How many times do we see solid prospects fizzle out due to injury? Experts say that it happens much more with pitchers than with any other position. Scouts try to project a pitcher’s long term health, but it always feels like a gamble with the draft regardless these days. Freak injuries, lack of conditioning, and pure bad luck can all turn a potential star into a career minor leaguer. I guess that’s I’m most happy to see Steven Matz succeed and overcome his own flirtation with injury. His is an inspiring story of a young pitcher who has missed far too much time with arm injuries, but who has come roaring back and is still throwing hard, oozing with that top of the rotation potential.
Before last year, Matz only pitched in six professional games after a Tommy John surgery in 2010. However, he was spectacular in 2013, posting a sterling 2.62 ERA in 106.1 innings pitched for Savannah this season. He struck out 122 over that span. He also made two post-season starts, where he did not allow a run in either contest. It was easy to see how excited Paul DePodesta was about Matz’s strong season:
“I think we were just so happy for Steven,” DePodesta said. “He’s put in so much work and so much time and all the rehab … and had gotten to a point where he could pitch a full season. He had a terrific year, his ERA was great and he struck out a ton of a guys. He has a plus changeup to go with his fastball.
“The thing we were happiest about was his 21 regular-season starts. Just the fact that he was able to take the ball that many times and have no injuries. He’s always had the stuff, it was just a matter of him being healthy.”
Matz jumped right back into the mix of our Top 10 Mets Prospects after his amazing comeback in 2013, and he could work his way up to being our top prospect by the end of 2014 if he turns in another season like he did last year.
Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero will be in the majors by then after they both make their MLB debuts this upcoming season, so Matz is in store for a big jump once they move on. He’s always an entertaining pitcher to watch, so I’m looking forward to seeing him dominate again.