Latrobe native J.J. Matijevic received his first callup to Major League Baseball on Tuesday, April 20, when the Houston Astros selected his contract.
Matijevic stands six feet tall and weighs 206 pounds. He graduated from Norwin High School in 2014, and was drafted by the Red Sox in the 22nd round that year. He opted to go to the University of Arizona instead, before signing with the Astros as a third-round pick in 2017.
Matijevic primarily split time between first base and the outfield in the minor leagues. A lefty batter, he slashed .310/.420/1.134 in 11 games for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, this season.
When star second baseman Jose Altuve went on the 10-day Injured List with a hamstring strain, the Astros gave Matijevic the call, giving him a chance to make his case for a major league spot and end his challenging journey through the minors: Matijevic was suspended 50 games in 2019 after two positive tests for a ‘drug of abuse,’ and detailed his experience in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“The down time was tough, but I take pride in being a very mentally strong human being, and I just did my best to stay as positive as possible through it all,” Matijevic said. “What I learned was that life is more (than) about baseball. Life is about learning and overcoming adversity, so what I do is take each day and do my best to learn more and become the best JJ that I can be.”
Speaking with the Houston media after his callup, Matijevic described his family’s reaction to the long-awaited moment.
“My mom cried. My dad was so excited…he didn’t really know what to say,” Matijevic said. “It’s something that we’d always talk about, and it’s happening, so it’s awesome.”