JJ Matijevic only appeared in two games with the Houston Astros during his first callup to the majors back in April, going 0 for 5 with three strikeouts before getting sent back to Triple-A Sugar Land. He returned to the big-league club on June 15, but still hadn’t registered his first MLB hit until Sunday night.
And it was a big one.
The former Arizona Wildcats infielder smacked a solo home run to the opposite field in the fourth inning of Houston’s 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox.
First of many MLB home runs for @TweetinJ_23! #BearDown pic.twitter.com/INXiSZPIb9— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) June 20, 2022
The homer landed in the famed Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park, with 16-year-old Astros fan Rylan Freeman ending up with the milestone ball. Then the negotiating began.
When all was said and done, Matijevic got the ball he knocked out of the park and Freeman got a bunch of swag, including a signed jersey from Houston pitcher Justin Verlander.
16-year-old Rylan Freeman of Corpus got a signed Justin Verlander jersey for coming up with J.J. Matijevic’s first career homer. Verlander signed it “Nice catch.” Freeman, a pitcher on a high school team that won the 3A state title this month, idolizes Verlander. pic.twitter.com/9Eq1zcjXmu— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) June 20, 2022
Matijevic, 26, played at Arizona from 2015-17, helping the Wildcats reach the College World Series championship series in 2016 and then bat .383 as a junior. That led to Houston taking him in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft.