I recently kicked open Pandora’s Box and conducted my first player interview, with Myrtle Beach pitcher Matt Swarmer. Many thanks to Myrtle Beach Pelicans Broadcaster/Media Relations Manager Scott Kornberg for helping get this to reality.
Swarmer was the Cubs’ 19th-round choice in 2016 from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. Unheralded at the time, the 6-foot-5 righthanded starting pitcher is among a handful of Cubs minor-league pitchers having rather nice starts to the season. My hope, as with interviews I hope to conduct in the future, will lean a bit more toward getting to know the person, rather than the player. If you care about the person, the rest comes rather easily.
TH: You attended Kutztown University. What were some of the reasons behind your collegiate selection?
MS: I grew up in the area, and was interested in having my family attend my games.
TH: It’s always nice having fans when you pitch.
MS: It is. Also, I got along well with Head Coach Chris Blum in my visits. I had other offers, but staying near home made sense for me.
(Swarmer is from Shillington, Pennsylvania.)
TH: As my brother is an NFL fan, I know of Kutztown University from NFL Hall Of Famer Andre Reed. Is he a rock star there?
MS: They named the football stadium after him. Yeah, he’s kind of big there.
TH: Are there any other Kutztown alumni we should know of?
MS: MLB pitcher Ryan Vogelsong went there, as well. He’s probably the most known of the alumni for baseball fans.
TH: Who is a coach in the Cubs organization that is quite a bit better at his job than his lack of public awareness would indicate?
MS: One of the guys that has really been helpful has been Ron Villone. He’s been there, and knows what we need to do to get there, as well.
(Villone is the Cubs’ minor-league rehab pitching coordinator.)
TH: He was fun to watch in pitcher fielding practice.
MS: Yeah, he keeps us honest, and makes us ready for what might happen in a game.
TH: Can you walk us through August 19, 2017, when you became “more than an afterthought” for quite a few Cubs pipeline followers?
MS: I was in Fort Wayne with South Bend, and (Manager) Jimmy (Gonzalez) told me at 1:30 in the morning that I had a flight at 6 a.m. for a promotion. I thought it was a jump to Double-A, but it was Triple-A. When I landed, the team sent a car to pick me up. They told me I was starting that night.
TH: Wow. You had no idea?
MS: None. I thought I was probably filling out the bullpen for a few nights.
TH: The start went very well.
MS: I went seven scoreless innings,and could have probably gone a bit further, as my pitch count was rather low. (He had made 84 pitches.)
TH: After being sent to Tennessee for the rest of the season, you struggled for your next two starts.
MS: I tried to do things I probably shouldn’t try to do, and paid for it. This year, I’ve decided to stick to what I do best, regardless what happens.
TH: You’ve done a very good job of getting those of us who monitor the pipeline to take notice. Best of luck, and keep the hitters off balance. Have a great season.
Despite a few technical issues, and a visit in the clubhouse from the drug-testers, I learned a bit about Swarmer, and I hope you did, as well. Next time, I’ll try to do better. Posting an interview of a 19th-round draft choice seems very appropriate around the time of the draft.
Also, I know how much I need to upgrade my interview game.
Thanks to those responsible for bringing you this interview.