Marc Carig of Newsday posted a nice piece on Melville, Long Island’s Steven Matz and it was interesting to see what a couple of scouts said about the young lefthander.
“If something’s going to get him to the major leagues, it’s going to be the effectiveness of his fastball,” said one rival scout, who believes Matz could reach the big leagues as a starter in two or three years.”
“He definitely has a chance,” said another rival evaluator. “His stuff is good enough. He’s definitely back on the radar.”
Check out Carig’s entire article, it’s definitely a good read.
I love hearing stuff like that on our young prospects. Enjoy this interview we posted before the weekend with Matz:
MMO Exclusive Interview With Steven Matz
Over the past several seasons the Mets have shown us how important pitching is to the organization. They have developed and brought up many homegrown pitching prospects to debut with the team including established pieces like Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia, and Bobby Parnell. Each have shown signs of excelling at the major league level, and in the case of Harvey even dominate at an All Star level.
The Mets still have many more young and exciting arms still to come that are flourishing in their talented system. Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero head this cast of featured attractions, but there’s another name who is quickly gaining that same star prospect status and is moving up he ranks; lefthander Steven Matz.
Matz, 22, helped the Savannah Sand Gnats win the 2013 SAL Championship with a dominating pitching performance that flew under the radar. The former 2009 top pick for the Mets started 21 games for Single-A Savannah and posted a 2.62 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and struck out 121 batters in 106.1 innings pitched while walking only 38.
He helped lead the Sand Gnats through the playoffs with two dominating performances. In Game 2 of the first round he pitched 7.0 innings of one-hit ball with eight strikeouts and he didn’t give up a run in a 5-0 victory. In Game 4 of the Championship series, he allowed just four hits, recorded 9 strikeouts and didn’t give up an earned run in 5.2 innings, while earning the victory in both games to clinch both series.
When asked what was it like to be so dominating and be able to lead the team to victory, Matz said, ”It was an awesome feeling to pitch in both clinching games, that’s just kind of the way it felt. We would have felt comfortable throwing any of our guys on the clinching games, because that’s how dominant our whole pitching staff was. It was a great way to finish the season for our team. Personally I am glad I was able to finish strong, and ultimately help the team win a championship.”
Matz was picked by MMO at No. 10 on their Top 25 Mets Prospect list for 2014. He may be a couple of years away, but if he continues with his development, the Mets look to have another high ceiling pitcher to add to their growing stable of young arms.
Enjoy my conversation with Steven Matz as he gets ready for spring training and the 2014 season…
David – Is there something that you would like to share with the Mets fans that they do not already know about you? Your interests, hobbies outside of baseball?
Steven - Even though I am from Long Island, NY, I enjoy the outdoors a lot. I love hunting and fishing, and I mostly picked these hobbies up after I started playing for the Mets, but now I am hooked.
David – What would it mean to you to be able to make your major league debut at Citi Field, knowing that your family and friends are not too far away on Long Island?
Steven - It would be pretty awesome if I could make my major league debut at Citi field. Not many people ever get that chance, let alone having your debut within an hour from your house. It would definitely make it easier on the family, because I know most likely all of them would be there. (My family are big baseball fans)
David – Who was a big influence for you while growing up and playing baseball?
Steven - My Dad was the biggest influence for me growing up. He spent hours upon hours at the field with me, and took me all around the country to play in tournaments, showcases or whatever it may be. I also see how hard he worked to give our family a good life, and he took that work ethic and instilled it in me and my siblings.
David – On the day that you were signed by the Mets in 2009, who was the first person you shared the news with?
Steven - Well I was sitting on my couch with my parents; I had a pretty good feeling that I was going to get picked, just not sure where or when. My aunt and uncle who live down the road had a bunch of people over their house. When I heard my name called, I went over there. It was a pretty exciting time.
David – In 2012, you played your first pro baseball season with Kingsport, what was the experience like to finally be on the field again?
Steven - To finally get back on the field felt great. I felt a little lost out there at first, but I was able to get my feet under me a little bit towards the end of the season. Kingsport is a great place to start a career, I feel. You have loyal fans, but not too many where there is tons of pressure. Also, we traveled to some cool places up in the Appalachian Mountains.
David – In 2013 with Savannah, you appeared in 21 games and pitched well in your first full pro season, what can you say attributed to your turnaround?
Steven - I don’t know what really made me turn the corner; I thank God for my health this year as I pretty much did the same thing I do every year as far as the off-season. I know a big contributor, as far as staying on the field and rebounding in between starts, was our trainer Tom Truedson. I knew Tom since 2009 and he’s seen the troubles I had with being able to stay out there and pitch. We had a good routine that he’d have me do and it helped a lot. Also Frank Viola worked with me on a routine as far as a throwing program; we sat down and put one together and it helped me feel good for each start.
David – Can you describe the feeling of winning the South Atlantic League Championship, this past season with Savannah?
Steven - The feeling of winning the championship really is a great feeling. A lot of people were unsure of how we were going to do without our sluggers like Jayce Boyd and Kevin Plawecki. It was cool to see other guys step up. We all worked hard all year, and our manager Luis Rojas kept with us and pushed us every day. I have never won a big championship like that before, and it was a great feeling to finish out on top.
David – What teammate has impressed you the most this season, and who should Mets fans be most excited about seeing in the future?
Steven - It’s hard to put a finger on any one guy because we had some many good performers this season. Jayce Boyd, however, is an unbelievable hitter. He’s fun to watch hit, and he is such a smart hitter. I like to pick his brain on what he is thinking while he is up there at the plate.
David – Is there a Met manager or coach who has made an impact in your approach to the game and helped elevate your performance?
Steven - Having Frank Viola as my pitching coach this year was a true blessing. Having a 15 or 16 year big league career, he has seen it all. He really knows how to optimize a pitching staff. He knew what each of us were capable of and he didn’t let us do any less. And it showed.
David – With the success you have had in your brief time in the minors; do you feel like you are on track with the goals you set for yourself? If so, what are you expecting for 2014?
Steven - Yes I do feel I am back on track. This past season I set a goal of 100 innings and including the playoffs I tallied 119 innings. For next season I would like to bypass the 130 inning mark, and let the rest take care of itself.
David – Moving forward, what stands between you and the big leagues? What do you specifically need to work on as a player, and improve upon, in order to be ready to compete on the big stage?
Steven - I think there are a few things that stand right now, the main being just the experience. Just logging innings would definitely polish all I have right now. I would also like to find more consistency of my breaking pitch. This season I did lack a little confidence out there that Frank Viola and I talked a lot about. Confidence in every pitch and knowing that I am able to go out there and dominate. Because you have to know you can before you actually do.
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We want to thank Steven for giving us some time… He is a solid young pitcher with great potential and will eventually make a major impact in the Mets rotation. Maybe by then Harvey will be back in full force, Wheeler and Syndergaard will be top of the rotations staples, and Matz can be the power lefty that gives them the rotation to win a crown.
Look for Matz to begin the season Advanced-A St. Lucie and make it up to Double-A Binghamton, following the same track as Noah Syndergaard last season.