Q&A with Missouri State Commit RHP Matt Russell (Staley, 2017)

Shon Plack
Missouri Scouting Director

Matt Russell (Staley, 2017) has committed to Missouri State.  Russell, a 6-foot-3 190-pound right-handed pitcher, has seen a velocity increase on the mound this summer, topping out at 90 mph at the Top Prospects Games in August. 

In August, Russell had a dominate outing, collecting six strikeouts, one walk and one hit against seven hitters.  His fastball was at 88-90 mph.  Russell showed a sharp/late breaking ball with 11-to-5 action, 77-81 mph, with swing and miss potential.  He throws strikes with all pitches, he is strong bodied, and throws with some effort at end of delivery. Russell has clean arm action, a high three quarters release, and turned in the best pitching outing of the August event.

Russell plays for the KC Bullets during the summer and is currently playing for the Kansas City Royals Elite Scout Team this fall.  He is looking to get Staley back to the state championship this spring, after being named Honorable Mention All-State as a pitcher last season. 

Here is a look inside the recruiting process for Matt Russell.

PBR: What were your expectations about the recruiting process?  Was it as expected?   Easy/Difficult?

Russell: I was hoping to get a scholarship, but I didn’t know which schools would choose me. It was not exactly what I expected and I was very surprised at the number of schools that showed interest.  Remaining patient through the process was the only difficult part.

PBR: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

Russell: Yes, I received an offer from a university that was 9 hours away from home, but decided that was too far away from my friends and family.

PBR: Where did Missouri State first see you? How did your relationship develop with them?

Russell: I initially showed interest in their school because one of my teammates had committed to play at MSU. I attended a Missouri State baseball camp last fall. Coach Guttin asked me some general questions about my high school career and what positions I had played. Later, I found out they were following my progress.

PBR: Who is the best player you have faced in your state, and why?

Russell: Blake Charlton from CBC in the 2015 State Championship Game.  He threw in the low 90s and the best pitcher our team had seen that year.                       

PBR: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

Russell: A lot of the work is done in the weight room. Be coachable and never give up.

PBR: What do you do in the offseason to keep yourself in baseball shape and prepare for the upcoming season?

Russell: Like I said earlier, a lot of the work is done in the weight room.  I rebuild my legs and resistance training for my upper body. (J-bands) I also try to play long toss at least once a week in the offseason.  My diet generally is lots of proteins, carbs, and no soda pop.

PBR: What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point?

Russell: My sophomore year, we won the sectional game against Lee’s Summit West  to go to state . At the end of the game, we dog-piled on our home field. It was one of the coolest feelings being with all of your teammates and celebrating when all the hard work finally paid off.

PBR: What do you like most about Missouri State and what were the key factors in making your decision?

Russell: MSU has a beautiful campus. The baseball team is always competitive and their field is one of the best in the region. They have an experienced coaching staff who are knowledgeable and communicate well with the players.  

PBR: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

Russell: UCM, Central Arkansas and Missouri Southern

PBR: Preview your high school season for us. How do you feel your team will be?  What are your expectations and goals?

Russell: This year we will be a young team. We lost 14 seniors, but with Staley tradition, we will be competitive. Coach Wilson designs our schedule so there are no breaks.  Our first goal every season is to win conference. After that, it’s one game at a time until we reach our goal: State Championship. 

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