- Category: Town Sports
- Published on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 14:11
- Written by Luis Javier Mandujano
Growing up a bit smaller than everyone else may cause you to question your athletic ability. For Norwalk native Matt Iannazzo, it is a challenge he has learned to overcome as he chases his dream of becoming a big league pitcher. The Chicago Cubs drafted him in 2012 after he played four years collegiately at division one powerhouse Pittsburgh. He is currently going through the farm system and pitches for the Daytona Cubs, as he prepares for his debut in the majors.
The road to success, Iannazzo reflects, wouldn’t have been possible without the competitive edge he gained playing Little League and Babe Ruth baseball in Norwalk. “It was a great asset to grow up in such a diverse town like Norwalk,” he said. “It allowed me to go through great coaching and experience a lot of great memories through youth and high school baseball. Nonetheless, I can’t forget my parents for the support and investment into my career.”
Adapting to the next level didn’t come easy at first for Iannazzo, as he had to adapt quickly to the high level of competition and demand for results that clubs look for. “There is a big difference between playing college ball and playing at the next level,” he explained. “In pro ball, everyone is the best from their colleges and were record setters in their leagues, so you’re seeing the best of the best.”
Iannazzo has faced numerous challenges after landing a deal with the Cubs. “Becoming a big league pitcher hasn’t come easy, especially being a pitcher who doesn’t meet the physical features that many teams look for,” he said. “Everyone at this level expects to see dominance in a big and strong looking figure. My size doesn’t help me meet those expectations, but I have learned to work around it choosing my pitches wisely and learning to be very accurate in my throwing as well.” Learning to overcome adversity and defeat the typical stereotypes is never easy. But Iannazzo recognizes that looking beyond limitations is necessary in order to succeed.
So what is the biggest obstacle the biggest obstacle Iannazzo has faced up until now? He answered, “It would have to be the doubts I received coming up. After success in youth and High School baseball, people underestimated the possibilities I had of making it because of my size and power. I simply looked past all of the critics and leaned towards overall will and hard work which can get you past anything.”
When asked about how he has coped with stardom, Iannazzo said, “ I’m still the same guy. I come home during my breaks and speak to the kids playing Babe Ruth and youth baseball, at clinics about how success doesn’t come easy. I tell them to look at my example about overcoming the adversity of not having the height and strength that many pitchers have. I want them to look at me as an ace for the Cubs someday, and say if he can make it there so can I.”
Iannazzo remains aware of the possibility that he won’t make it and hopes to get into the business world or become a teacher if things don’t work out as planned. But he added that he would not want to leave the sport that has given him so much behind. Whether it as a high school or college coach, he hopes to remain to involved with the game even after his baseball career ends.
Show your support for Matt Iannazzo and the Daytona Cubs this season by catching the games live on the radio at http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t450.