Boston Red Sox Prospects: Who will make their MLB debut in 2022?
Red Sox starting pitching prospect Bryan Mata
It’s no secret that I’ve always loved Bryan Mata. However, most people did to be fair. But it feels like the buzz around the right-handed pitcher has cooled down a bit. The reason for this is an injury that caused him to have to get Tommy John surgery.
Mata has had injury problems his entire career. But this was the big one. Honestly, I think it could end up working out for him. Maybe this surgery will help him get and remain healthy for a while. When he is on the mound, Mata is an ace.
He’s 22 right now (will be 23 for the 2022 season) and has dominated basically his entire run in the minors. In 2019, he posted a 3.43 ERA between High-A and Double-A. That year saw him set new marks in innings pitched (105) and strikeouts (111).
Mata’s big issue outside of injuries has been command. In 2018 he walked 58 batters in just 72 innings. However, it looked like he was improving in 2019. That year he lowered the walks to 42 despite throwing 105 innings this time.
Outside of that though, everything else is pretty strong. He creates weak contact, racks up strikeouts, and has some devastating pitches. And we’ve seen a lot of pitchers add some velocity after Tommy John, so we might get an even better version of Mata moving forward.
Now, there are some reasons to think he won’t be making his Major League debut in 2022. Mata got injured in Spring Training last season. So he might not miss all that much time next season (depending on a number of factors though as it’s always tricky to judge these things and sometimes players could miss even two seasons).
That being said, he still has just 11 career starts (53 2/3 innings) in Double-A. And the Red Sox will likely want to ease him back into everything. So even if he does start back at that level, don’t expect them to go hard with him for a while.
What’s frustrating though is that literally the last time we saw him there it was proof of just how good he could be. Mata’s last start in Double-A saw him set a new career-high with seven innings pitched. He did walk five batters in that game but gave up just one hit and no runs, while setting another new career-high with nine strikeouts.
That’s the type of dominance you tend to see from him a lot. And it’s exciting to think he’ll be back on the mound next season.
Even with Mata being considered one of the best pitching prospects in the system (and not long ago being considered one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball), it’s still hard to see him making it to the Majors this year.
The Red Sox are going to be very cautious with him. Barring a bunch of stars aligning (Mata starting the year healthy, staying healthy, pitching great, going deeper into games, and other pitchers ahead of him/in the Majors struggling or getting hurt), it’s not happening. So sadly I have to give Bryan Mata an “ice-cold” rating on the 2022 MLB debut temperature meter.
He’s going to be an ace in Boston, I just don’t think we’ll see him next season.