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An Unexpected Phone Call


On June 20th of this year, Matt Pobereyko just finished up another Independent Baseball game. The right-hander was called into his manager's office moments after he headed back to the clubhouse.


"He (Manager Dennis Pelfrey) said the New York Mets had interest in signing me to a Minor League Contract," Pobereyko explained. "By the time our game had ended, I wasn't able to get in contact with anyone from the organization because it was late. So I waited patiently the next day, got all my flight information, and left around 6 a.m. on Wednesday, June 21st."


This is not the first time the Mets have decided to bring in someone from an Independent Baseball League. In fact, the organization signed eight former Indy Ball players to contracts from 2013-2015, according to Jeff Zimmerman who writes for The Hardball Times. One of these players, Josh Smoker, is currently on the 40-man roster for the Mets.


"The whole point of Independent Baseball is to get out of Independent Baseball," Pobereyko chuckled. "It's a job to hold on to for some time and the goal is to do well enough to move on from it. This has been a really exciting time for me."


Pobereyko's Indy Ball team was the Florence Freedom (KY). He was dominant for this squad just before he signed with the Mets. The righty pitched 18 innings, recorded 10 saves, and held a 1.00 ERA.


Prior to this season, Pobereyko was with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016. The 25-year-old played three different levels of Minor League Baseball within the organization that year. He was then released by the Diamondbacks at the end of the season.


"It was a very busy time, to say the least," Pobereyko said. "I spent time in Rookie ball, High-A, and Short Season. It was a lot of time on planes and switching scenery, which was interesting. This is the kind of life I chose and I'm enjoying every minute of it."


Pobereyko started his collegiate career at South Suburban Junior College (IL) where he played two seasons. The Indiana native moved on to spend the next three years (2013-2015) at Division II Kentucky Wesleyan College. His quest for a job in professional baseball wasn't the easiest.


"Our school had just over 600 students," Pobereyko said. "You have to be that much better. Your stats must be that much more impressive than what a Division I guy does and it's a tougher process. Being a fifth year senior at the time, dealing with two elbow surgeries, you aren't exactly the highest priority on a draft list."


The current Fireflies reliever had Tommy John surgery at age 20 when he was with South Suburban Junior College. Following his junior season, Pobereyko needed another surgery on his throwing arm.


"Mentally, it's just hard," Pobereyko emphasized. "Before the second surgery, I just couldn't throw a baseball. At that point, it started to become very difficult and I thought maybe I wasn't going to be able to play again."

He persevered and put together a stellar 2015 season at Kentucky Wesleyan. Pobereyko was a starting pitcher at the time and held a 1.84 ERA in 12 games. There was one start that turned many heads. The righty threw a no hitter and registered a school-record 18 strikeouts on April 5, 2015.


"It was crazy," Pobereyko laughed. "The first guy I faced, I actually walked. I proceeded to pick over to first and he (base runner) got to third base with nobody out. Then, I struck out the side and started to feel something special."


Pobereyko officially signed with the New York Mets on June 21, 2017. He was then assigned to the Columbia Fireflies a few days later.