Former Cal Poly standout and current Philadelphia Phillies minor league prospect Matt Imhof may have thrown the final pitch of his professional baseball career.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Imhof suffered a potentially career-threatening eye injury last week while performing a routine stretching routine following a game with the Class A Clearwater Threshers.
On Thursday morning, Imhof posted a detailed message on his personal Instagram page, informing friends and family of the unexpected accident. A rubber resistance band that was anchored to the wall with a mounted brace broke off and hit him in the head, Imhof said, “resulting in a fractured nose, two fractured orbital bones and, most significantly, the loss of vision in my right eye.”
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The Threshers were playing a road game against the Brevard County Manatees, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, when the incident occurred. The former second-round pick by Philadelphia in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft was taken to the emergency room and later transferred to the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida.
Doctors told Imhof the damage to his eye was extreme and “essentially that my eye had been crushed like a grape.” After undergoing an initial surgery that yielded little change, Imhof spoke to his family and doctors and decided to have his right eye removed and a prosthetic inserted in its place.
Imhof said in the Instagram post he is currently in Miami recovering from Tuesday’s procedure and is doing well.
“This has been the hardest week of my life,” Imhof said. “But I’ve had amazing support from my family and friends to help me get through it.”
Before the injury occurred last Friday, Imhof held a 3.91 ERA in 14 games with Clearwater this season. He recently was moved from a starting role to the bullpen, and had 48 strikeouts against 43 walks to his credit in his third year of professional baseball.
When Imhof was drafted by the Phillies in 2014, one of six Mustangs selected that year, he received a signing bonus of nearly $1.2 million. He seemed optimistic in the Instagram post, which included a photo of Imhof in a hospital bed with a large bandage over his right eye.
“I just wanted to write this message to let everyone know that even though I suffered some bad luck, I’m not dead,” Imhof said. “I’m gonna be alright, I’m gonna persevere, and I’m gonna succeed. It takes more than this to bring me down.”