- Full name Matthew Robert O'Neil West
- Born 11/21/1988 in Houston, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 230 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Bellaire
- Debut 07/10/2014
Drafted in the 2nd round (80th overall) by the Texas Rangers in 2007 (signed for $405,000).
View Draft ReportWest was known mostly for his arm strength coming into 2007, but his bat garnered a lot of attention early this spring and at one point seemed destined to make him a supplemental first-rounder. He has cooled off somewhat, particularly when he faced better competition, and now looks like more of a second- or third-rounder. West doesn't have a long track record as a hitter, but he has fared well in wood-bat workouts. He stays inside pitches well, uses the opposite field and has some power potential. He's a solid athlete with good hands, but he'll have to move from shortstop once he leaves high school. He's probably destined for third base because he's already 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds and second base would be a stretch once he fills out. West has committed to both San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College and Arizona State in order to keep his options open, but he's not considered a tough sign.
Organization Prospect Rankings
West built serious prospect momentum in 2011 by notching a 35-1 K-BB ratio in his first year on the mound after spending four seasons as a light-hitting third baseman. After pitching his way onto the 40-man roster, he probably couldn't have imagined a worse encore season than the one he endured. West sprained the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow during spring training but recovered in time to take the mound in high Class A in mid-June. He struggled through 17 appearances before having Tommy John surgery in late August. Before he got hurt, he drew comparisons to Jason Motte as a converted position player with a squat build and true power stuff. A healthy West showcased a 94-96 mph fastball and an 82-84 mph slider with serious two-plane tilt. If he makes a full recovery, he could ride a fast track to big leagues when he returns in 2014.
Drafted as a third baseman in the second round of the 2007 draft, West tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance and was handed a 50-game suspension less than two months after signing for $400,000. He never put it together at the plate, hitting .241/.344/.364 over four seasons and topping out at low Class A. He quickly took to pitching in 2011, earning a spot on the 40-man roster and comparisons to fellow position player-turned-closer Jason Motte for his compact frame and power stuff. With perhaps better pure stuff than Motte, West profiles as a lockdown closer. Using his incredibly quick arm from a three-quarters arm slot, he pumps 94-96 mph fastballs with good life and touches triple digits. His heater can flatten out at higher velocities. Some scouts confuse his 82-84 mph wipeout slider for a power curveball because of its depth. He's also developing a changeup and shows some feel for it despite his inexperience. West has above-average command and control, walking just one batter in 26 innings at short-season Spokane. He has a completely different personality on the mound, as he's fearless in the way he goes after hitters. West will open 2012 in high Class A. If he continues to impress like he did in his pitching debut, his pair of plus-plus pitches could take him to Texas by September.
Minor League Top Prospects
Originally signed as an infielder, West got off to a bad start in pro ball when he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs just two months after signing in 2007. He never put it together at the plate, hitting .241/.344/.364 over four seasons and topping out in low Class A. His best tool was always his arm, so the Rangers gave him a shot on the mound this year. The early returns were excellent, as West thrived as Spokane's closer. His fastball sits between 94-96 mph and touches 98. He mixes in a hard breaking ball that he can command and started working with a changeup toward the end of the season. He working to get more angle on his fastball, as it sometimes flattens out. His compact, muscular frame, power stuff and the fact that he's a conversion project elicit Jason Motte comparisons. Texas will have to add West to its 40-man roster this winter or expose him to the Rule 5 draft.
After signing as a second-rounder in 2007, West made headlines two months into his pro career when he drew a 50-game suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. When he returned this summer, he showed a promising bat. He has good bat speed, the ability to drive the ball to all fields and penchant for hammering fastballs. West still is figuring out how to translate his raw power in batting practice into performance in games, and he has a ways to go in solving breaking balls. Though he played shortstop in high school, his size and range profile better at third base. He has a solid arm and average speed.