The Red Sox top pitching prospect took the mound for an inning in yesterday’s Futures Game. How did he fare in his first moment in the spotlight?
Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata has quietly climbed the rankings over the last year. Part of that is due to a thinning out of the system, but part of it is that he just keeps performing. He caught the eye of prospect hounds in 2016 when he finished the season with a 2.80 ERA, 2.57 FIP and a 2.42 xFIP. That was over 61 IP with a strikeout per inning. His ERA jumped up to 3.78 in 2017 but his peripherals still looked good. A 3.39 FIP and a 3.58 xFIP suggest there may have been a little positive regression baked into it. And the strikeout per inning rate was still roughly intact.
This season has been a different story. A 3.42 ERA looks like a nice step forward. But a 4.81 FIP and a 5.10 xFIP suggest he’s been struggling a bit. Mostly, it’s been his walk rate of 7.23 per 9 that has ballooned those two figures. And his K/9 is just 7.61. Even still, he’s working around the trouble he creates and is, on the whole, succeeding. He is 6-2 over 71 IP, which puts him on pace for a healthy increase over his 77 innings from 2017. It was enough to earn him a trip to the Futures Game yesterday. How’d he do?
The results were a lot like his season so far.
The most exciting thing about his appearance yesterday was his heater. He consistently threw his two-seam fastball at 95 MPH and was able to get it over for strikes. Being able to work in the mid-90’s is almost essential in today’s game. And he demonstrated an ability to live there. Beyond that, the outing featured an effective curveball between 75 and 79 MPH and was fairly typical for him. In his single inning, he had a walk, a strikeout and a wild pitch while allowing no runs. He also allowed one single.
And keep in mind that at 19 years old, he’s not only on the younger end of the World Team roster, he’s still quite young for the level he is pitching at; High-A Salem. Despite his struggles, there is plenty of reason to be excited about him. 19-year-olds who throw 95 MPH with life don’t grow on trees which is probably why soxprospects.com has him ranked second in the system behind Michael Chavis in their July 1 rankings. This after being ranked 3rd to start the year, 6th last July, and 16th to start the 2017 season. While his season hasn’t gone as smoothly as hoped, he’s likely the top pitching prospect the Red Sox have. At least until someone else steps up and takes that mantle.
Did you watch the Futures Game yesterday? What are your thoughts on Bryan Mata? Does he have a future in Boston or is he trade fodder? Let us know in the comments!