prides himself on the most.
"“I want to be a guy that is going to be going deep in the game every night, April through October. I’ve been that guy at every level I’ve been at and that’s what I want to do here.”"
And it is those type of performances, and the overall body of work, that Matt Boyd is building that will be putting him quickly on the radar in Toronto. With the Blue Jays aggressively promoting pitchers in the last two seasons, heads will quickly be turning toward New Hampshire and perhaps there is a spot in Buffalo with Matt Boyd’s name on it in the near future. For now, he’s focused on controlling what he can and that’s taking the ball every fifth day for the Fisher Cats.
"I’m focused on today. Things in terms of movement are out of my control. It’s always been my goal and I want to do it for a long time, but it’s out of my control. For now, I’m grateful to wear this uniform every single day and pitch in the Eastern League and play for the Fisher Cats, taking every opportunity the Blue Jays have given me to play pro ball. I’ll just keep attacking every single day and if that happens to be in uniform that is royal blue and north of the border then it will be a dream come true and that’s not where the dream ends. I’m going to keep going after that. For now, I keep playing for an audience of one and glorify him and go out there and get better every single day."
It’s that focus that has him dominating the Eastern League in 2015 and it’s that focus that will separate Matt Boyd from the pack in the future. And we’d love to see that future hold a royal blue jersey.