Case Matter, a Jackson High School graduate, pitches for the Washington Huskies during an NCAA Tournament regionals game against Dallas Baptist in on June 4, 2023, in Stillwater, OK. (Bruce Waterfield / Oklahoma State University Athletics)

Case Matter, a Jackson High School graduate, pitches for the Washington Huskies during an NCAA Tournament regionals game against Dallas Baptist in on June 4, 2023, in Stillwater, OK. (Bruce Waterfield / Oklahoma State University Athletics)

Matter ‘overjoyed’ to get drafted, sign deal with Rangers

The Jackson High School graduate realizes his dream of playing professional baseball, but now bigger goals lie ahead.

While the second day of the MLB draft took place in Seattle, Case Matter and family sat just miles away in the living room of their Mill Creek home monitoring the ticker on MLB.com.

The 2020 Jackson High School graduate and University of Washington relief pitcher was anxiously waiting to see if his name would be called after his advisor said a selection on the second of the draft’s three days was a possibility.

Matter had to sweat out most of the day, but his name finally popped up during the final round of picks Monday, July 10. The Texas Rangers selected the hard-throwing right-hander in the 10th round with the 291st overall pick.

“It was getting a little intense at the end,” Matter said by phone from Arizona, “but I was just happy and overjoyed when my name actually went through.”

“I probably should have been doing something else like playing golf or something to distract myself,” Matter quipped.

Matter and the Rangers made it official this past week, with the Mill Creek product receiving a $155,000 bonus upon signing with the organization.

“The first couple days I was down here (in Arizona) it didn’t feel real at all, but I think once I put my name on the dotted line and signed it kind of sunk in,” he said. “Now we’re talking about all the logistics of what it means to be a pro baseball player like the health insurance. It’s like a real job, so it’s starting to hit me a little more.”

What’s hitting Matter is the realization that he’ll get to continue on with his greatest passion.

“I just kind of loved the sport from a really young age,” he said. “… I really just had a goal of playing baseball as long as I could. Now that happens to be professional baseball, so it’s exciting. Now my goal is to make it to the major leagues.”

Matter, whose fastball sits between 94-97 mph, said he’s been throwing bullpen sessions with Texas’ Arizona Complex League affiliate in Surprise, Arizona. He expects to get his first game action soon.

Matter was a first-team All-Wesco 4A selection as a pitcher and infielder and second-team All-Area pitcher during a standout junior season at Jackson. He didn’t have a senior season in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He signed with Washington out of high school and appeared in two games while redshirting in 2021.

Matter made seven starts in 19 appearances while splitting duties as a starter and reliever in 2022. He posted a 2-3 record with a 5.40 ERA and 53 strikeouts over 43.1 innings.

The right-hander shined while moving into a more permanent bullpen role this past season. All but one of his 19 appearances came in relief, and he recorded a 4-1 record, five saves and 34 strikeouts with a 3.91 ERA over 25.1 innings. Matter didn’t allow a run in 14 of his appearances and limited opponents to a .191 batting average and just six extra-base hits. His efforts earned him an All-Pac-12 honorable mention and helped the Huskies reach the NCAA regionals.

“I’ve kind of always been attack, attack, attack, but that came out even more in the bullpen,” Matter said. “… As a starter you don’t go out there and blow it all out in the first inning, you’ve got to kind of hold it back a little bit. That was the difference.”

He also reveled in the chance to pitch in high-leverage situations.

“The adrenaline that you get going out there for the ninth, you just kind of black out sometimes,” Matter said. “As funny as it sounds, I kind of enjoy that because it’s thrilling. It’s like riding a roller coaster.”

The 21-year-old still had two years of college eligibility remaining upon being selected by Texas, but he wasn’t ready to pass up the opportunity to play pro baseball.

“When you get an opportunity, you’ve kind of just gotta run with it,” Matter said. “With injuries and all that stuff, I’ve seen a lot of guys … think they’re gonna do better the next year and maybe get injured and then they don’t get the money that they had the year before. So it’s just taking your opportunities but also being smart and not just chasing the money. I thought this was a good opportunity with a great organization that’s pretty good at developing pitchers.”

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