Source: Valley Roadrunner

Matt Hartman set to represent VC as a pitcher in the Area Code Games

by DAN KIDDER

August 02, 2013

There are a lot of “magic” numbers in baseball.

The 755 home runs hit by Hank Aaron, or the .400 batting average achieved by Ted Williams, or the 56-game hit streak by Joe DiMaggio are all emblazoned in the memories of baseball fans from every generation.

One of the magic numbers that pitchers like to see, especially young pitchers, is the number 90.

Valley Center’s Matt Hartman finally saw a 90 on a scout’s radar gun earlier this summer, and the 17-year-old hurler is starting to get some attention for it.

“I consistently throw in the high eighties, but I finally hit ninety for a scout at one of the tryouts,” he says. “I also have a curve, a changeup, a two-seam fastball and a splitter. I like to get guys out however I can. If the fastball is working and they’re late, then I’ll use that. It’s basically based on what the other team is doing.”

Hartman began playing baseball at age four and says he played for fun when he was growing up. That all changed last fall, when he began to discover that baseball could be more than just a summer diversion for him.

“I started getting more serious about pitching last fall when I was told I had the potential to be a division one college arm,” he says. “I had always pitched growing up, but never was very serious about it until then. Since last year, I’ve been working out to get stronger and picking up more strategy by talking to pitchers who have made it to the pros.”

He still has one more year to go at Calvary Christian School in Vista, Calif., where he has earned three consecutive first-team All-League selections, as well as being named the 2013 League Pitcher of the Year. And because of the influx of attention from the baseball community, he says he’s trying to improve his game in any way possible.

“There isn’t any one individual who I go to,” he says. “I go to as many people as I can to get as many different viewpoints as I can. I had a coach who pitched for the Padres, and my dad works with a guy who was a pitcher in the Phillies’ organization, and a few others. I just want to take it all in and see what works for me.”

Hartman was recently selected to play in the 2013 New Balance Area Code Games, a five-day baseball tournament in Long Beach that features the best high school players from around the country. To even be invited to try out, Hartman had to have a recommendation from a pro scout. He ended up making the 33-man roster for the Brewers, the team that will represent Southern California in the competition, which takes place from Aug. 5–10.

“It’s pretty cool,” Hartman says of the opportunity to play with and against the premiere players from around the country. “I got an e-mail from my coach and I went to the tryout, and the scouts apparently liked what they saw. It’s definitely an honor. I can’t wait to get to Long Beach.”

The tournament is a showcase for the nation’s best baseball talent and it gives the athletes exposure to every Major League Baseball team, as well as several hundred of the nation’s top collegiate baseball programs.

“I’m not really nervous because I don’t know exactly what to expect,” Hartman says of the upcoming tournament. “I’m excited to go up against some awesome competition. I’m sure I’ll be a little nervous when it’s game time though.”

And this week, Hartman got a call to play in the first annual Futures Game of the Elite Baseball Series, which took place Wednesday night at UCLA.

“It’s starting to snowball,” Hartman says. “It started at the Area Code tryouts when I got one of the best hitters in the country out twice, and ever since then, I’ve been getting a lot of calls. It’s encouraging to see all that hard work paying off.”

Hartman also recently returned from the Dominican Republic, where he was part of a group from Score International, an organization that sends groups on short-term missions trips to share the love of Jesus. He went with a group that played six baseball games against the Dominicans, and between games, the group would perform community service projects like house painting, cleaning and volunteering at an orphanage.

The Hartmans happened to move to Valley Center on Opening Day for Valley Center Little League back in 2004, which also happened to be Matt’s eighth birthday. Needless to say, Matt was on the field that day getting ready to play.

“We wanted to find a spot with a little more room,” says Fred Hartman, Matt’s dad. “It’s a really fun, nice small town and we’ve gotten to meet a lot of great people.”

The original version of this article stated that Matt Hartman attends Calvary Christian Academy in Escondido. In fact, Hartman attends Calvary Christian School in Vista, Calif.