Tech baseball signee turns down Rangers for school

Photo Courtesy: Texas Tech
Photo Courtesy: Texas Tech

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - From the Texas Tech Athletics Department:

Texas Tech received good news on Friday, the day that marks the signing deadline for the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Tech signee and Midland Christian High School standout right-handed pitcher Matt Withrow will join the Red Raiders after turning down the Texas Rangers who selected him in the 37th round just over a month ago.

Texas Tech had a school-record nine MLB Draft picks – seven of which had eligibility remaining – as all nine players signed professional contracts.

Three Red Raider signees also inked deals with MLB organizations, leaving the Odessa native as the final draftee that could end up wearing a Tech uniform in 2013.

"I'm really excited to come to Tech," Withrow said. "I'm looking forward to having a good opportunity to pitch as a freshman and I hope that I take advantage of it."

Withrow (6-3, 210) finished his prep career this season going 7-0 with a 2.49 ERA in 59 innings pitched with 79 strikeouts and 35 walks while also batting .397 with four home runs and 37 RBI. He hails from the same high school program that produced current Red Raider infielder Bryant Burleson and former third baseman Reid Redman.

With the Red Raiders losing the majority of their innings pitched from 2012, Withrow, along with all of Tech's newcomers, will have a chance to pitch in key situations next spring.

"I think Matt understands the value of going to school for three years and where his development will put him at the end of his third season here," Texas Tech head baseball coach Tim Tadlock said. "I think he has a chance to be a starter for us right away."

Withrow's arsenal of pitches and his projectability made many Major League Baseball scouts feel his time could be now to join the professional ranks. One National League scout said in the middle of March that Withrow was considered one of the top high school pitchers in the state, and if he was willing to sign he could be taken in the top five rounds of the draft.

Perfect Game tabbed Withrow as the seventh-ranked high school pitcher in the state of Texas.

Withrow, who pitched in the upper-80's to low-90's all season and topped out at 94 MPH, turned down Texas A&M and Houston – to name a few – during the early signing period before deciding on Tech.

"Once I signed with Tech I knew I had that option and that was a good feeling," Withrow said. "I knew if it didn't work out in the draft I would go to Tech and have another chance at pro ball later on."

One teammate he will soon share a clubhouse with during the upcoming year is junior-to-be left-handed pitcher Andre Wheeler, who was selected in the 22nd round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wheeler also turned down the opportunity to turn pro out of high school and made his way to Lubbock.

"Back when I got drafted, I thought about it because at the time I was going to go to a junior college or sign with the Dodgers," Wheeler said. "Then I got a late offer from Tech. I knew that was going to be a great opportunity for me to get better and to get an education. I looked at that and thought that would be a better opportunity for me."

Now two years later, Wheeler, who was second on the team with 23 appearances and struck out 17 batters as one of Tech's top left-handed relievers this past season, knows he made the right decision by going to Texas Tech.

"I definitely made the right choice," Wheeler said. "I also changed paths because if I would have signed out of high school I would have gone as a position player. Now that I'm pitching, if I get a chance to go to the next level it will be on the mound. Just the experience getting on the mound and this past year I had a lot more opportunities – that has given me confidence. My experience at Tech has helped me a lot."

Reid Redman, who was a gold-glove caliber third baseman for two seasons at Tech and is now in the Tampa Bay Rays minor league organization, is not only familiar with Withrow – having also grown up in Midland – but also with turning down an opportunity to play professional baseball.

Redman was a 37th round draft pick by the Dodgers in 2011, following his first season with the Red Raiders when he led the team batting .320 while starting in all 58 games. He finished his collegiate career moving up 14 rounds in the draft as a 23rd round pick by the Rays just weeks after his college graduation.

"Matt will be a great addition to the Texas Tech baseball program," Redman said. "He obviously comes from great bloodlines as his dad and two brothers are all great ball players. Once he works with Tadlock's staff and gets in Tory's (Stephens) strength program he has a chance to make great strides and be a dominant arm at Tech.

"With a few years under Tadlock and with maturing, I believe Matt will have a great opportunity to be in professional baseball."

The Withrow family certainly understands professional baseball as his father, Mike, and brother, Chris, both experienced the MLB Draft and pro baseball. Mike was a seventh round draft pick by the White Sox in 1981 and advanced to Double-A while Chris was a first-round pick (20th overall) by the Dodgers in 2007 and is currently in Double-A with the Chattanooga Lookouts.

Now that the draft has come and gone, Texas Tech will have a new look in 2013 – one that will include Matt Withrow.