On second day of draft, Cardinals select Quinn Mathews, who became famous for throwing 156 pitches in game

By Rob Rains

As a former college pitcher at Southern California, Randy Flores had a somewhat different reaction than most when he learned that Quinn Mathews of Stanford had thrown 156 pitches in a game this season.

“I actually really, really respected it,” Flores said on Monday. “This gray hair kind of gives it away, but I pitched in college back in the time when they didn’t keep track of pitches the way that they do now.

“They weren’t tracking every pitch and every inning … You don’t want that every week and it’s not something we go and seek, but for someone who is that willing to compete I thought that was very attractive actually.”

Just a month after that 156-pitch effort in a win over Texas in the Super Regionals that helped Stanford move on to the College World Series, the Cardinals used their pick in the fourth round of the MLB Draft on Monday to select Mathews, a 22-year-old lefthander.

It was more than just that one game, which included 16 strikeouts, that prompted the Cardinals to select Mathews, who had been a reliever for Stanford in 2022. He was drafted by Tampa Bay in the 19th round but decided to return to school and became the Friday night starter.

Mathews finished the season with a 10-4 record and 3.75 ERA. He worked 124 innings, striking out 158 batters while walking only 40.

“This is someone who is fearless and loves the big moment,” Flores said. “It seems like he was up for any challenge. You have a player who was in the bullpen, wants the challenge of starting, then wants the challenge of the ball in the biggest moments for as long as he can.

“I had a chance to connect with his head coach Dave Esquer and he said my goodness what a competitor and what growth for this young man. Our scouts really had a lot of things that they thought were intriguing, along with our analysts. We really think his arsenal bodes well for pro ball.”

Mathews said in a phone conversation that he had no idea about the Cardinals’ interest in him until after 15 minutes before his selection was announced.

“The draft wasn’t really the priority,” Mathews said about returning to Stanford this year. “I needed to go back to school kind of for myself and develop as a human being as well as a baseball player, but more so on the personal side, to be a little more prepared for whatever might come after the season. It’s a nice cherry on top.”

Mathews is aware that his game against Texas earned him more publicity, with many people criticizing the fact that he threw so many pitches.

A month later, he – like Flores – is not concerned about that game or the attention that it received.

Mathews said he did not know exactly how many pitches he had thrown before the ninth inning of that game – 135 – before throwing 21 more pitches in the ninth inning.

“We didn’t normally get a pitch count in games,” he said. “I didn’t want it, I felt good. I didn’t feel like I was at the number I was at, which I guess is a good thing physically that my body was responding. Would I have gone back out for the ninth knowing my pitch count? Logically I should say no but I am a competitor.”

What surprised Mathews was the national reaction to that game, even though he exceeded 100 pitches in 15 of his 18 starts and three times threw more than 120 pitches in a game.

“It wasn’t a weekly thing, the body wasn’t too taxed and the body was prepared,” Mathews said. “Ir was the last start at home, in front of that crowd, and that kind of played into it.

“I didn’t expect the story to blow up the way it did, at least nationally. It was a cool thing for myself to get a little more exposure. I definitely wouldn’t want to do it every week but when the team needed me to and in that situation I didn’t think it was too crazy. … I was built up for that moment.”

One interesting sidenote to the Cardinals selecting Mathews is that he will now be in the same organization as Chase Davis, the outfielder from Arizona that they picked in the first round on Sunday night.

Mathews and Davis have had some good battles over the years, he said.

“I kind of beat him up this year, I don’t know if he will ever admit that,” Mathews said. “He hit a ball like 430 feet off me my junior year so I don’t know if we want to call it even or not. He’s a good player. I was stoked when he got drafted and more so now to know we will be on the same side.”

Mathews was one of five college pitchers selected by the Cardinals with their eight day two picks. They also chose three outfielders, also all college selections.

Part of the reasoning behind those picks, Flores said, was that without a second-round pick, the Cardinals have a smaller bonus pool to sign their players.

Two of their selections, third round pick Travis Honeyman and ninth round pick Christian Worley, each had their seasons cut short by injuries. Honeyman had a shoulder injury and Worley an arm injury.

“Absent that injury, we feel there’s no way he’s there for us in the third round,” Flores said of Honeyman. “We believe it will be well worth the wait.”

The draft will conclude on Tuesday with rounds 11 to 20.

Day 2 selections by the Cardinals

3rd round  – Outfielder Travis Honeyman, Boston College

4th round – LHP Quinn Mathews, Stanford

5th round – Outfielder Zach Levenson, U of Miami (Fla.)

6th round – RHP Jason Savacool, Maryland

7th round – RHP Charles Harrison, UCLA

8th round – LHP Ixan Henderson, Fresno State

9th round – RHP Christian Worley, Virginia Tech

10th round – Outfielder Caden Kendle, California-Irvine

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

Photo of Quinn Mathews courtesy of Stanford athletics

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.