For the fifth year in a row, Bryan Mata was one of the top 10 prospects in the Red Sox’s farm system as assessed by MLB Pipeline, and is expected to be on the list for the sixth straight year this year. So yes, he’s been in jeopardy for some time.
Finally, sometime in 2023, there may be nothing stopping the big light from completing his development and reaching the major leagues.
A major drag was Tommy John surgery, which wiped out 21 seasons for Mata, and last year saw him regain his sense of pitching.
Look for 23-year-old Mata (Boston’s #6 prospect) to start the season at Triple-A Worcester.
“A guy with his size, the work he puts in, the stuff, nothing beats that kind of excitement for a starter,” said Brian Abraham, director of player development for the Red Sox. Excited to see the work he’s put into this offseason comes to spring training healthy and ready to make an impact at the higher levels.
Do you know one of Brian Mata’s biggest fans? A guy named Chris Sale.
“I’m a pitcher so I’m biased, but I love watching Mata pitch,” Sale said. “I was with him [in Fort Myers, Fla.] Tommy John in rehab. We did rehab together and I saw him really turn the corner. That man’s smile can brighten up a room. he is a good teammate You can tell by the way he acts that he really wants it. ”
Mata brightened up when Sale’s praise was conveyed to him for the rookie development program being held by the Red Sox in Boston this week.
“I really appreciate spending time with him,” said Mata. “As you know, he attended some of my bullpens. Having a high pitcher there to give advice is a big deal to me, and I don’t take that lightly.”
What’s the best piece of advice Mata received from Sale?
“The biggest thing he mentioned was putting in honest day-to-day work and letting the results speak for themselves,” Mata said.
Mata’s performance last year was impressive considering he didn’t pitch in 2021.
Upon completing his rehabilitation duties, Mata officially began his minor league season with Double-A Portland, posting a 1.85 ERA in 10 games and striking out 58 in 48 2/3 innings.
He was then promoted to Worcester and finished with a solid 5-start run (2-0, 3.47 ERA, .224 against the opponents).
Spring training will be his next big test. Mata’s arsenal is led by his heater, which sits in the mid-to-late 90s, complemented by sliders, curves and changeups.
What do the Red Sox look for in a rating?
“I think it’s really important to command the zone,” Abraham said. “To be challenged in the zone. You can’t get away from painting corners in the big leagues. They have a great eye for the plate and a great approach, so you have to challenge these guys. It’s very important to know that he can be challenged and that he can always outsmart his staff in the zone.”
Taking a bit of the game away from him gave Mata an extra perspective.
“Yeah, the last two years have been tough, but I haven’t been able to play at the same time, so it’s kind of like taking inventory of what I’m doing well and what I’m not doing well,” Mata said. of what I spent that time on. ”
Mata hopes his time in the major leagues is finally close to coming to fruition.