Tyler made his minor league debut on May 24th of 2010 in Class-A Asheville. Giving up only 1 hit in 5 innings of work, it was a encouraging performance for a club that had invested so greatly in a talented, but raw, high school arm. His performances in Asheville were in some ways impressive and in some ways simply showed Matzek’s age. He was a 19-year-old pitching, in most cases, to hitters that were two years, and sometimes 3 years, his senior. In 89.1 innings, Tyler scored a 2.92 ERA giving up 62 hits, 29 earned runs, and 6 homeruns to go with 62 walks and 88 strikeouts. The fact that he missed bats with a 23.4% K rate was the impressive part, but 16.5% BB rate and 39% Groundball percentage showed a lack of command of the youngster’s highly-touted stuff. And even the 2.92 ERA had to be questioned due to the 4.63 FIP. Here is what we said about Matzek in our Top 100 list at the beginning of April of 2011:
92. Tyler Matzek SP COL – Matzek was clearly a top talent coming out of High School and it was considered a coup that the Rockies were able to sign him away from a commitment to Oregon regardless of the high bonus. Matzek has a great frame and plus plus fastball. The downside is that he doesn’t repeat his delivery and his mechanics are still a work in progress. Because of this his command suffers drastically and his development of his secondaries has not come along. Still uber toolsy so I won’t cast aside. Yet.
You can see from the video that he has a smooth delivery and good timing as he approached the plate. He isn’t as direct to the plate as he could be. You will notice that his foot plants to the first base side of the pitching rubber and causes him to throw across his body. There is a little concern for injury with this but the trade off is that he creates deception by hiding the ball better throughout his delivery. From there the fastball explodes from his hand. Another thing that you notice is that the arm slot can be irratic which changes the trajectory of the pitch and can, in some cases, tip the hitter off to a certain pitch. A repeatable arm slot is preferred.
So what we have here, interestingly enough, is a player who needs to be coached with a different approach from any other pitcher on the staff. Asheville Pitching Coach Joey Eischen now has to become familar with new “lingo” that includes references to “drive lines” and “pronation”. And how does this change as Matzek is promoted to higher levels? Will the special treatment serve as a distraction? Colorado Rockies management seems to have gotten themselves in a situation where they have to submit to a pitching discipline that they don’t subscribe to because they draft a kid whose confidence is derived from it. I wonder if they had the choice if they would bid him away from Oregon with that record sum again. Well, I suppose that may depend on Tyler Matzek reaches his #1 starter ceiling. By all accounts, Tyler’s terrible numbers have plateaued. For the rest of the 2011 season, he increased the K rate to 26.5% and cut down his walks to a still ugly 17.9%. And, on top of that, he’s showing more confidence. Keep in mind that he is again facing less experienced competition. But 2012, will be a big step in determining what is next for the young lefty.
Check back soon as we profile many more Top MLB Prospects and also get our baseball geek on and take a look at some of the later draft picks from the 2011 draft that we think could be big names on the prospect radars in the near future. While you’re here, take a look at our recent article in our top 10 series: Houston Astros Top 10 Prospects List and be a step ahead of the game. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now firstname.lastname@example.org.