The Cardinal’s In

By JOE McFARLAND

“The sky is the limit” is a common refrain used when describing the trajection of Maddux Mateychuk.

It has only been over the last couple of years that the 17-year-old Dominion City, Manitoba native ditched his hockey skates to focus solely on the baseball diamonds. He moved to Alberta to be part of the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball and it has paid off in a big way.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound righthander has turned many heads with appearances at the Tournament-12 (T12) in Toronto and a selection to Baseball Canada’s Junior National Team.

In mid-April, Mateychuk took another step in his baseball journey by signing his Letter of Intent with the Mineral Area College Cardinals in Missouri.

“We are really excited about what the future has in store for Maddux,” Vauxhall coach Les McTavish said. “He is a big, strong, hard-throwing righthander that is learning the feel on the mound.”

Heralded for hitting 93 miles-per-hour on the radar gun, many hope this is just the beginning for Mateychuk.

“Maddux has come a long way in the last year and continues to improve every day,” McTavish concluded. “Maddux will certainly be missed around here.”

Here is our full Q&A featuring Mateychuk in a recent episode of Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast.

Q: What led up to the decision to sign your Letter of Intent with Mineral Area?

A: Yeah, it was a long process going through it, overall. But they were the ones who were there the whole time. Obviously, Missouri’s a nice place and I’m definitely excited to get started there.

Q: What stood out for you there?

A: Well, one of my good friends, Dayton Peters, is going there and he had nothing but good things to say. Good pitching coach there and, overall, it sounded like a great place. I’m excited to get started.

Q: What kinds of things are you looking forward to the most once you get down there?

A: They have a lot of good technology, like using Rapsoto often. Missouri’s obviously a nice place and hopefully I’ll see some St. Louis (Cardinals) games.

Q: How excited were you to actually put pen to paper on that Letter of Intent?

A: It was a very exciting time. It was a long process and there were a lot of decision to make. Once it was done, I think I made the right decision and I’m excited.

Q: Did you have other schools knocking on the door?

A: Yeah, I had a lot of offers going around. Eventually, I just broke it down and I thought they were the best place at the end of the day.

Q: I know every player has a different experience in signing. What was it like from your perspective?

A: I would say that if you’re making your decision, don’t rush into it. Make sure it’s the exact place you want. I waited a long time while a lot of guys were committing and I didn’t get worried about it. I kind of just stood my ground and waited until it felt right. Then once it comes along and feels right, you’re good to sign. Yeah, it’s an exciting time.

Q: Let’s go back now and what got you into baseball in the first place?

A: My dad went to college for baseball and he always said how much he loved it. Then I think just playing catch at a young age, I never really got sick of it. It was always just my happy place, I guess you could say.

Q: Was it always baseball or did you have other sports you played?

A: I played Triple-A hockey up until grade 11 when I left to go to Vauxhall. So yeah, hockey was a big part of my life, too.

Q: What made you decide baseball over hockey?

A: Well, my dad always said he thought I had more potential in baseball than hockey. I guess I decided that if I went to Vauxhall I’d see how it would goes. The improvement came along and that was when I knew baseball was the right decision.

Q: Talk about that decision to head to Vauxhall, especially being that you’re from Manitoba and it’s not somewhere close to home.

A: Yeah, there were a lot of different things. The main decision was actually to stop playing hockey as I was doing really well in my last year in Grade 10 when I was playing. I had the decision to either keep playing hockey or make the commitment to Vauxhall. I talked to Coach McTavish and he made it sound like a great place and a place where development was the main thing. My whole family agreed that it sounded like a great spot so we made that decision and definitely don’t regret it.

Q: How was that experience once you came to Alberta?

A: Oh, it’s been unreal. Going to Vegas and winning that tournament down there. Then the coaches and just how much they care about you and how much they want you to succeed, it’s crazy. Overall, it’s just an unreal place to be.

Q: You’ve had the fortune to play with some pretty good teammates in that program as well. Any of them stand out to you?

A: I have to go with Adam Macko. His work ethic was insane. Just how he came to work every day was really fun to watch.

Q: When we’ve chatted with Adam in the past, he didn’t say his goal was to turn pro or get to the big leagues. He wants to get to the Hall of Fame. What’s it like being in the same room as a guy like that?

A: Yeah, the difference in his mindset compared to most others is crazy. He wants to be the best all the time and he will outwork anyone who challenges him.

Q: What did you take away from that bond and being on the same staff as guy like that?

A: I got lots out of it. I’d say I was one of the weaker pitchers there and he was always right by my side, helping me along. I think him helping me made me want to be as good as him and have the same goals and just keep working how he does. It’s gotten me into a good spot.

Q: What did that experience in Vauxhall teach you, in general?

A: Definitely to be a better person. Make sure it’s not just baseball, it’s also what people think of you, how you treat other people. Our motto there is “better person, better player” and I think that’s a big one.

Q: Talk about the last couple of months from a young player’s perspective. You get all primed up for the spring to play baseball and then everything screeches to a halt like it did. What’s that been like?

A: Yeah, it’s been crazy. We were just getting into our season in Vauxhall and then all of sudden, we get sent home. It’s definitely affected a lot of different things. The gyms are closed so you can’t get in the weight room as often. I guess you can find ways to make it work, but it’s not the same. Baseball-wise, you’re not facing live players. It’s a lot different development-wise. You can still make it happen, it’s just a lot harder to do.

Q: What are you doing to keep yourself in shape?

A: Well, I have a little mini-gym in my house and try to make it work. Get as much in as I can possible and I think I’m going at a good rate now but it’s definitely harder.

Q: How excited are you for all the health authorities and government bodies give us the green light and you’re able to play the game again?

A: Oh yeah, it will definitely be an exciting time to face some live hitters again and see all my teammates again. Yeah, just to get back on the field would be great.

Q: Like I ask everyone to wrap up our conversations, what does the game of baseball mean to you?

A: It means everything to me. I don’t know what kind of person I would be without it. It’s probably the biggest part of my life right now. It keeps my mindset right, makes me want to work hard and do great things.

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