NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk native Matt Iannazzo finished up his first season in professional baseball on Sunday, and it hardly could have gone any better for the left-handed pitcher.
Iannazzo, who signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs organization in June, earned two promotions and pitched in 14 games.
“It went well,’’ Iannazzo said. “I learned a lot about pitching at the professional level.”
Iannazzo finished last year with a team-record 28 victories at the University of Pittsburgh. When the Major League Draft came in early June, however, he was not selected. His size, 5-feet, 9-inches, hurt him. All he wanted was an opportunity, and the Cubs gave it to him. He did the rest.
He finished with a 1-2 record with a 4.32 ERA in 14 games with three minor league teams affiliated with the Cubs. He started with the team in the Arizona League and also pitched in Boise in the Northwest League. He finished with a flourish in Daytona, allowing no runs and only three hits in 5 1/3 innings over three games.
“When you’re a 5-9 lefthander signed as a free agent, there are not a lot of expectations," Iannazzo said. "All of my teammates and coaches were asking me what round I was drafted in. When I told them I wasn’t, they were shocked. It was kind of nice to have other people thinking that I should’ve been drafted, and that it wasn’t just something I was thinking.”
“My family and I were thinking about the draft,’’ Iannazzo said. “All we wanted was an opportunity. We wanted a shot to prove, even to myself, that I could do it. When you get the opportunity, that’s what defines you.”
The pitcher will spend most of September in Norwalk visiting friends and family. He’ll train with former teammates at Pitt over the winter, and report to the Cubs’ camp in the spring. “I had about 10 months in a row of baseball,’’ he said. “I don’t mind, it’s something I love to do. I love to show up at the ballfield and get to work. Some people might complain about it, but it’s something I love to do.”