By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
March 24, 2010
Jaren Mathews placed education over money coming out of Don Bosco Prep in Teaneck, New Jersey, in 2007. After getting named on every conceivable list in Bergen County, he turned down the Boston Red Sox in the 17th round despite a competitive offer. After a solid sophomore season in 2009, Mathews played for Orleans in the Cape Cod League. He battled through a slow start at Rutgers in 2010, but his left-handed lift and power projection will give him a chance to go the pro route on his own terms.
Baseball Beginnings: How have you improved from high school to now?
Mathews: I think I have a much better understanding of the game. I’ve worked almost non-stop with my Dad. I feel I’m a lot stronger. Whenever we get the opportunity to hit, I call him up. That’s the good thing for me, going to school at Rutgers. I’m 45 minutes from home. I shoot down the turnpike, go hit with him, get back in time for class. I feel like I know different things.
Baseball Beginnings: What’s your Dad’s name and it sounds like he played.
Mathews: Leon Mathews. He played college baseball. I have a big family background in baseball. My cousin played two or three years in the Mariners organization.
Baseball Beginnings: So do you feel like you’re on the right track for the player you want to be?
Mathews: I’m more confident. You have to learn to be mentally tough during slumps. You have to keep moving forward and learn to not let the last at-bat affect the next one.
Baseball Beginnings: Are you learning to deal with that now?
Mathews: Definitely learning to do that now. If you can’t handle a slump, you can work your way right out of baseball.
Baseball Beginnings: What was your thinking after you were drafted out of high school?
Mathews: They gave me a very good offer for the 17th round. They offered $250,000. School was important for me and my family, to pursue a degree at least for three years, and if I went pro after three years, I could cut out a chunk of it. I didn’t want to be 24 about to start college for the first time if things didn’t work out in baseball. The thought process was go to college and get better. I wanted to be sure I was ready for pro ball when I went around.
Baseball Beginnings: $250,000 is good money for that round.
Mathews: It was third-round money that year.
Baseball Beginnings: What factors went into the decision to say education was more important than money at that stage?
Mathews: My parents both have Master’s Degrees.
Baseball Beginnings: So was it more like you saying, ‘Don’t think that going to school isn’t a tangible option for me’?
Baseball Beginnings: You’ve been a first baseman in college baseball. What position do you see yourself playing after you turn pro?
Mathews: The Red Sox wanted me to play left or right field if I had signed then. I’ve put on about 10 pounds since high school.
Baseball Beginnings: What kind of player do you see yourself becoming 3-5 years?
Mathews: My goal is to be in the big leagues by 2012. That’s what I’m working towards. This is something I want to do for the next 20 years of my life and then always be involved in baseball after that.
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