Weight: 192 lbs.
Steven Matz finally put together a full season in professional baseball last year, which was an encouraging sign in itself. Even more encouraging was the extent of the success he had. In 106.1 IP, Matz blew away hitters with 121 K’s, a 2.62 ERA, and a 1.17 WHIP. He currently throws his fastball from 90-94 mph, which is very encouraging coming from a lefty. He could even add more velocity as he gains more strength going forward. He scrapped his mediocre slider and added a curveball to his arsenal instead. It is inconsistent at the moment but has the chance to be an above average pitch when all is said and done. He also has an impressive changeup that could become an above average pitch in the future as well.
Matz’s command became a tad shaky as last season progressed but that’s completely understandable considering he threw more innings last season than any other by a wide margin. There have been some concerns about his mechanics and delivery, which could land him in the bullpen if they are not fixed. One concern I noted in multiple scouting reports was that after he releases the ball, his delivery comes to an abrupt stop. This is and the fact that he tends to use his arm more than he has to could cause more injuries as innings pile up. Kinks that need to worked out in his delivery should not be too worrisome just yet, however, because he’s still pitching in A ball and as he climbs the ladder, they should be worked out. Something as simple as a follow through could probably be fixed fairly easily with a good pitching coach.
Outlook: Matz will almost certainly begin the season in St. Lucie and might even end it in AA since he is already 22 years old. If he can stay healthy for another full season, the organization will be that much more inclined to put him through the system at a faster pace than normal so he could theoretically make his debut sometime in the second half of 2015. Matz is already the best southpaw the Mets have in their organization so if he has the kind of success this upcoming season as he did in Savannah last year, he will continue to climb top prospect lists in a hurry. His fastball is likely to add some velocity as he gains strength and his secondary pitches will become more refined as he throws more innings. As a lefty, a mid 90’s fastball with above average secondary pitches is enough to be successful in the middle of a rotation or higher. However, if Matz does not polish up his mechanics as he climbs the minor leagues, he could end up in the bullpen if the organization decides that’s best to keep his health in check; kind of like what the White Sox tried to do with Chris Sale before he proved himself in the starting rotation. However, with improved command and mechanics, his three pitch mix is more than enough to allow him to stick as a starter.
(Photo Credit: Brett Carlsen/The New York Times)