Saints Add Their Fifth-Round Player Dispersal Draft Pick, Explorers All-Star Closer Matt Pobereyko
ST. PAUL, MN - The St. Paul Saints took a flier with their fifth and final pick in the American Association Dispersal Draft. Matt Pobereyko, an All-Star closer for the Sioux City Explorers in 2019, had decided to return to coaching with the Indiana Oilmen in the Midwest Collegiate League and was not planning on playing in 2020. That flier is paying off as Pobereyko has decided to join the Saints for the final five weeks of the season.
The 28-year-old Pobereyko was impressive last season with the Explorers going 1-4 with a 3.18 ERA and 24 saves in 47 games. In 51.0 innings pitched he walked 14 and struck out 74 while opponents hit a miniscule .179 against him. He finished the season first in the league in appearances and games finished (42), tied for third in saves, and fourth in reliever points (66). He was selected to the American Association All-Star Game held at CHS Field. Pobereyko had two lengthy scoreless streaks not allowing a run in 10 straight appearances, 12.0 innings, from June 19-July 14 and then 11 straight appearances, 10.1 innings, from July 19-August 6. Overall, Pobereyko didn't allow a run in 39 of 47 appearances. His most impressive outing was a 4.0 inning shutout performance striking out six on August 22 against Cleburne. He helped get the Explorers to the Finals and allowed one run on one hit while striking out 13 in 7.0 playoff innings.
Pobereyko was not drafted out of Kentucky Wesleyan in 2013 and elected to coach the Oilmen. He then joined a pay for play league, the California Winter League in 2016 and from there was signed by the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League. He went 0-2 with a 1.33 ERA in 20 games. In 20.1 innings pitched he walked 10 and struck out 31 while opponents hit just .141 against him. He did not allow an earned run (one unearned run) over 13 straight relief appearances, 13.1 innings, from May 20-June 19. He struck out at least one batter in his first 14 professional relief appearances (21 strikeouts in 14.1 innings pitched). He was so impressive that the Arizona Diamondbacks purchased his contract on July 5. He pitched at three different levels, spending eight games with the Rookie level Arizona League Diamondbacks, two games at High-A Visalia, and five games with Low-A Hillsboro. Overall, he was 1-2 with and three saves with a 4.33 ERA in 15 games. In 27.0 innings pitched he walked 10 and struck out 36 while opponents hit .210 against him.
After being released by the Diamondbacks following spring training in 2017, Pobereyko re-signed with Florence. He went 1-1with a 1.00 ERA 10 saves in 17 games. In 18.0 innings pitched he walked five and struck out 38 while opponents hit .129 against him. Pobereyko didn't allow an earned run over his final 10 relief appearances spanning 11.2 innings. He once again impressed a Major League organization as the New York Mets purchased his contract on June 21. He spent the remainder of the season at Single-A Columbia and went 2-2 with two saves and a 3.15 ERA in 23 games. In 34.1 innings pitched he walked 14 and struck out 53 while opponents hit .205 against him. Pobereyko struck out a hitter in his first 14 straight appearances (37 strikeouts in 20.2 innings pitched) from June 22-August 6 including fanning five in 2.0 innings on July 14.
Pobereyko became a Florida State League All-Star in 2018 pitching 36 of his 41 games that season at High-A St. Lucie. With the Mets he went 2-3 with a 3.19 ERA and 10 saves in 36 games. In 48.0 innings pitched he walked 24 and struck out 55 while opponents hit .175 against him. He didn't allow a run in eight straight relief appearances, 11.1 innings, from April 26-May 24. He was then promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas and pitched in one game on May 31 giving up six runs (four earned) in 3.0 innings. He returned to St. Lucie and was there from June 10-August 21 and finished off his time throwing seven consecutive hitless, scoreless relief appearances, a total of 9.1 innings. Pobereyko finished the season at Double-A Binghamton and allowed two unearned runs in 5.1 innings while striking out six.
Pobereyko began his college career at South Suburban (IL) College in 2011. After having Tommy John surgery, he transferred to Kentucky Wesleyan where he finished 18th in NCAA with nine wins. He set the school record with 104 strikeouts, which was 10th most in NCAA in 2013. He set the single-game school record with 18 strikeouts on April 24 against Salem International.
In order to make room for the Pobereyko the Saints released outfielder Justin Byrd.
The Saints have the league maximum 23 players on the roster, 12 pitchers and 11 position players.
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