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July 22, 2014

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

What Did I Miss: Steven Matz

by Jason Parks


Steven Matz was selected in the second round of the 2009 draft out of Ward Melville High School in East Setauket, NY, which is apparently a breeding ground for notable names, ranging from sporadically funny and continuously fat comedian/actor Kevin James, wrestler Mick Foley, former co-host of America’s Funniest Home Videos John Fugelsang, and Terrance Hobbs, lead guitarist for the death metal band Suffocation. Because of these notable names on his high school’s resume, and more importantly, his southpaw potential on the mound, Matz received a bonus of $895K, almost half a million over the recommend slot. The future was bright.

Unfortunately for Matz, setback arrived before success, as the young lefty’s pitching elbow fell victim to the knife in his first professional spring. Tommy John has a way of limiting the present while also obscuring the future, and when an unproven arm like Matz falls to injury before establishing his prospect bona fides, the journey back to legitimacy is a very long road that must first pass through good health and relevancy. This was 2010. Matz wouldn’t throw his first professional pitch until the summer of 2012.

It wasn’t until the 2013 season that Matz established himself as a legit prospect, which is to say he was finally healthy and showing the necessary physical qualities to project to the major-league level. I was slow to jump on the bandwagon because I had completely forgotten about the player, and to be honest, 22-year-olds pitching well in Low-A aren’t exactly the type of feathers that usually tickle my fancy. But this is where I lost my way from an evaluation standpoint, and it’s important to recognize such a flaw in the process in order to avoid similar pitfalls in the future.

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Related Content:  Prospects,  Scouting,  Minor Leaguers

15 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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poorlittlefool
(426)

Are you second-guessing the inclusion of Molina at number 10?

Jul 22, 2014 03:13 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

No. I'm suggesting Matz should have been on the list. Puello was probably the biggest stretch. That was just tool-based love overriding reality.

Jul 22, 2014 05:30 AM
 
Sharky

Jason, kudos to you on your continued openness to self-criticism / swlf-evaluation (and sharing of it with the internet public). Impressive.

Jul 22, 2014 04:19 AM
rating: 7
 
Peter Benedict

This is my favorite of your self-critical articles. Well done.

Jul 22, 2014 05:41 AM
rating: 1
 
Dave from Pittsburgh

These are always my favorite articles. Hilarious self assessment

Jul 22, 2014 05:46 AM
rating: 1
 
NYCRuss

Jason, when you say that Matz is a "future mid-rotation pitcher," is that his ceiling, or likely outcome?

Jul 22, 2014 06:47 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Both? Seems like safe 3/4 type; ceiling slightly higher (2/3).

Jul 22, 2014 07:07 AM
 
chidavidi

Thanks Jason, what do you see as the main difference between Matz and a guy like Daniel Norris who seems to have a fairly similar profile?

Jul 22, 2014 07:35 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Good question. Check out a recent scouting report on Norris from Chris Mellen. On the scouting side, the profiles are similar:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=186

Jul 22, 2014 08:49 AM
 
chidavidi

What do you make of those sources who say he's at same level as Syndergaard? Are they just super low on Thor, way too high on Matz or is there some actual legitimacy to that?

Jul 22, 2014 07:38 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Everybody sees the game through a different lens, so its hard to say if someone is either too high or too low on a prospect (within reason). Personally, I wouldn't mention Matz in the same breath as Noah, simply because of the ceiling/potential that comes with Syndergaard. But what if a scout didn't get a good start out of Syndergaard, and doesn't believe in the ceiling? If that same source put good eyes on Matz and believes in the now, I can see a case for his personal ranking of the two. It all comes down to what you see and what you believe. If you see Matz as a future #3, its not crazy to suggest they have similar value.

Jul 22, 2014 08:53 AM
 
UTRMHefferan

Great, great read Jason.

Jul 22, 2014 08:28 AM
rating: 0
 
billshiers

I think age relative to level is significantly less important for pitching prospects if they have the stuff (significantly, the velocity).

Jul 22, 2014 08:33 AM
rating: 1
 
AZMarkS

I was low on Matz as well. Not because he didn't have good stuff, but because he had 3 years of injuries behind him. Prior to this year, he had been drafted in 2009 and and only had 106 innings above rookie ball by the start of 2014. I think some healthy skepticism was deserved until there was a bigger body of work to judge him on.

I don't blame you for not putting him on the Mets Top 10 list, since I wouldn't have either.

Jul 22, 2014 09:16 AM
rating: 0
 
casejud

I like your last paragraph, a lot. You can miss obvious things by looking at a prospect from a far, and just checking off boxes that make for a good prospect.

I also think, it can go the other way, if one isn't skilled at knowing what one is seeing, like the overall ranking of Rougned Odor coming up, for instance.

Good report on Matz, JP.

Jul 22, 2014 12:21 PM
rating: 0
 
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