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Tournaments | Story | 6/24/2021

Delaney Feels Right At Home On The Road

Sam Warren        
Photo: Matthew Delaney (Delaney family)
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Among the field of highly-touted talent that frequents Fort Myers area ballparks over the summer for Perfect Game events, it’s common to see rosters full of the best players from Florida, Puerto Rico and other surrounding states and territories. However, for Gulf Coast Monarchs 14u player Matthew Delaney, home is almost 2,000 miles away from the western shores of Florida, despite frequenting the region to play the game he loves.
 
Delaney, a right-handed pitcher and corner infielder in the class of 2025, is a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico. While Delaney plays for several highly-ranked squads in the Southwest, he chose to head east at the beginning of June and join the Monarchs, the 12th-ranked 14u team nationally, for the 2021 BCS National Championship Qualifier. After quickly getting to know his new teammates, Delaney’s mind promptly shifted to the opportunity at hand and getting to work.
 
“It’s really great meeting new players, especially when they’re really good,” Delaney said. “I get to travel a lot and get new experiences everywhere, but you want to be seen as a baseball player, so I have to lock in once it’s time to go.”
 
When Delaney’s name was called to take the mound for the first time for the Monarchs, he emphatically showed the locals what the kid from across the country could do. Getting the start in the Monarchs’ second game of the qualifier, Delaney retired the PR Legends 14u Black in order in the top of the first, striking out two in the process and only needing nine pitches to do so. Delaney said that his hot start helped him settle into the game and his new team.
 
“It gave me a lot of confidence to shut those first guys down,” Delaney said. “Coming out here against new competition, I didn’t really know what to expect. The first few batters are normally the best players, so striking out those guys let me know I could pitch through the rest of the team as well.”
 
Delaney’s confidence shined throughout the rest of the outing. Hurling a strike rate of 72%, Delaney retired the side in order again in the second and third inning, fanning two more Legends batters while not allowing a single baserunner. After being relieved in the third inning, Delaney and Jackson Geiger combined for a four-inning no-hitter, as the Monarchs mercy-ruled the Legends, 14-0. Despite the new team, Delaney said he carried the same mindset into his first start for the Monarchs.
 
“I always make sure to hit my spots in the bullpen so I’m ready for the game,” Delaney said. “Once I’m there, I know my fastball is on, and I just work on finding the zone with my pitches.”
 
Delaney made his second appearance for the Monarchs in a tightly-contested semifinal battle against the 5 Tool Titans with a championship birth on the line. Coming in as relief in the pivotal seventh inning, Delaney stepped up, retiring two and striking out one in an innings work en route to a Monarchs victory. The Monarchs proceeded to win the BCS National Qualifier title, and Delaney earned All-Tournament Team honors for his dominant play. After a victorious weekend, Delaney was happy with both his own performance and his team’s remarkable display.
 
“I always like to make a good impression, and I think I did that with my coaches this weekend,” Delaney said. “It’s also great to know I have such a strong team to play with.”
 
While there isn’t much connecting the two states geographically, Delaney’s journey from New Mexico to Florida wasn’t random. Delaney was born in the Sunshine State and lived there before moving to New Mexico four years ago. When looking for teams to play for this summer, Delaney’s father connected with an old friend from Florida whose son was on the Monarchs and put the Delaney’s in contact with the coach, where Matthew later earned a roster spot. With a triumphant experience in the Qualifier, Delaney is happy with the decision he made for the summer.
 
“It’s great to play in a tournament like that because there are some great teams there, and to win was even better,” Delaney said. “The Monarchs have some really great coaches, and they’ve got some great defense and hitting that makes it really easy on me as a pitcher.”
 
Delaney still has family and good friends in the Fort Myers area, so he was excited for an opportunity to spend time on the Gulf Coast for the next few months. However, Delaney’s move was more focused on factors on the field.
 
“There are some good teams we play here in New Mexico all the time, and sometimes we travel further out for good competition,” Delaney said. “In Florida, there’s so many great teams and players there, so it’s not hard to find good competition.”
 
While Delaney’s seen an uptick in opposing production as he settles into Florida, he has made great strides in his own improvement as well. Delaney has increased his fastball velocity by 11 mph in less than a year, now reaching 80 mph, putting him in the 94th percentile of 2025 arms. Delaney said that velocity had been a point of emphasis in his training, and he’s worked incredibly hard to increase his explosiveness.
 
“I’ve been able to locate my pitches really well ever since I started pitching, so working on velo will let me hit my spots even harder,” Delaney said. “I’ve been doing a lot of weighted ball training, long toss and bullpens, along with working out has really helped out my arm strength.”
 
While it’s not uncommon for young players to play for multiple teams over the summer, Delaney’s ability to join a team and quickly mesh with his coaches and teammates is something he takes pride in. Along with meeting new people, Delaney said that playing for new teams gives him confidence and validation in his performance on the field.
 
“Going in and pitching for teams, it’s fun to have new people watch me play,” Delaney said. “Normally, I pitch well for them, so it makes me feel good to help out my new teams.”
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