Getting traded to the team that you're playing against during a series doesn't happen very often, but current reliever Matt Frawley got to experience playing against the RiverDogs one day to playing for them the next. On June 14, Frawley made the 100 foot walk with his gear from the West Virginia Power clubhouse to the RiverDogs' clubhouse after receiving information that he was the player to be named later in the Yankees-Pirates trade that sent pitcher Johnny Barbato to Pittsburgh "It was definitely some shell shock. My life flipped upside down in about 90 seconds when I got that phone call" said Frawley. "It was a weird afternoon that day, but it didn't hit me until the Power actually left town and I felt like there was still a part of me over there"
Charleston won both the first two games against the Power and looked for the sweep in the series finale on June 15. Frawley's last action came against Greensboro on June 12 with West Virginia and for the first time in his professional career he got the call in the seventh inning to pitch against players that 24 hours ago he called his teammates "The adrenaline was pumping through me. It was kind of surreal, but it was like a spring training that mattered. At the same time, I felt like I had a slight advantage knowing some of the hitters and what they were looking for. I think I had to call Donny (Sands) out a couple of times just to get on the same page as him. Overall it was cool but strange at the same time and defiantly a once in a lifetime experience"
Frawley grew up in suburban Chicago an attended Glenbard North High School where he excelled both on and off the field. He was a three-year varsity starter, but didn't see baseball becoming a career opportunity until he got recruited to college "I had a pretty poor freshman year at Purdue. I wasn't mentally mature yet and I was starting to have some second thoughts but I was able to work on things mentally and mechanically my sophomore year of college and that transferred over to my Junior year. Probably end of my sophomore year to my junior year when I got into summer ball I thought again that this could be something I can consider".
Frawley was named the DuPage County co-Pitcher of the year in his senior season after putting up a 1.47 ERA over 43.0 innings and recording 55 strikeouts. He also batted .289 with eight extra base hits and 25 RBI in his senior season. In addition to the numbers on the field, Frawley excelled well in the classroom finishing his time at Glenbard North with a 4.0 GPA. "My dad and mom were always pounding me in a motivational way throughout high school to manage my time better than the average student. Athletics were a full time job, once I got to college it was like if I don't get my stuff done in the classroom I'm not going to be able to play. I started to realize that my freshman year of college, if I screw up in one aspect, the other one will not work either. I had to realize that baseball might not work out and I needed a back-up plan"
When high school came to an end, Frawley took his talents to Purdue University where he got the opportunity to play against some tough competition in the Big 10 "Purdue just seemed like the right fit. I fell in love with the campus as soon as I got there and the people there were very welcoming and it made me feel right at home just like the guys here did". In his first season, he appeared in 13 games, all out of the bullpen. His season high three-innings of work came against Illinois-Chicago when he retired the seven of the first eight batters he faced.
Following his Junior season, Frawley had to make a tough decision, weather to go pro with an offer from the Pirates or finish off his senior season at Purdue "I thought I was prepared at the time until I got that phone call and I realized that now I have to decide whether to go back or not. I had to leave a bunch of great teammates. At the end of the day, I think that this was the right decision and it was definitely a career path not many get to choose and I had to jump on the opportunity".
After lots of thought, the once Boilermaker chose to take the path to become a Pirate. Frawley was drafted by Pittsburgh in the 17th round of the 2017 draft and was assigned to the New York-Penn League with the West Virginia Black Bears. " I was about to start a homework assignment for my summer class and I got a phone call from the scout and that was probably the most hectic 15 minutes of my life. I raced downstairs and I phoned my agent and asked him for advice. While I was on hold with him, my mom came running outside and was like "you just got drafted" and I was like how did you know before I did? And that's when my life changed"
In his pro season, Frawley saw action in 17 games out of the bullpen posting a 3-1 record with a 4.18 ERA. He struck out 33 batters while waking only nine. At the end of his first season, he got promoted for one game in the SAL with the West Virginia Power and worked three scoreless innings on August 31 against Columbia. He began this season with the Power seeing action in 19 games and compiling a 3-1 record with a miniscule 1.62 ERA through 33.1 innings of work.
Frawley has always been a strikeout pitcher with very little walks. In a season and a half, he has racked up 85 punch outs to just 16 free bases. His spike-curveball has always been his go-to pitch when it comes to fanning batters. "My dad taught me that when I was about 12 years old because he didn't want me to torque my elbow too much so I kind of ran with that and here I am probably using that four maybe five times an inning"
The former West Virginia Power reliver has made a great fit for the already dominant RiverDogs bullpen. In six appearances with Charleston, he holds a tiny 0.75 ERA with 18 strikeouts to just two walks in his 12 innings of work.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.