The “International Star” for March 2016 is Right-Handed Pitcher Matteo Bocchi, from Parma Italy, currently in his first year at Odessa College in Texas. Matteo was a member of the Italian Junior National Team and also participated in the MLB European Elite Academy before coming to the U.S. in October 2014 to attend the International Stars College Showcase.
As of March 30th, Matteo has helped lead the Odessa Wranglers to an impressive 18-11 overall record and 8-4 record in one of the most competitive Junior College conferences in the country. Matteo has pitched in 7 games so far, starting 5 of them, and recording 3 wins. Matteo earned his first college win in the U.S. on February 27th against Cisco College by going 6 innings and striking out 10.
In his 3 appearances this month (March), Matteo has pitched 14 innings, yielding just 4 earned runs and 3 walks while striking out 10 batters and picking up 2 more wins to bring his season record to 3-0. Overall Matteo is 2nd on his team with 29 innings pitched, 2nd in strikeouts with 32, and has 2 complete games as well. Needless to say it’s been a successful transition on the field for this International Star!
We had a chance to ask Matteo a few questions about his experiences going from Italy to the States to play college baseball. Click on the “Read More” link to see his interview about college baseball life.
BBI: Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day during the college baseball season to answer some questions. First, can you tell us what a typical day is like for you at Odessa and what your baseball schedule is like?
Matteo: Wake up at 8AM, workout, school, dinner, practice, lunch, TV and go sleep around midnight. [There is] practice and workout 5 times a week, 2-4 games a week, and extra training almost every day.
BBI: So how many hours of baseball activity per day?
Matteo: 4-5 hours a day.
BBI: And how are the baseball practices and games different than back home in Italy?
Matteo: I think that the practice at Odessa College is very similar to the practice I do in Italy. The biggest difference is the time… but I do not think it’s harder here [in America] because practice every day keeps your body active, and so I never feel tired. Also the competition is better and they play more games than the Europeans do.
BBI: With all this extra practice and games have any baseball skills improved for you?
Matteo: I’ve improved my velocity, control and change-up.
BBI: Do you see a difference in the attitudes of the baseball players in America?
Matteo: People don’t [care] if they are loosing by 1, 5 or 20 runs, they keep playing to score as many runs as they can.
BBI: Tell us about your teammates, it must be different for them having a teammate from Italy?
Matteo: Yes, they are jealous that I can speak Italian and Spanish so they mock me…I’m teaching them only bad words, and they say my name in thousands of different ways.
BBI: What’s the hardest adjustment about living in America?
BBI: What about the FOOD?
Matteo: The differences are that the food in Italy always taste good, while here it doesn’t ahah. American[s] try to be chefs and create… instead of just cook easy food which always taste good.
BBI: And what’s the funniest thing you’ve seen while going to college in America?
Matteo: People who go school with pajamas.
BBI: You participated in 2014 College Showcase in Washington DC… What was your experience like with the International Stars and would you recommend it for other European players?
Matteo: Everything was fun – stay in the hotel, play baseball, practice, go eat with the team go to the [Washington Nationals] stadium. The experience gave me the opportunity to play college baseball because college are in America and coaches cannot travel to Europe to recruit players. If European players want to play college baseball they have to join this experience.
BBI: Congratulations to Matteo for his success so far at Odessa College and we thank him for taking the time to answer questions about his experiences there. Don’t forget, if you’re an international baseball player interested in playing college baseball in the U.S., every October the International Stars program holds a showcase in the U.S. (Phoenix Arizona in 2016) that college coaches from across the country attend. Message us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.