Mets Draft Steven Matz of Ward Melville

steven-matz-melvilleThe Mets did not own a first-round pick in this year’s amateur draft, having surrendered it to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in return for signing Francisco Rodriguez. However, they drafted a first-round talent with their late second-round (72nd overall) choice: local boy Steven Matz of East Setauket, NY.

Matz is a rangy, 6’3″, lefthanded pitcher with a 90-MPH fastball and good rotation on an overhand curve. He dominated while hurling for Ward Melville High School, striking out 81 in 44 innings, allowing just 11 hits. And so the legend begins … or will it?

How could a southpaw with those stats fall all the way to the 72nd choice? Signability, of course. The 18-year-old is committed to Coastal Carolina, where coach Gary Gilmore believes Matz “can do for this program and maybe more than what Kirt Manwaring did for it.”

That’s a telling statement. If you don’t know / remember Kirt Manwaring, he was a longtime MLB catcher from 1987-1999 and a one-time Gold Glove winner, and his MLB status put the CC baseball program on the map. (Ironically, Manwaring is also a New York native, from Elmira.) In other words, Matz is already being counted on to be “the face of the program”, and will need to be overwhelmed to renounce his commitment to Coastal Carolina — to the tune of one million dollars.

Will the Mets be willing to go that high? You’d have to think so, considering that, if they had a first-round pick, they’d have to spend at least that much. But, they’ve traditionally played the role of good soldier and followed Herr Selig’s slotting system, and the commissioner / MCP has reportedly cut the “recommended” bonuses by ten percent this year. A million bucks is probably above the “slot” for a late second round pick — will the Mets be so bold as to buck the Budsystem and shell out the dough to sign their next Scott Kazmir?

Considering that the Mets have been harshly criticized by several media pundits for their steadfast refusal to go against the slotting guidelines, they may break the rules this year for no other reason than to quiet the critics (not unlike last year’s media-driven play of promoting Nick Evans and Dan Murphy from AA as a response to Baseball America’s negative analysis of the Mets’ farm system). Hey, if that’s what it takes to sign a lanky local lefty with a promising future, so be it. The Mets need all the young arms they can find, and Steven Matz would provide both a legit talent and a good story to follow.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude June 10, 2009 at 9:25 am
    If the Mets knew it would take $1-mil to sign him when they drafted him, I can’t imagine them not ponying up the cash. Otherwise, their highest draft pick was for nothing if they were going to follow the slotting system all along.
  2. Mike C June 10, 2009 at 12:15 pm
    When do they have to sign him by? Can he play a year in college and sign a contract before the next draft?
  3. joejanish June 10, 2009 at 12:24 pm
    The Mets have until the day Matz sets foot in a classroom, presumably in September if he chooses to attend CC.

    If by chance he chooses not to go to school, the Mets would retain his rights until next June’s draft.

  4. mic June 10, 2009 at 2:59 pm
    it would be good if he signed early enough to go to brooklyn and not lose a year. As a 2nd rnd pick he should get well rewarded but i guess the dominos must fall first. Nonetheless lets say congratulations for a smart pick.
  5. Cleon Jones June 10, 2009 at 3:38 pm
    We have to sign this guy: he’s destined to throw the first Mets no-hitter as the fans are chanting “Let’s Go Matz!”
  6. Kevin Rodgers June 10, 2009 at 7:51 pm
    ya well Steve Matz goes to my HS and i have to say this kids a monster on the mound. Just a total beast. haha hes just going to plow through the NL and he can hit the shit out of the ball so ya the Mets are just perfect for him.
  7. thomas labarbera June 18, 2009 at 4:04 pm
    yea i know ive seen him play hes so good, that guy kevin im good friends with justin plank and he said that he will be a good fit to the mets
  8. derek labarbera July 8, 2009 at 5:26 pm
    Shut up Tom you never seen him pitch lol
  9. Cory bauer July 22, 2009 at 11:37 am
    Matz commited to Coastal Carolina University and the classes start the 19th of August, he reported to freshman orientation last week with a warm welcome. He said hes still waiting for a response from the Mets (1.1 mill), but I just dont get why they are waiting this long if they really want him like ive heard.
  10. joejanish July 22, 2009 at 11:41 am
    Cory, thanks for the update!

    I’ll do some followup research and try to see what’s going on.

  11. sean August 10, 2009 at 1:35 pm
    any update on Matz signing or foing to CC?