Backman says Steven Matz is best Mets pitching prospect
During Sunday’s Queens Baseball Convention at McFadden’s Citi Field, Triple-A Las Vegas manager Wally Backman heaped some serious praise on Steven Matz.
While speaking on a panel moderated by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Backman said the following:
"I think Steven Matz is the best pitching prospect that we have…for me, he’s untouchable."
Barring something odd happening, Matz, 23 is set to open the 2015 season with Backman at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Matz split last season between High-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton, pitching tremendously during both stops but actually improving his peripherals after reaching Double-A.
In 69.1 innings pitched (12 starts) for St. Lucie, Matz posted a 2.21 ERA and 1.25 WHIP while striking out 8.05 per 9 and walking 2.73 per 9.
In 71.1 innings pitched (12 starts) for Binghamton, Matz posted a 2.27 ERA and 1.12 WHIP while striking out 8.71 per 9 and walking 1.77 per 9.
Ever since Matz put his arm troubles behind him in 2013, he’s been fantastic, with his major league debut likely to come at some point in 2015.
Backman’s comments on Saturday were interesting not because of the praise he had for Matz, but because he ranked Matz ahead of Noah Syndergaard, the Mets’ consensus number one pitching prospect (and one of the highest-rated pitching prospects in baseball).
Matz features a fastball that sits between 92 and 95 MPH and touches the high 90s at times, a solid changeup, and an improving curve that he also uses a fair amount of the time. That’s a legitimate arsenal.
Still, to rank Matz ahead of Syndergaard is eye-opening, and is another sign of just how Matz is viewed by most inside the organization.
With Matz showing how much potential he has, the views of many scouts have evolved as well, with Keith Law of ESPN (who was convinced early in 2014 that Matz should be a reliever) having bought in and now considering Matz a number three type starter.
The view Law has of Matz (very good mid-rotation starter) is a view most scouts have, but there’s clearly room for upside here.
Lefties who throw in the mid to high-90s with two other solid to above average offerings are extremely rare, and it’ll be very interesting to see how Matz adjusts to the competition and adverse conditions at Triple-A Las Vegas.