- Full name Steven Jakob Matz
- Born 05/29/1991 in Stony Brook, NY
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 201 / Bats: R / Throws: L
- School Ward Melville
- Debut 06/28/2015
Drafted in the 2nd round (72nd overall) by the New York Mets in 2009 (signed for $895,000).
View Draft ReportThe consensus top prep pitching prospect in the Northeast, Matz offers plenty of projection as well as good present stuff. For most of the spring, Matz sat in the 89-91 mph range, but he routinely ran his fastball up to 93-94, and the pitch has some glove-side life. Scouts particularly like the way he attacks hitters inside with his heater. He also shows a solid-average changeup with good deception that sometimes rates as plus. He began throwing a slider midway through the season, but most scouts prefer his 73-75 mph three-quarters curveball, which flashes average to plus but more often rates as a below-average offering at this stage. Matz has a big, projectable frame at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, but there are some questions about his durability because he had trouble staying healthy for a full season until this year. He also needs to work on his delivery, as he tends to cut himself off and has a head jerk. There is some risk with Matz, but he has enough upside that some team is very likely to take him in the top three rounds and buy him out of a commitment to Coastal Carolina.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Matz grew up on Long Island rooting for the Mets, so when he made his big league debut at Citi Field on June 28, he had about 150 family members and friends on hand. He allowed two runs in 72?3 innings to the Reds that day--while going 3-for-3 with four RBIs at the plate--to announce, loudly, that he had completed his six-year trek to the majors. The top pitching prospect from the Northeast in the 2009 draft class, Matz fell to the Mets in the second round and signed for $895,000. He did not take the mound in a game that counted until his fourth pro season, however. Beset with elbow soreness in 2010 spring training, Matz had Tommy John surgery that May and spent all of that season, plus 2011, recovering on the disabled list. He had another injury scare in 2012, but a May MRI revealed only that scar tissue was breaking apart in his elbow, so the then- 21-year-old southpaw began his career in earnest with six excellent starts at Rookie-level Kingsport. He conquered three levels of the minors in 2013 and 2014, finishing the latter season at Double-A Binghamton and ranking 10th in the minors with an overall 2.24 ERA. Matz cruised through 14 starts at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2015 to rank as the top pitching prospect in the Pacific Coast League and earn a big league callup in late June. A partial tear of the lat muscle in his left side forced him to the sidelines for most of July and August, but he returned in September and then made three postseason starts, where he went 0-1, 3.68 with 13 strikeouts and four walks in 15 innings. Matz pitches at 92 mph and can reach as high as 97 from a loose, free-and-easy delivery. He generates the majority of his swings and misses with his fastball and a high-70s curveball he began throwing with more conviction in big spots in 2015 and now grades as average. Batters may have been surprised to see so many curves from Matz, based on existing scouting reports, but even if they eventually adjust to spin, he still throws a plus, mid-80s changeup that features plus sinking action and impressive separation from his fastball. It's a go-to chase pitch for him that he rarely hangs over the plate. He allowed just six home runs in 2015, even including the palyoffs. Matz has good but not great control, and he showed a frustrating tendency to walk same-side batters, included nearly 18 percent of lefthanders in the majors. Durability is the only hurdle Matz must clear to reach his ceiling, for his injury history is more extensive than that of most other pitchers. However, he has not dealt with an arm problem since the 2012 season. With the recent graduations of Matt Harvey (2012), Zack Wheeler (2013), Jacob deGrom (2014) and Noah Syndergaard (2015)--not to mention the July trade of righthander Michael Fulmer to the Tigers--Matz is the system's last premium pitching prospect left on the horizon. He offers a nice lefthanded contrast to the other four righty power arms and has a ceiling of No. 2 starter based on having two plus pitches, an average third and at least average control. Matz is ready to assume a big league rotation spot in 2016.
