Lost In The Shuffle: Steven Matz

By Andrew Battifarano

June 18th could end up being the turning point for a Mets team who has had little to celebrate since the 2009 season. Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler look like they could end up being one of the strongest 1-2 pitching combos in all baseball. They both have power stuff, and can electrify a crowd, which is something the Mets haven’t had out of a pitcher arguably since the days of Dwight Gooden. Not only does the franchise boast Wheeler and Harvey, they also have prospects Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard looming in the minors, getting primed for their big league debuts in the near future.

Jun 18, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) throws a pitch against the Atlanta Braves in the second inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

While the Mets have these four young arms that everyone seems to know and discuss, there is one who is seemingly forgot about, and was top pick only a few short years ago. This is the Long Island native Steven Matz.

The club did not have a first round pick in 2009, as they signed Francisco Rodriguez, forfeiting their pick to the Angels, and did not have a pick until the number 72 slot. In that spot the Mets ended up choosing the left handed Matz. The young pitcher excelled at Ward Melville High School, and in his senior year was arguably the best pitcher on the Island. With his 94 mph fastball, he compiled a 6-1 record and a 0.47 ERA, while striking out 81 batters in his 44 innings of work.

Matz ended up signing with the club and looked primed to make his professional debut in 2010. Despite all of this, Matz ran into elbow issues that required Tommy John Surgery which shut him down for all of 2010. He tried to start up in 2011 but the elbow flared up again and he had to sit out that season as well, a very auspicious start for the pitching prospect.

Finally in 2012, Matz made his professional start with the Kingsport Mets. In his six starts with Kingsport, Matz went 2-1 and had an excellent 1.55 ERA. He struck out 34 hitters in 29 innings of work and kept hitters to a .158 average in his first minor league season.

This season Matz is with the Savannah Sand Gnats and has pitched well. In his 11 starts thus far, he’s gone 2-3 with a 2.88 ERA. In his 50 innings of work, Matz has struck out 56 batters.

In his last start on June 14th when the Sand Gnats clinched the Southern Division First Half Title in extra innings, Matz pitched 5.1 innings, fanning 10 hitters, and only allowing four base runners on two singles and two walks.

While the discussion of pitching prospects has not included Matz very much, it could start to if he continues to have the success that he’s had early on in his Minor League career. While he may never be as good as a Wheeler or a Harvey, the Mets could have solid lefty pitcher, one that could be useful to the organization, either as part of the pitching staff or a trade chip for a bat.