The 2020 regular season is almost upon us. So it’s time to talk about which Boston Red Sox prospects have big things in store for the upcoming campaign.
Before the start of the 2019 season, I did quite a few of these, focusing on some Boston Red Sox prospects. It only felt right that I started the 2020 batch off with El Idolo himself, Bryan Mata.
As you could probably guess, Mata was one of the players highlighted last season. Not only did the right-handed pitcher definitely have a great year, he surpassed expectations.
In 10 starts (51 1/3 innings) for Advanced-A, Mata posted an absolutely nuts 1.75 ERA. He also had 52 strikeouts and a .209 BAA.
That led to a promotion to Double-A. There, he struggled a little bit with a 5.03 ERA and .271 BAA in 11 starts (53 2/3 innings).
More from Red Sox Prospects
- Predicting top Red Sox outfield prospect Ceddanne Rafaela’s timeline to the majors
- Predicting Red Sox top prospect Marcelo Mayer’s timeline to the majors
- Red Sox risk repeating rookie mistake with Eric Hosmer release
- Red Sox invited group of players you’ve probably never heard of to Spring Training
- Jeter Downs’ official departure will continue to haunt Red Sox
However, in that time in Double-A, Mata had his moments. That included his final start of the season, and arguably his best, most dominant start ever.
On August 31, Mata struggled in one area, walking five batters. However, he was perfect in just about everything else. He allowed just one hit while setting new career-highs in innings pitched (7) and strikeouts (9).
Overall, the numbers were still good on the season. Mata finished with a 3.43 ERA in a career-high 105 innings pitched. His .237 BAA and 111 strikeouts were also career-bests. The Red Sox have to love that.
Now he’s set to start 2020 in Double-A for the Red Sox. He already has experience there and as we saw in that final start, he can be just as dominant as ever. Mata will turn just 21 on May 3, still extremely young for the stage he’s at in his career.
With time already at that level, the righty might not face the same struggles he did last year. That could lead to him doing what he’s done his entire career, blowing away the competition.
Mata’s fastball showed more consistency in 2019. There’s a ton of movement and it sides in the mid-90s, closing in on 100 at times. When he gets deeper into games, velocity can drop, which is an issue.
His curveball is his “eh” pitch, and at times in 2019 he made it look devastating, and that’s exciting.
Finally, his changeup gets me hyped up. That’s unfair because anyone that knows me knows the changeup is the greatest pitch of all-time in my opinion. Nothing better than a good changeup. Mata’s has deceptive speed and arm delivery, and a nice drop-off. He continued to improve that pitch in 2019.
So what is there to make you believe he won’t continue to improve in 2020? Mata’s been on a ridiculous pace, tearing up the minors so far in his career. The reason for 2020 being the “season of Bryan Mata” is simple, every year has been his season.
As I said, the Red Sox will start the righty in Double-A in 2020. However, he already has over 50 innings logged there. If things start off right, he could take the next step. I’m talking not only Triple-A, but there’s actually a chance Mata’s in the Majors in 2020.
If we’re being realistic, that isn’t happening. The Red Sox should not rush him, and the fact that he’s a starter with 105 innings as his career-high should tell you he isn’t ready.
It’s not 100% out of the picture though. And the fact that it’s even a possibility should be enough to get you interested in one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball.
Once Mata puts it all together, and believe me, it’s coming, not much will be able to stop him. There’s a strong chance 2020 is that perfect storm, which means this could truly be the “Year of Bryan Mata”. That is, until 2021, when it will probably be his year again. Man, the Boston Red Sox have to be excited about El Idolo.