As a kid growing up in Newport Beach, Matthew Hauser played football and baseball.
His father, Peter, had played football and encouraged his son to play that sport, but eventually the younger Hauser decided to stick with baseball after he played football as a freshman in high school.
“I just always liked baseball best," Hauser told Patch. "My dad actually wanted me to play football; he played football in junior college."
That decision to focus on baseball appears to have paid off for Hauser, 24, who played Little League baseball in Corona del Mar and then at the University of San Diego as a right-handed pitcher after graduating from Corona del Mar High in 2006.
He was drafted in the 10th round by the Minnesota Twins in 2010 and was recently promoted to the Class AA Eastern League after posting an impressive ERA of 2.81 in 31 games earlier this season for Ft. Myers in the high Class A Florida State League. Hauser threw his first game for the New Britain (CT) Rock Cats on July 29 at Reading and allowed one earned run in two innings of work.
The Newport Beach native pitched in one game last season for New Britain, but he had seven saves for Ft. Myers and five for Beloit in the low Class A Midwest League in 2011.
“I have always liked Hauser. I like the way he competes,” said New Britain manager Jeff Smith, who also had Hauser last season with the Rock Cats.
Hauser was listed as the seventh-best right-handed reliever in the Minnesota system prior to this year by Baseball America, an industry leader. He is ranked as the No. 17 prospect in the Minnesota system, according to MLB.com
“We like him. He throws a good hard slider, sinker and now a change up,” said New Britain pitching coach Stu Cliburn, a former big leaguer with the Angels from 1984-88. “He is doing really well.”
The next step up the ladder in the Minnesota system is with Rochester in the Class AAA International League and that is the top affiliate of the Twins. Hauser played in high school with Jake Lemmerman, who played in college at Duke and is now an infielder at the Class AA level with the Dodgers; and Eric Eadington, a pitcher who is also a minor leaguer with the Dodgers at the Class AA level with the Chattanooga Lookouts in Tennessee.
Hauser began Little League baseball when he was about 5 or 6. His father still lives in Newport Beach and is mother is in the Dana Point area. Hauser said he has enjoyed his time in the pro ranks.
“It is kind of cool. I get to experience the East Coast and see a lot of places I would not get to see,” said Hauser, standing outside of the New Britain clubhouse before a recent game in Bowie, MD against the Baysox.
One of his few trips to the East Coast before turning pro was when Hauser played in a youth baseball tournament in Cooperstown, NY, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. His father came to Florida about a month ago and plans to be in New Britain later this month.
The Eastern League season ends in early September for New Britain, which is 59-51 in games through Wednesday and fighting for a playoff spot in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League. Hauser throws a fastball, cutter and slider and has recently added a change up to the mix.
“They have had me throw out of the pen most of my career,” he said of the Twins. “I am trying to become a better pitcher. I am having fun and trying to go as far as I can.”