CHICAGO | Matt Kuna’s five-inning winning stint Monday for the Schaumburg Boomers in the independent Frontier League probably pulled even further apart the forces that govern his baseball career.
The former Griffith High School 11-letter man and valedictorian is in his second pro season. The 11-3 victory, in which he gave up two runs to the Rockford Aviators, boosted his record to 6-3 with a 2.65 ERA. He's the second-winningest pitcher on the Boomers.
On one hand, 24-year-old right-hander has choices in life. Putting aside job offers, he opted to continue pitching in hopes of moving up in baseball.
On the other hand, he’s realistic. He’s a control pitcher without a blazing fastball. If he was left-handed, great. But right-handers who can’t throw 94 miles per hour usually don’t impress scouts.
“Let’s give it one more year, one good shot, let it all hang out,” Kuna said of his stance about pitching his first full season with the Boomers. “See what happens. Coming from college, I had a half season here (in 2012).
“I know how professional-affiliated clubs are going to look at me. I don’t light up the radar gun and I don’t put up the big strikeout numbers. This is probably as far as I’ll make it. I’m OK with it, because I still love the game. I’m from Griffith and my family can watch me.”
If the convenience of playing close to home is a big motivating factor, why didn't he pursue a career with the RailCats so father Rick Kuna and the entire family would have a short, stress-free drive to see him pitch?
“It would have been nice to play 10 minutes from my house,” said Kuna, who graduated from the University of Toledo last year. “At the same time, there are four (Frontier League) teams in the Chicago area.”
“If I had played for a team like Gary, the American Association is from Canada to Texas. That’s a huge league. I can’t complain about our travel here.”
As it is, the Kuna family are constantly at his side no matter where he pitches. Rick Kuna’s parents and other relatives live near Joliet, so they always see him pitch at Silver Cross Field. The elder Kuna, knowing his son’s doubts about pitching beyond this season, is determined to see as many games as he can.
“I think he’s at the point where he’s 25, and had a double major in family business and entrepreneurship,” Rick Kuna said. “He was offered jobs out of school. One of his professors wanted him to work in his asset management company.”
Matt Kuna sounds like someone who will establish himself in business and coach on the side. He already helps out junior varsity pitchers at Griffith in the offseason. He also provided offseason instruction at the White Sox Academy at the Omni in Schererville.
“Matt really had an effect on those kids,” Rick Kuna said. “One at the Sox Academy went to him, and Matt gave him a lesson on his day off.”
“Maybe I won’t be a head coach,” Matt Kuna added. “Maybe I’ll be a volunteer coach. I loved to give back to my high school.”