- Full name Tyler Alexander Matzek
- Born 10/19/1990 in Mission Viejo, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 230 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Capistrano Valley
- Debut 06/11/2014
Drafted in the 1st round (11th overall) by the Colorado Rockies in 2009 (signed for $3,900,000).
View Draft ReportMatzek was virtually unknown until a preseason scrimmage last year, when he squared off against righthander Gerritt Cole, who became a 2008 first-rounder and is now at UCLA. Matzek was fantastic, striking out five of six hitters in two innings as 40 scouts were crammed into the bleachers, whispering, "Who is this guy?" He's anonymous no more. He starred in the 2008 Aflac game and at showcases both nationally and in Southern California, and while he's committed to Oregon he could be the first high school player drafted. With a rare blend of quality stuff, pitching smarts and ease of delivery, he may be the best prep lefty from Southern California since Cole Hamels in 2002. Similar in build and style to Angels southpaw Joe Saunders, Matzek features a 90-93 mph fastball, which peaks at 94, as well as a sharp-breaking curveball. He has flashed a changeup and slider in the past, but had not used them much this spring. Several crosscheckers hoped to see a more advanced feel for pitching and sharper secondary stuff, and Matzek had a few indifferent outings this year, struggling with his command and experiencing a dip in velocity, perhaps due to a blister on his pitching hand, which has since healed. Matzek's arm action is wonderfully smooth, and the ball leaves with his hand with ease, though he has a tendency to open up too soon. With a nearly stiff front leg landing, his fastball will often sail up and out of the strike zone, but any flaws are considered correctable.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Matzek signed for $3.9 million and has made slow progress. His franchise bonus record stood until Jonathan Gray received $4.8 million in 2013. Matzek entered pro baseball adhering to the unorthodox Mike Marshall warm-up routine and even went home for three weeks during the 2011 season to work with his youth pitching coach, a Marshall disciple. He scrapped that routine during the 2012 season and has become far less analytical and a good deal more receptive to instruction. However, control and command remain issues for Matzek, mostly with his fastball. For the second successive season, he led his league in free passes (75), this time at Double-A Tulsa, though he did manage to lower his walk rate from 6 per nine innings to 4.8. The Rockies sent Matzek to the Arizona Fall League in 2013 to pitch in relief. His fastball ranged from 87-94 mph during the season but sat 93 and touched 95 in the AFL. Matzek's average curveball and fringy slider have gotten a little better, but his below-average changeup, which he tends to throw too hard, still isn't where it needs to be. He seems destined for the bullpen, given that his walk totals build up his pitch counts, making it difficult for him to go five innings as a starter. He ought to pitch at Triple-A in 2014.
Matzek received a franchise-record $3.9 million bonus as the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft and has struggled to live up to it. He took time off during the 2011 season to go home and work with his youth pitching coach. He finally showed signs of coming around late last season after he stopped being overly analytical, recording a 1.14 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 32 inning in his final five starts (including two playoff elimination games). He led the California League in both strikeouts (153) and walks (95). Matzek still has better stuff than most lefthanders. He averages 91-92 mph and reaches 95 with his fastball. He has raised his lead arm in his delivery, giving him more leverage and downhill plane. That has helped his curveball immensely, and it's now a plus pitch. Matzek worked on softening his changeup in instructional league and threw some at 85 mph, notable improvement from his usual 89 mph. His control and command have improved but still need to get a lot better. He has become more receptive to coaching, which the Rockies see as a sign of maturity. Advancing to Double-A will provide Matzek a stiff test to see how consistently he can throw strikes and handle adversity. With better command, he could become a No. 2 or 3 starter.
