Way off to strong start with 'Cutters
Six one-hit innings in Alaskan southpaw's first win
Matt Way brought more than just his talented left arm to the Philadelphia Phillies' organization last month.
"The Phillies have 9,000 more fans now," said the 22-year-old left-hander after firing six one-hit innings Monday in the Williamsport Crosscutters' 8-1 victory over the State College Spikes at Bowman Field.
Way (1-0), who was selected by Philadelphia in the fifth round of June's First-Year Player Draft, hails from the small city of Sitka, Alaska, which has an estimated population of just under 9,000.
While Alaskan hurlers have been few and far between in the Majors, Way is off to a strong start to his professional career, yielding one run on five hits and a walk with 13 strikeouts over his first three outings with Williamsport.
"The small town that I came from didn't really turn into a baseball town until my senior year," said Way, who led the Sikta High School Wolves to their first state championship in 2005 before attending Washington State University.
"There's a lot more kids coming out for baseball now. I receive tons of text messages from friends, family and some people I don't even know congratulating me and wishing me luck in my next start."
Way's phone must be buzzing after Monday's gem.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound southpaw faced the minimum after surrendering a one-out single to Ty Summerlin in the opening frame.
David Rubenstein reached on a fielding error by third baseman Alan Schoenberger leading off the fifth, ending a streak of 10 consecutive batters retired by Way.
But catcher Sebastian Valle nailed Rubenstein trying to steal second and Way responded by striking out Justin Byler and getting Edward Garcia to fly out. After working a perfect sixth, Way left the hill with a slim 1-0 lead.
Jeremy Barnes, Philadelphia's 11th-round pick in this year's Draft, gave Willamsport's early-season ace some breathing room with a grand slam in the bottom of the frame, paving the way for his first professional win.
"I pitched pretty well and finally got some run support," Way said. "Pretty much everything [was working for me]. I was keeping the ball down real well with the changeup and slider, mainly going with fastballs in and soft stuff away."
Projected to go earlier in the Draft, Way isn't using the snub as motivation.
"Now that the Draft is over, there's not much I can do about that," he said. "A lot of people weren't sure how I was going to pitch, coming from Alaska and all. I just want to climb the ladder to the big leagues."
"I guess in some way I'm trying to prove myself because the [Phillies'] fourth-round pick is my roommate [second baseman Adam Buschini}."
Way, who went 8-4 with a 2.43 ERA and 124 strikeouts at Washington State earlier this year, admits that he is still adjusting to the pro game, despite his early success.
"It's definitely a different style of play here, especially pitching to wood bats," he said. "I'm pitching against everybody's best players right now. The intensity goes up a little bit as far as focus."
John Torenli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.