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Oh Yeah, That Guy: Matthew Budgell

You might not remember Matthew Budgell, but he had an excellent week back in 2012.

Matthew Budgell
Bryan Green

August 23 to August 29 (2012): 1 G (0 GS), 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, HBP

Born on September 30, 1992 in Beverly, Massachusetts, Matthew Budgell was drafted by the Mets in the 10th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Woodbridge High School, a public school in Irvine, California. A shortstop until he was an upperclassman, the right-hander took to pitching fairly quickly. In his senior season that spring, he posted a 4.02 ERA in 40.0 innings pitched, allowing 48 hits, walking 18, and striking out 33. Budgell was eventually signed for $225,000, the third-largest bonus given to any player in the 10th round in 2011. Though part of that sum was to buy him out of his commitment to Cal State Fullerton, the Mets saw promise in the lanky 6’3”, 150-pound prep pitcher and envisioned his 90 MPH fastball and slurvy high-70s curveball growing into two legitimate pitches.

The 18-year-old was assigned to the GCL Mets and closed out the 2011 season there posting a 5.74 ERA in 15.2 innings, allowing 18 hits, walking 5, and striking out 10. Over the course of the season, he developed a sinker and changeup. In February 2012, just prior to spring training, he broke his pinky, but the right-hander suffered no ill effects from the injury and the subsequent surgery to ensure that it healed properly. He was assigned to the Kingsport Mets for the season and posted a 0.87 ERA in 20.2 innings- all out of the bullpen- allowing 17 hits, walking 10, and striking out 16.

Just prior to the start of the 2013 season, Budgell announced that he was retiring from baseball. As he would later going on to characterize this period of his life as, “the most miserable and lost I have ever been in my life.” Problems that his father was going through at the time certainly influenced his decision, but Budgell’s ongoing battles with depression was the driving force behind his choice to leave baseball behind and start fresh.

The Mets did not completely cut ties with the 20-year-old and kept in touch with him throughout the year. The right-hander decided to give baseball a second chance and was invited to come to spring training. His return to the mound was delayed slightly because of back issues that he was dealing with, but when he was able to finally pitch, he felt good and was excited for the 2014 season. Curiously, as spring training ended and the 2014 season began, he was not assigned to any of the Mets short or full-season teams. As it turns out, the young right-hander was apparently suspended for missing a curfew during extended spring training and filed a grievance against the Mets. After a legal back-and-forth with the club, Budgell was granted his free agency.

While he seemed to have plans to continue pitching professionally, he never did. In 2013, just prior to his release, Budgell became involved in WakeUpNow, a multi-level marketing pyramid scheme that sold products and services focused on health and financial management. In late 2014, just after his release, he became involved with Redline Athletics as a pitching and hitting coach at their Lake Forest, California location. After that, he worked as a janitor. More recently, he has been involved helping his mother, a former accounts executive who founded Straight from the HeArts Studio in 2018. The studio creates jewelry formed from water marbling, a painting technique involving dropping oil paint into clear water and creating a pattern on the water surface and allowing it to set and dry.

While not directly involved, Budgell was indirectly involved bizarre situation involving Tampa Bay Rays 2011 first-round pick Brandon Martin. Using the $860,000 signing bonus that he received from Tampa, Martin and other players rented a 6,700-square-foot Yorba Linda mansion for $6,000 a month, a bachelor pad that the police were very aware of due to dozens and dozens of calls over the years for a variety of reasons. According to Budgell, who was living with Martin for some portion of that time, “Things got a bit out of hand in that house. We were doing cocaine, drinking all the time…We tried coke for the first time together. Then it was more coke, more coke for him. I think it might’ve been a necessity thing. You keep doing it long enough and coke is not enough. You want to get higher.” Martin, whose drug use had clearly exacerbated underlying mental issues, had multiple run ins with the police in 2015 for physically assaulting his mother and father which culminated in his apparent murder of Michael Martin, his father, Ricky Andersen, his brother-in-law, and Barry Swanson, a local contractor who his parents had hired to install a security system to protect them from their own son. For the triple murder, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty.

Budgell was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer in January and after undergoing surgery to remove the cancerous tumors, began undergoing chemotherapy, which he completed this past June. During that time, he left his home in Oahu, Hawaii and moved back to California with his family and got married. Ever the optimist, whatever Budgell chooses to do next, he will do it on his own terms, tackling any all challenges with his characteristic positivity and zeal for life.