Matzek has become an enigma, something the Rockies didn't expect when they took him 11th overall in 2009 and signed him for a franchise-record $3.9 million. Some clubs rated him as the second-best prospect behind only Stephen Strasburg in that draft, but he hasn't pitched up to it. After he began 2011 in a 10-start swoon in high Class A in 2011, the Rockies demoted him. Following three rough starts in low Class A, he asked to return home to southern California to work with Lon Fullmer, his youth pitching coach and a disciple of Mike Marshall, the 1974 National League Cy Young Award winner whose ideas about pitching are generally shunned by the baseball establishment. Matzek returned to Asheville after three weeks, going back to the high arm slot he used as an amateur. He had more success, going 5-2, 2.78 with 64 strikeouts in 55 innings, albeit with 35 walks. Matzek remained inconsistent with his fastball velocity, which ranged from 84-96 mph during instructional league. He can sit easily at 92 mph when he gets in a groove, but his mechanics vary. That's particularly evident when he works out of the stretch, as he breaks his hands late and drifts on the mound. He also has problems throwing strikes low in the zone, which may always be an issue because his hand position at the top of his delivery gets him underneath the ball. Matzek also throws a pair of hard breaking balls in his curveball and slider, and he also has a changeup. All of his secondary pitches are hit or miss, though his changeup showed improvement toward the end of instructional league. Matzek still has stuff but ultimately whether he succeeds will come down to command. He must do a better job of getting his fastball in on righthanders. He also needs to trust his pitching coaches and his ability to make pitches. He's a perfectionist and starts working faster when things aren't going well. Matzek can be his own worst enemy, expecting things to go wrong at times and letting negative thoughts affect him when they do. It wouldn't hurt him to tone up his lower half and make it more flexible, which would help his delivery. He'll give high Class A another try in 2012, when Colorado hopes to get a better handle on what exactly he can become.
Matzek emerged as the top high school pitcher and top lefthander in the 2009 draft class, but his reported bonus demands and Oregon commitment drove him down many draft boards. The Rockies had a reputation for being conservative in the draft, but in their first major deviation from their previous draft philosophy, they took Matzek 11th overall. Though he had told teams he was looking for "unprecedented money," Colorado was able to land him for a club-record $3.9 million at the Aug. 17 deadline. He signed too late to make his pro debut, though he did make a strong impression in instructional league. The Rockies kept him in extended spring training for the first six weeks of the 2010 season, in an attempt to keep his innings down in his first pro season. Matzek didn't make his first start at low Class A Asheville until May 24, and even in August he worked with an 85-pitch limit. He also was slowed by biceps tendinitis at season's end, though he still ranked as the No. 3 prospect (and top pitching prospect) in the South Atlantic League. Matzek has a legitimate four-pitch assortment, with strong present stuff and plenty of room for improvement. His fastball sits at 88-92 mph and touches 96. He throws his fastball with good angle, and it jumps on hitters with late life. He pitched in the mid-90s more frequently toward the end of the season, and he flashed upper-90s heat leading up to the 2009 draft. At 20, he should get stronger as he fills out. Matzek is still developing feel for and consistency with his secondary pitches. He presently has more feel for his decent curveball, but his slider should develop into his more reliable breaking ball, a potential plus offering and perhaps a legitimate out pitch. His changeup shows promise in bullpen sessions, but he doesn't use it enough in games. Eventually he'll learn that he needs the changeup to combat righthanders, though for now he noticeably slows his arm when he throws it. Matzek has good arm action and a nice release, but he opens up too soon in his delivery and lands on a stiff front leg, which is why he has been so inconsistent with his command. He averaged 6.2 walks per nine innings in his pro debut, which makes his 2.92 ERA a testament to his ability to dominate hitters. A quality athlete, Matzek fields his position well. His biggest challenge has nothing to do with his physical ability, as he must do a better job of not showing his emotions on the mound. Having never dealt with failure, he got frustrated at times last season. He also got himself in trouble by being too analytical. He's meticulous in his approach, but Colorado would like him to simplify things and not outthink himself. Matzek has all the stuff to pitch at the top of a rotation, but he also has a lot to learn. If his control and command come together, he could move more quickly than a typical Rockies high school draft pick. He'll start 2011 at high Class A Modesto, with a midseason move up to Double-A Tulsa and a big league ETA of late 2012 not out of the question.
