First Impression




DENVER—From his stuff to his competitiveness to his work ethic, there's plenty to like about lefthander Tyler Matzek, who showed all these attributes in games in the instructional league as he began pointing toward the start of his professional career in 2010.

Matzek, 19, worked out with Rookie-level Casper in the waning weeks of the minor league season after he signed minutes before the Aug. 17 deadline and received a franchise-record $3.9 million signing bonus. Matzek faced members of the Diamondbacks' instructional league team and in the process, confirmed why the Rockies are so excited.

"Confident but not arrogant," was how player development director Marc Gustafson described Matzek, the 11th overall pick this year out of Capistrano Valley (Calif.) High.

"Not many kids come out of the high school ranks able to do what he can," roving pitching coordinator Bo McLaughlin said. "He's got real good balance and a very clean delivery for such a young age."

Matzek's first outing in the instructional league began against outfielder Conor Jackson, who was leading off each inning as he tried to work his way back from the Valley Fever that ended his season on May 11. True, Jackson hadn't competed regularly, but he does have 484 games and 1,624 at-bats on his major league resume.

Matzek struck him out on 94-96 mph fastballs in, and afterward said he had seen Jackson on television, noticed his swing was long and was going pound him inside.

"His baseball sense is also keen," said Casper pitching coach Craig Bjornson, a member of the instructional league staff. "He has a way to watch the game already, which is what you're really developing in a lot of the younger pitchers. He's advanced for his age, definitely."

ROCKY ROADS

• Shortstop Helder Velazquez played in games in instructional league. Scheduled to play at high Class A Modesto, Velazquez missed the entire 2009 season with a broken left femur sustained in a car accident a few days before he was scheduled to leave his native Puerto Rico for spring training.

• Righthander Greg Reynolds threw well in his first bullpen session in instructional league, but the next day felt soreness in his right scapula. Reynolds had made adjustments in instructional league designed to take pressure off that area after not pitching following an April 9 start for Triple-A Colorado Springs.