The Collegian
Thursday, August 18, 2022

Baseball standout passes on the Orioles to continue playing for the Spiders

<p>Junior Alden Mathes at the April 17 game against Virginia Commonwealth University. Photo Courtesy of Richmond Athletics.</p>

Junior Alden Mathes at the April 17 game against Virginia Commonwealth University. Photo Courtesy of Richmond Athletics.

The Baltimore Orioles drafted redshirt junior baseball player Alden Mathes in the 2022 MLB Draft, but he chose to decline the offer and return to UR for another year. He was picked in the 19th round of the event as the 557th overall pick.

Mathes joins 44 former Spiders in UR baseball history who have been drafted since 1995. The only Spider who is currently in the MLB, Vinny Capra, ‘18, plays for the Toronto Blue Jays.

“It means everything to me,” Mathes said. “I’ve been working at that goal my whole entire life. "Ever since I was a kid — ever since I probably could have walked — my dad was probably tossing me tennis balls. So, I’ve honestly been working at that goal my entire life and there’s no better feeling than the dream coming true.” 

But, that dream will be put on hold, as once drafted, Mathes had a decision to make: whether he wanted to sign a contract with the Orioles this summer, or whether he wanted to retain his remaining two years of collegiate eligibility.

After taking a few days to think it over, on July 23, Mathes decided to return to UR and play for another season. 

He said that after talking it over with family, friends and coaches, the idea of unfinished business and eventually graduating from UR went into his decision to remain with the Spiders.

“We came in second last year in the A-10 tournament, and I think we have the team coming first this year,” Mathes said. “I obviously value my degree quite a lot. So, I want to graduate and, then, probably give myself the chance to play pro baseball after getting that degree.”

Mathes both pitched and played as an outfielder for the Spiders this past season. As a pitcher, he appeared in 21 games and finished with a 3-2 record. His earned run average for the season was 3.35 and he struck out 58 batters

As a hitter, he was one of the most reliable at the plate for the Spiders. He finished the season with a .344 average and garnered 85 hits, 59 RBIs, and 10 home runs in 55 games. 

Shane Gipson, a graduate student catcher for the Spiders, said Mathes was a versatile player who could take on any position on the field.

“We know how hard he works, how good of a season he’s had — how good of a career he’s had at Richmond. So, we’re all just excited for him to continue on and play professional baseball, which is his end goal.”

Mathes began his career with UR’s baseball team in 2020, where he played in 13 games and led the team with a .375 batting average. He gave credit to his teammates and coaches for his success. 

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“I’ve had the most supportive teammates in the world and the coaching staff is so open and so supportive of every decision I’ve made,” he said. “And they’ve developed me into a great player, too, whether it’s pitching or hitting.”

Christian Beal, a graduate student who plays alongside Mathes in the outfield for the Spiders, said after the original news of his selection that Mathes was the ultimate competitor and a winner, mentioning his leadership.  

“He’s a leader, but not a leader that is just a vocal one,” Beal said. “He leads by his actions and he doesn’t ask any one of his teammates to do anything that he isn’t willing to do.” 

Now that Mathes has opted to return to UR, he said he is expecting big things out of the Spiders next season.

“It’s kind of the first time in a few years we’ve had a core group returning, and we had a lot of success in the tournament,” he said. “I think we kind of found ourselves, found our identity back then, so having the same group going into next year is very exciting.”

In the meantime, Mathes will continue to work to fulfill his dream of playing baseball at the next level. At this point in his career, it just wasn’t quite the right time, he said.

Contact sports writer Jimmy James at jimmy.james@richmond.edu.

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