Oklahoma State Baseball: Q&A with bullpen catcher Matthew Zembraski

Jun 24, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys catcher Collin Theroux (16) talks to pitcher Jensen Elliott (34) during the game against the Arizona Wildcats in the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys catcher Collin Theroux (16) talks to pitcher Jensen Elliott (34) during the game against the Arizona Wildcats in the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports /

Oklahoma State baseball junior bullpen catcher Matthew Zembraski joins Pokes Post today as we look deeper into the Cowboys 2017 season.

For the better part of the last five seasons, the Oklahoma State baseball program boasted one of the most dominant pitching staffs in the Big 12. In 2016, the Cowboy pitching rotation carried them all the way to the College World Series. Junior bullpen catcher Matthew Zembraski gets to see on a day-to-day basis, just how a good a top tier rotation can be in college baseball.

Once again, the Cowboys boast one of the best starting rotations in the conference. Preseason All-American Tyler Buffett, sophomore right-hander Jensen Elliott, and sophomore left-hander Carson Teel form a talented trio at the top of the rotation. Hopefully, pitchers like Buffett, Elliott, and Teel lead the Cowboys to another solid postseason run in 2017.

With the first OK State baseball Q&A hosted by the Pokes Post, we asked Zembraski about the start of the 2017 season, what sparked the offense in the first 11 games, and how the Cowboys could make a return to Omaha for the second consecutive year.

Now, let’s see what the junior bullpen catcher Zembraski had to say about the 2017 Oklahoma State baseball team.

Q: Andrew Miller: What felt special about OK State to you out of high school, and what other schools were you looking at/looking at you?

A: Matthew Zembraski: OSU just had this impact on me the first day I stepped on campus. To me there was just something about it that I can’t describe. It felt like home.

Q: Miller: Does head coach Josh Holliday do anything different that helps the team loosen up or get motivated that is unique from other coaches? What coaching style sets him apart?

A: Zembraski: I think it’s hard to really compare an aspect of a coach like that. Each coach really has their own way of motivating players. He uses his energy and passion for not only the game but the school, the uniform, and each of us. Having played here, his passion for this school and for this team is indescribable. The biggest thing that stands out to me most about his coaching style is his compassion for the guys. It’s one thing to be a team but he makes it a family. During losses you can see that he’s upset about the loss but you can see that he’s also upset because we didn’t play to our potential and I think that’s what hurts him the most. He’s so invested in each of the guys that when we do not play to our potential it frustrates him. Then when we do he lights up like a Christmas Tree and it’s just awesome to be around. The best part is he’s not only invested in us on the field but also in the classroom. It’s one thing to have a coach who’s committed on the field but to have a coach like him who wants us to succeed in the classroom is something very special. As a bullpen catcher it’s great cause I’m in the background and get to see everything from a different perspective than guys like [Ryan] Sluder, GMAC, Chap, and Jon [Littell]. Guys who have been in the program longer and have played many games for Josh. I see more of the bigger picture and it’s just amazing to see the level of trust between everyone. It’s honestly one big family.

Q: Miller: Which pitcher do you feel has the brightest future with OK State? In the MLB?

A: Zembraski: This is a very hard question. I say that because coach [Rob] Walton does such an amazing job with all of our pitchers. But if I have to pick one, two, or even three, I’d say Jensen Elliott for many reasons including his ability to throw in different arm slots, his great poise on the mound, and his great knowledge of the game. Catching him almost everyday in the bullpen or during flat grounds is unreal because of his command of each pitch. The movement of his pitches and just everything about him. He’s also proving himself during games. [Elliott] jumped into the starting rotation as a true freshman, earning Freshman All-American honors, and this year, so far, is no different. He’s molding into a major league caliber pitcher and I’m very excited to see what his future has in store for him.

Q: Miller: What sparked the offense so far this season that wasn’t there last year?

A: Zembraski: I’m not really sure honestly, you look at the lineup and it’s a lot of the same games who were in it last year. I think a lot of it has to do with the level of confidence and the guys’ feeling of each other. One guy gets a double or any hit and then the next guy lays down a bunt or gets a hit and you can just feel the energy. I think many of our guys have found their rhythm at the plate and it’s only going to get better.

Q: Miller: How are you guys staying motivated to make a return to Omaha this year?

A: Zembraski: I think it’s having been there and getting so close to the “Natty” that the guys who were there are eager to get back. And the freshman and new JUCO guys are buying in and feeding off that.

Q: Miller: What was the worst and best parts about having me as a dorm roommate in college?

A: Zembraski: Really, you’re a lax guy that’s all I’m going to say.

I want to thank Matt for taking the time today to take part in the first ever OK State baseball Q&A hosted by Pokes Post. Give him a follow on Twitter with the username @MZembraski. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Even with the shot he took at me and the great sport of lacrosse in the last question, Zembraski does give a great perspective into the culture of Cowboy baseball being in the unique position of a bullpen catcher.

Next: Cowboy Football pursuing graduate transfer cornerback Adrian Baker

I want to wish Zembraski the best of luck for the rest of his time with the OK State baseball program, and also the best of luck to the Pokes on their quest to return to Omaha in 2017.