Steven Matz Makes Baseball America’s South Atlantic League Top 20 List

By Danny Abriano

Left handed starting pitcher Steven Matz, who spent the 2013 season with Savannah, has made Baseball America’s list of the top 20 prospects in the South Atlantic League.  Matz checked in at #20.

April 4, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Mets third baseman David Wright (not pictured) glove, hat and sunglasses lay in the dugout during the spring training game against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Although Matz made the list, also notable are the omissions of right handed pitcher Gabriel Ynoa (who was the Mets’ minor league pitcher of the year), outfielder Brandon Nimmo, and shortstop Dilson Herrera (who the Mets acquired from Pittsburgh in the Marlon Byrd/John Buck trade.

However, the omission of Ynoa, Nimmo, and Herrera, is due to the ridiculous depth of high ceiling players in the South Atlantic League.  Ynoa, Nimmo, and Herrera are all legit prospects (Keith Law noted recently that Nimmo may be on his minor league top 100 list).  Now, let’s focus on the player who did make the list.

Matz, a 22 year old native of Long Island, was drafted 79th overall by the Mets in 2009.  His minor league career was derailed by injuries until 2012.  This year for Low-A Savannah, Matz had a breakthrough campaign.

In 21 games started over 106.1 innings, Matz had an ERA of 2.62 and a 1.17 WHIP.  He struck out 121 batters (a rate of 10.24 per 9), walked 38, and gave up just 4 home runs.  At 22, Matz was a bit old for the league, but that was due to the fact that his development was derailed by injuries until recently.

If he can stay healthy, Matz has a chance to be special.  His fastball sits in the low to mid-90’s, and touches 96.  According to Baseball America, Matz at times flashes three plus pitches – his fastball, curve, and changeup.

If the Mets don’t add Matz to the 40-man roster during the offseason, he’ll be eligible for the Rule V draft.  While it’s uncertain if a team would claim Matz and stash him on the major league roster (as a reliever) all season, the Mets would be wise to protect him.  Left handed starters who throw in the mid 90’s and have the potential to harness three plus pitches don’t grow on trees.

Matz will likely open the 2014 campaign with High-A St. Lucie.

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