Matzek first gained the attention of scouts early in his junior season of high school in 2008, when he outpitched Gerrit Cole (who would become the Yankees' first-round pick that June) in a preseason matchup. Matzek entered 2009 as the top-rated pitcher in the high school draft crop, and he saved his best for last. After pitching a shutout in the California Interscholastic Federation Division I semifinals, he took the mound with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth inning of the finale. He pitched out of the jam, hit an opposite-field homer for a 1-0 lead in the bottom half, then got out of another bases-loaded situation in the seventh to preserve the victory. Matzek didn't allow a run in 18 1/3 innings in the CIF playoffs while touching 97-98 mph and maintaining both his velocity and quality breaking stuff deep into his starts. With his strong finish, he pushed himself to as high as No. 2 on some clubs' draft boards, but he fell to the Rockies at No. 11 after stating that he was looking for "unprecedented money." At the Aug. 17 signing deadline, Matzek passed up a full scholarship and the opportunity to play both ways at Oregon in order to receive a club-record $3.9 million bonus. Scouts thought he was the best high school lefthander to come out of Southern California since Cole Hamels in 2002, and Matzek has better stuff. He has a legitimate four-pitch arsenal, starting with a fastball that sat at 90-94 mph for most of the spring before jumping to the upper 90s right before the draft. His curveball and slider are two distinct breaking pitches and both have the potential to become plus offerings. He also shows feel for a changeup, though he didn't need the pitch very often as an amateur. Matzek has an exceedingly smooth delivery and the ball comes out of his hand easily. He's athletic and repeats his mechanics well, which bodes well for his future control and command. His leadership is another trait that has him destined to be a staff ace. While he hasn't faced much adversity on the mound, he proved his toughness after his father Jeff, who had coached him since T-ball, was diagnosed with throat cancer while Matzek was a sophomore. He didn't let his father's illness affect his performance, and Jeff 's cancer is now in remission. Matzek sometimes lands on a stiff front leg, causing his fastball to sail high and out of the strike zone. He'll need to improve his fastball command and use his changeup more often, but that should come with more innings. There's really little he needs more than experience, and he has the aptitude and confidence to make any adjustments that he'll need to address. The Rockies are normally reluctant to push young players, particularly pitchers, but they were very impressed with how Matzek handled instructional league. The first high school pitcher they've picked in the first round since the Matt Harrington debacle in 2000, Matzek is ticketed for low Class A Asheville, which would make him the first high school player that Colorado has allowed to debut in full-season ball. He should move very fast for a prep product and projects as a frontline starter.
Minor League Top Prospects
Regarded as the best lefthanded pitching prospect in the 2009 draft and signed for $3.9 million, Matzek began this season by going 0-3, 9.82 in high Class A and 0-2, 14.00 in his first three outings following a demotion to Asheville. After going home to California to work with the pitching instructor he had as an amateur, he rejoined the Tourists and went 5-2, 2.78 with a 64-35 K-BB ratio in his final 35 innings. Matzek's fastball usually ranges from 89-94 mph and tops out at 96, and he has a pair of hard breaking balls in his curveball and slider. His pure stuff isn't an issue, but his ability to command and control it is. The Rockies tried to simplify his complicated delivery, and he still had trouble finding the zone after reverting to his high school mechanics. "Matzek has improved dramatically," Mikulik said. "He's got more downhill plane, which gives him more fastball command. His curveball has gotten better. He still needs to work on his changeup. He's also doing a great job of attacking the zone. He had a few mental things and a few mechanical issues going on, but you could see him gain confidence over the last month."
Like Arenado, Matzek gave Asheville a midseason boost. Signed for $3.9 million as the 12th overall pick in the 2009 draft, he made his pro debut with the Tourists on May 24. His contributions were limited by the Rockies' desire to keep him close to 90 innings, but he allowed two runs or fewer in 13 of his 18 starts. Though he has an easy delivery and sat mostly at 88-92 mph in his early SAL starts, Matzek's fastball reached the mid-90s later in the season and jumps on hitters with late life. His curveball, slider and changeup all show promise, but he needs more consistency with all of his pitches. He also needs to improve his control and command after averaging 6.2 walks per nine innings. "He showed a nasty changeup in the pen but not in games," Mikulik said. "His slider has a chance to be a plus pitch, and he needs to command his fastball better. He was just getting his feet wet this year. Once he gets some momentum going, he could move fast."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Curveball in the Colorado Rockies in 2013
- Rated Best Fastball in the Colorado Rockies in 2011
- Rated Best Fastball in the Colorado Rockies in 2010
Background: Matzek received a franchise-record $3.9 million bonus as the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft and has struggled to live up to it. He took time off during the 2011 season to go home and work with his youth pitching coach. He finally showed signs of coming around late last season after he stopped being overly analytical, recording a 1.14 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 32 inning in his final five starts (including two playoff elimination games). He led the California League in both strikeouts (153) and walks (95). Scouting Report: Matzek still has better stuff than most lefthanders. He averages 91-92 mph and reaches 95 with his fastball. He has raised his lead arm in his delivery, giving him more leverage and downhill plane. That has helped his curveball immensely, and it's now a plus pitch. Matzek worked on softening his changeup in instructional league and threw some at 85 mph, notable improvement from his usual 89 mph. His control and command have improved but still need to get a lot better. He has become more receptive to coaching, which the Rockies see as a sign of maturity. The Future: Advancing to Double-A will provide a stiff test to see how consistently Matzek can throw strikes and handle adversity. With better command, he could be a No. 2 or 3 starter.