Kitsap's Shane Matheny now just a step from joining the San Francisco Giants

·3 min read
Olympic High graduate Shane Matheny was recently called up to the San Francisco Giants' Triple-A team in Sacramento.
Olympic High graduate Shane Matheny was recently called up to the San Francisco Giants' Triple-A team in Sacramento.

Baseball players drafted in the 23rd round are considered longshots to make the complete climb through the minor leagues and reach the pros.

Olympic High School graduate Shane Matheny, selected at that late stage five years ago, may not be one anymore.

Picked in the 23rd round by the San Francisco Giants back in 2017, Matheny is now one step away from the big leagues. The 26-year-old is playing with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats after being called up from Double-A Richmond on July 29.

Matheny shared an interesting story of how he found out he'd be joining Sacramento.

"I was actually asleep," he said.

More local baseball picks:Atlanta Braves select Bainbridge Island's JR Ritchie in Major League Baseball draft

Richmond played a home doubleheader on July 28 with Matheny collecting three hits (including a home run) and three RBI against the Somerset Patriots. After returning home, Matheny went to sleep before waking up to a 2 a.m. phone call from Richmond manager Dennis Pelfrey. Matheny was headed to Triple-A.

"That woke me up real quick," Matheny said. "My flight was at nine that morning. I was pretty frantic after that."

Matheny made sure to share the good news with his parents. Daryl Matheny, Shane's father, said he and his wife were vacationing with friends in eastern Washington at the time. Receiving a phone call from his son at close to midnight, Daryl initially wondered if Shane suffered an injury.

"He told us the good news," Daryl said. "It was pretty exciting. We had a great celebration on his behalf that night."

Matheny, who played collegiately at Washington State University, is enjoying his best season in the minors to date. He's hitting .257 with a .383 on-base percentage, 10 home runs, 38 RBI and 44 runs scored in 237 at-bats — pretty much raising his offensive numbers across the board hitting .207 in Double-A in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic completely wiped out minor league baseball in 2020.

"For the entire year, I was trying to do whatever I could," said Matheny, who has four hits in 16 at-bats in Sacramento. "Getting on base for everyone, scoring runs, driving in runs, doing whatever I could in the field, learning new positions."

Shane Matheny is hitting .257 this season while playing four positions: second base, shortstop, third base and center field.
Shane Matheny is hitting .257 this season while playing four positions: second base, shortstop, third base and center field.

As a versatile infielder for most of his career, Matheny added center field to his list of positions this year. A month into the season, Matheny said he was shagging fly balls during batting practice when Richmond's manager asked Matheny if he ever played in center.

"I told him I played a little outfield in high school," Matheny said.

Soon thereafter, Matheny found himself patrolling centerfield. The fact that Matheny has double-digit starts at four defensive positions this season — second base, shortstop, third base and center — is another reason he provides roster value.

"It's just another way to get at-bats, trying to break into the lineup," he said.

Matheny figures he'll see family and friends when Sacramento takes a road trip to face the Tacoma Rainiers for a five-game series at the end of August. In the meantime, he'll continue to grind away, knowing he's one step away from reaching the top rung on MLB's ladder.

"Any day that I can continue to play, I love it, I'm grateful for it, I'm thankful for it," Matheny said. "At the end of the day, my goal still isn't finished. I'm still going to keep going."

This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Olympic High grad continues climb up San Francisco Giants' ladder