|Matt Vierling, image- Jay Floyd|
A 5th round draft selection this year by the Phillies out of Notre Dame, Vierling posted a .420/.453/.580 slash line in 12 games with short-season Class A Williamsport prior to joining the BlueClaws.
Earlier this month, I talked with Vierling, a Missouri native, about his transition from college ball to the minors, heading the the fall instructional league, experiencing New Jersey for the first time and plenty more. Read ahead for that full interview.
-What experiences did you have prior to the draft that prepared you for pro baseball?
Well, going through college at Notre Dame, there's a lot of things in college with the academics and everything and the baseball, playing in a tough conference in the ACC, and, you know, the school part taught me how to manage my time, but baseball wise I developed in college and learned a lot of valuable lessons there and met a lot of special people. I continue to talk with a lot of people from Notre Dame, some people that I'm close with that have been in pro ball, about how they went about their first seasons and what was best for them, what worked for them and I've kind of done what they did, as far as mental game stuff and just go about every day and it has really helped me a lot this first season, so it's been going pretty well so far.
-The guys you're able to keep in touch with, are those guys closer to your class or are there guys that are long removed from Notre Dame that are still available to learn from?
It does go back further. Obviously, I still talk with some of my best friends in my class but there are some people there that have played pro ball before and they've been through it and those are the best people to talk to. You can learn about what they would have done differently, or what lessons they learned and maybe I can use some of those and put it into my business here. There are just certain things they did at the beginning of their pro careers that have helped me here.
-Well, what is on my mind when you mention the school name is a couple guys specifically. Phillies fans would know one big Notre Dame name, Brad Lidge. And BlueClaws fans might recall a guy that went to the postseason with this team eight or nine years ago named Jeremy Barnes that is now coaching in the minors with Houston. Have you ever had a chance to talk with those guys?
I actually haven't touched base with any of those guys. Trey Mancini's one of the guys. He's with the Orioles right now. I haven't talked to him that much, but we have a couple guys that were around the baseball team a lot there. One of those guys is Steve Sollmann. He was around the team a lot. He helped me a lot with how he went about his business in his first pro year. And the stuff he implemented has helped me a lot.
As far as Brad Lidge, I know his cousin Ryan Lidge. He's with the Yankees. He's a good friend of mine. They're cousins. Other than that, there's other guys that are in pro ball that have helped me out too. It's good to have those connections there.
-Just speaking of the transition to turning professional and joining a new organization, how did the transition go for you? Was it as you expected?
You know, traveling around a bunch, right after college, it wasn't overwhelming, but it was a lot. But once I got comfortable, especially being here and I knew I was going to be here for a while just getting to know the guys-- it's just like going to play summer ball and you get to know the guys and they become your best friends for that period of time and it means even more now, going to the playoffs. And being in this organization, being around them all the time, especially for the future as well. It's definitely cool to make those relationships. It was definitely a lot at first, but getting to know the guys-- they're all awesome dudes and it's fun to be a part of.
-Is there anybody in the Phillies system that you knew or competed against before coming and signing here?
So, competing...I played against Colby Fitch and Quincy Nieporte. Quincy went to Florida State and Colby went to Louisville. They're in our division of the ACC, so we play them every year. So, I definitely competed against those guys, but I didn't know anybody coming here. I didn't know anybody in the organization personally.
-You've posted some great numbers and have been an excellent contributor toward the team. But you're still early in your career and many fans may not know you yet. So, if you were going to educate people about your game, what are some of your strengths? What would you say that you pride yourself on?
One thing I really try to do above all else is give all the effort I can possibly give every single at bat and play. Just go as hard as I can, every single pitch. But, you know, I love playing defense. I love running around the outfield. I love running around the bases. And hitting wise- a contact hitter who can hit for some power here and there and just try to do everything really well, just try to do everything the best I can and do everything I can to help the team.
-I think barring a rare exception, guys in their draft year are always lined up to go to fall instructs following the season. Is that something you're looking forward to?
Yeah, so I'm going to instructs and yeah, I'm excited about it. Hearing from all the guys here and a lot of the guys have been through it once, some of them even twice. They say that every coordinator and all the coaches will be there, which will be great to get around them and talk to them about what helped them and all their experiences. It's just going to be a good month of baseball where I can focus on developing and possibly trying to learn things that might help me. Yeah, it'll be fun. I'm looking forward it.
-What are your impressions or thoughts on New Jersey since coming here?
It's been awesome. At Notre Dame, there were a couple guys on my team that live 15 or 20 minutes from the stadium, so I've been staying with them and they've been showing me around here in New Jersey and it's beautiful. I mean the beaches are awesome and the weather as of late has been pretty nice, so I'm liking it a lot.
-Did you know much about New Jersey before coming here to play?
I really didn't. I really didn't know much other than the show Jersey Shore. I watched that, but I think for the most part I didn't know much more about New Jersey.
-Do you see a lot of those types, from the show, when you are out here?
Not many around here. I guess that's a good thing. But for the most part, yeah, I didn't really know much, but it's been cool. There people are awesome around here. The stadium is beautiful and the fans are great.
-How about the Phillies organization? Did you have much knowledge about the team before they drafted you?
I didn't know much, but one definitely I knew about was Brad Lidge, because of Ryan. But one big one was Ryan Howard. He's from St. Louis where I'm from. He went to high school out there and went to Missouri State, so I knew a lot about him. He's a legend around here and has his number retired, out in center field. I know they're an awesome organization and I'm pretty grateful to be drafted by them. I'm happy I'm where I'm at.