Matt Brumit was true to himself. If the pitcher wasn't going to get batters out, he wasn't going to involve himself with thoughts of a professional baseball career.
So when the attention from pro scouts began during his junior year at Youngstown State, Brumit looked the other way. He thought that was the right thing to do.
"I had a terrible year," said Brumit, a right-hander from Tallmadge. "I didn't deserve to get anything. I didn't deserve looking at them [the pro opportunities]."
Brumit went 1-7 with a 7.54 ERA as a junior with the Penguins.
"I was leaving a lot of pitches up. I was just getting hit," Brumit said. "But I learned from it."
Two years removed from that tumultuous season, Brumit now finds himself in professional baseball. He finds himself in the New York Yankees organization, with the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League.
Brumit was taken in the 44th round of the June draft and given a $5,000 signing bonus.
"I didn't get many looks due to the weather, and we didn't play that many games this year," he said of his draft chances.
Six rounds from the draft's conclusion, Brumit finally got the telephone call that changed his life.
"I didn't know it was going to happen," he said. "I was losing hope that second day."
Brumit grew up a Cleveland Indians fan, and he loved to hate the Yankees. Safe to say, his family gave him some grief upon being drafted by the Bronx Bombers.
"Knowing your boss is George Steinbrenner is kind of exciting," he said. "I get to put on the pinstripes. It's just the tradition and honor of wearing that uniform."
Using his fastball and curveball effectively, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Brumit has been impressive in his first pro season.
"My two dominant pitches are turning me into a decent closer," said Brumit, who also has been developing a changeup. "My pitching coach told me that if I'm going to get beat in the ninth, I'm going to get beat with my two best pitches."
Brumit's 13 saves this season, including one against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, rank first in the league. He has a 2.14 ERA in 21 innings for the Yankees.
"These guys are just getting used to swinging the wooden bats," Brumit said. "I can be more aggressive with the hitters. It's a different mentality you take on the field with you."
After acclimating himself to college baseball in his freshman season, Brumit contributed to the team in various roles.
"Matt is a special kid," said Youngstown State baseball coach Mike Florak. "He was one of the first guys with me for four years, and he did everything we asked. You wouldn't find one kid who played baseball at YSU who didn't love Matt."
As a sophomore, Brumit was strictly a reliever. His 5-2 record and 7.61 ERA preceded a junior season, his first as a starter, that he called "brutal." He would dominate in brief stretches and then lose focus. The results forced him to keep a pro career in the back of his mind.
"We kept saying to pro scouts that we see him as a reliever," Florak said. "He has the capability to throw two or three consecutive days, and one time through the order his curveball is not going to get hit. The first time guys see it, it absolutely paralyzes them."
Still, contributing to the team's needs, Brumit started 13 games as a junior and 11 as a senior, going 4-5 with a 4.15 ERA in his final season with the Penguins.
"We kept telling him how good he could be," Florak said. "It all came together for him last year. We were tickled to see that. For him to last until the 44th round, the Yankees got a steal."
Getting a look
The Yankees liked what they saw from Brumit during a pre-draft workout last season. It was then, Florak estimated, that Brumit separated himself from the pack.
"He hit 93 [mph] on their radar gun," Florak said. "His velocity is consistently 88-92. If he gets two miles per hour more, there's no telling how high he can go."
Brumit's tenure at Youngstown State is not finished. He will be a student assistant on Florak's staff in the fall while continuing to work toward his education degree.
"I learned a lot at YSU," Brumit said. "I learned discipline and professionalism from Coach Florak. The Yankees have strict rules, and I'm already used to them."
Florak said, "He's a super person. For me to have a kid like Matt do this for the Yankees, man, it's been a highlight."