One of the top prep pitchers available in the 2009 draft, the Long Islandborn Matz fell to the Mets with their top pick in the late second round. He missed three years after signing, however, when he had Tommy John surgery and suffered multiple setbacks. Matz finally took the mound in the second half of 2012 and subsequently breezed through three levels of the minors in 2013 and 2014, finishing the latter at Double-A Binghamton and ranking 10th in the minors with a 2.24 ERA. Matz throws with the kind of velocity (93-95 mph), looseness and direction to the plate that makes scouts drool. He can rear back for 98 mph when he needs it, earning him double-plus grades for his fastball. Matz throws a plus changeup in the mid-80s that features plus sinking action and impressive separation from his fastball. His 78-82 mph curveball functions well enough as a third pitch, and it improved in terms of power and shape under the tutelage of Binghamton pitching coach Glenn Abbott in the second half. Matz profiles as high as a No. 2 starter in a rotation because he throws two plus pitches, an average third and has average control. He could begin 2015 at Triple-A Las Vegas and supply lefty balance to the Mets rotation in the second half.
Matz offers a power arm worth waiting for, which is good because that's exactly what the Mets have been forced to do. Four years after being drafted, he finally reached low Class A Savannah, where he made 23 starts including the playoffs. The top Northeast pitching prospect for the 2009 draft, Matz signed for $895,000 as the Mets' top pick (second round) but then had Tommy John surgery in May 2010 that knocked him out for two entire seasons. He made his pro debut in 2012 by making six mostly-electric starts for Rookie-level Kingsport. Scouts reported seeing three plus pitches in some of Matz's best 2013 starts. He sits 93-94 mph and tops out near 96 with his riding four-seamer, while also sinking his fastball at about 90 with a two-seam grip he added in 2013. He sells a plus circle changeup with terrific arm speed, while taking to a buzzsaw curve in 2013 that sits 78-80 mph and breaks straight down. He doesn't always repeat the rotation on the breaking ball, but it could be a plus pitch in time. Matz pitches with a long stride that helps him leverage the ball down in the zone, and scouts regard his delivery and arm action as positive attributes. Despite a lengthy injury history, Matz unleashes uncommonly good stuff with late life from the left side. He could mature into a No. 2 or 3 starter if he stays healthy, making him the ultimate lottery ticket. He'll move to high Class A St. Lucie in 2014.
Matz began and ended the 2012 season on the sidelines, rehabbing from injury setbacks, but in between he made six electric starts for Rookie-level Kingsport. That he pitched at all was the real news, for the fourth-year pro hadn't pitched in a game that counted since high school. The top Northeast pitching prospect in the 2009 draft, Matz was the Mets' top pick (second round) and signed for $895,000. Plagued by elbow soreness the following spring, he had Tommy John surgery in May 2010 and missed the season. He missed the 2011 season, too, with lingering soreness. More soreness in 2012 necessitated an MRI in May, which revealed only scar tissue breaking apart, so he reported to Kingsport in June with an 80-pitch limit. After feeling his way through three starts, Matz blazed a trail through Appalachian League competition in July, throwing six scoreless innings in three consecutive starts, notching 23 strikeouts against eight walks and five hits. At his peak, he topped out at 96 mph with explosive life on his fastball while mixing in an average curveball and changeup. The run came to an end following his July 26 start, when a bout of shoulder tendinitis landed him back on the disabled list. He spent his time rehabbing during instructional league. New York says Matz has the best lefthanded stuff in the system--with a pie-in-the-sky ceiling of No. 2 starter--but he obviously has much to prove.
Matz hasn't thrown an inning for the Mets since signing for $895,000 as their top pick (second round) in the 2009 draft. Like Robbie Shields, the club's third-rounder from the same draft, Matz needed Tommy John surgery. He threw well in minor league camp last spring, but stayed behind in extended spring training with a sore elbow and had reconstructive surgery in May. Before he got hurt, Matz's fastball sat at 89-91 mph and touched 94 with life to his glove side, enabling him to pitch in on the hands of righthanders. He's big and projectable, so he could work comfortably at 92-93 mph once he matures physically. He also had an average changeup with some fade and sink, as well as a curveball that showed flashes of being a plus pitch with short, down-breaking action. Matz finally should be able to make his pro debut in mid-2011, either at Brooklyn or Savannah.
