by Michael Smith
Grain Valley graduate Caden Matlon is looking for a new college team.
This past spring, he didn’t get any playing time for Johnson County community college. The Cavaliers had a handful of other catchers competing for one spot, making it difficult for Matlon to earn any playing time.
Before he decides where to transfer, Matlon has shifted his focus to the Ban Johnson Summer League, where he plays for the Creche Innovation Stars. He’s had a solid season for them, hitting .294 with three doubles, seven RBIs and .849 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
“It’s good to be playing baseball again,” Matlon said. “I am looking at Dodge City Community College and Maple Woods, Jesse is my connection there.
“Johnson County had 47 guys. It wasn’t a good fit. They had three third-year guys at catcher.”
Stars manager Kyle Clifton said he was impressed with the way that Matlon has crushed the ball after not playing at all during the spring.
“In his first at bat he probably hit a ball (with a 90-plus exit velocity) right back up the middle,” Clifton said. “When you have that kind of approach you know you’re a good hitter. For him, it was just about knocking the rust off.”
And his approach has led to minimizing strikeouts as he’s only fanned four times this summer.
“He doesn’t swing and miss. That’s his strength,” Clifton said. “He hits a lot of line drives. He’s compact and short to the ball.”
At the beginning of the Ban Johnson season, Matlon struggled throwing runners out. Clifton said he noticed that Matlon was short-arming his throws, so he told the redshirt freshman to relax and just throw. Since then, Clifton has helped Matlon make adjustments and it’s helped decrease his release time and add velocity to his throws.
“It looks like he’s throwing the ball a lot better,” Clifton said. “He’s gotten better at holding runners and catching people stealing. He should get better as he goes back to his college season.”
Matlon is getting his first taste of college competition with the Stars. He said he noticed right away that facing college pitching would be a lot more difficult than batting against high school pitchers.
“Pitchers are so much better (at the college level),” Matlon said. “They have a lot more control over their pitches, especially their off-speed stuff.”
But Matlon should play his first full season in college next spring. Matlon said he has no preference on where he wants to go. He just wants to play baseball.
“(NCAA Division I) is always the goal, but I just want to be as good as I can,” Matlon said.