One of the best available international arms might be bringing his high-90s fastball to St. Louis, which agreed to terms with Dominican righthander Carlos Matias for $1.5 million.
The Cardinals have Matias under contract and under reserve, but he still has to clear a few hurdles before his bonus will be paid. Matias had previously agreed to a $160,000 deal with the Red Sox but he did not pass his investigation with Major League Baseball, which suspended him for one year in March 2009. Matias still has to have his age and identity cleared by MLB and receive his visa from the U.S. consulate for the deal to be completed and to receive his bonus.
Matias has presented himself to teams as an 18-year-old with a Sept. 2, 1991 date of birth. If Matias can get his visa to come to the United States, the suspension might have turned out to be a positive for him, as his prospect stock soared when he added velocity.
At 6 feet, 165 pounds, Matias has a loose delivery and an electric fastball that can sit in the mid-90s and routinely hits 97-99 mph, according to several scouts from other organizations. Between the velocity and cutting action on his fastball, it is a true 80 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale, already one of the best fastballs at any level of baseball.
"He has outstanding control," said Moises Rodriguez, the Cardinals director of international operations. "People tend to get excited when you see velo in the high-90s, but he's throwing upper-90s with excellent control."
Matias' secondary pitches have received mixed reviews, but he throws an average mid-80s changeup with good arm speed and sink as well as a 78-80 mph curveball that flashes late break.
Because players do not need to wait to have their contracts approved by MLB to begin playing in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, according to Rodriguez, Matias is currently on the Cardinals' DSL roster. In his one appearance, Matias allowed one run in three innings, walked none and struck out six of the 12 batters he faced.
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