In a rare move for the Mets, they exceeded MLB's slot recommendations to sign Matz, their top pick (second round) in the 2009 draft. The 72nd overall choice, he turned down a commitment to Coastal Carolina to sign at the Aug. 17 deadline for $895,000--well over the $506,700 guideline from the commissioner's office. He joined the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Mets at the end of the season bit didn't appear in a game. Director of amateur scouting Rudy Terrasas loves Matz's frame, arm action, athleticism and the way he competes. Matz likes to pitch inside with his fastball, which ranges from 89-94 mph and settles in at 90-91. His velocity took a significant jump from the Area Code Games in August 2008 to his high school senior season, which helped boost his stock. Both his curveball and changeup are promising pitches but lack consistency, and the latter is the better pitch at this point. He also started working on a slider with former big league pitcher Neal Heaton last winter, though it's still a work in progress. Matz has a projectable frame but there are questions about his durability. He didn't have a completely healthy year
Minor League Top Prospects
Though Matz was selected in the second round of the 2009 draft, he didn't make his pro debut until 2012 following a prolonged recovery from Tommy John surgery. He's proved to be worth the wait and excelled at Las Vegas before making his major league debut in June. Matz has a loose, easy delivery and throws his fastball in the mid-90s, occasionally reaching as high as 97 mph with the pitch. His changeup is his best secondary offering, and he also mixes in a good, high-70s curveball. He commands his whole arsenal well and isn't afraid to challenge hitters. Matz still must prove he can handle a full season's workload, for he never has thrown more than 140 innings in a season and spent two months on the major league disabled list this year with a partial tear of the lat muscle on his left side. If Matz is able to improve his durability, he has the makings of a top-of-the-rotation starter.
Matz impresses scouts and managers with both his stuff and his mound demeanor, where he shows toughness and confidence. He missed two seasons after having Tommy John surgery, but he has developed into a three-pitch, power lefthander with No. 2 or No. 3 starter potential. Matz starts with a fastball that can reach 98 mph and works better at 93-96, because he can throw more consistent strikes at that speed. His fastball has some natural sink, helping him keep the ball in the park, and his above-average changeup features good depth. His curveball was inconsistent in the FSL, but scouts who saw him report significant progress with it at Double-A. "He was playing catch at 95-96 (mph)," Daytona manager Dave Keller said. "It's a very easy delivery and very little effort to a really good fastball."
After missing two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2010-11 and getting his feet wet in 2012, Matz looked sharp last year at low Class A Savannah, and then built on that strong year in high Class A St. Lucie in the first half of 2014 and with Binghamton in the second. Tall and strong with a loose arm and a clean delivery, Matz's fastball sits comfortably between 93-95 mph and can touch as high as 97 when he needs it. The pitch also features sinking action. He complements it first and foremost with a circle changeup thrown in the mid-80s with excellent fade and separation from his fastball. The separator this year, however, has been the development of the curveball, a 12-6 breaker that has gotten much more consistent under the tutelage of pitching coach Glenn Abbott. It's still his third pitch, but it's got the makings of at least an average major league offering in the future. If that happens, Matz has a ceiling as lofty as a No. 2 starter.
Savannah pitching coach Frank Viola does an outstanding job of teaching his pitchers to hit their spots. They don?t give in, they almost without fail have excellent control and they take advantage of the spacious dimensions of their home park. Led by control artists like Gabriel Ynoa (the league?s pitcher of the year) and Luis Cessa, Savannah walked 267 batters all year. Only one other SAL team walked fewer than 400. Matz didn?t paint corners as much as Ynoa or Cessa, but he did throw plenty of strikes while showcasing three potentially plus pitches: an 89-94 mph fastball that touched 96 as well as an intriguing curveball and changeup. The big question for Matz is health. His 106 innings this year came after he threw fewer than 30 in his first three pro seasons as he dealt with an extremely lengthy recovery from Tommy John surgery.