Steven Matz grew up a Met fan. Now he’s a Met. If that sounds pretty cool to you, it did to Matz on Tuesday too, not long after agreeing to a $895,000 contract to begin his professional career as the Mets first pick at #72 overall in the second round of the 2009 amateur baseball draft.
“When I heard I was drafted by the Mets, I was just thrilled. I’ve been a Met fan since I was young and my my family and my grandparents are huge Mets fans,” he said. He was clearly enjoying the surroundings, but hadn’t yet fully processed his transition from Mets fan to Met, “It’s surreal,” he told reporters Tuesday evening from the Mets dugout in Citi Field, wearing a pinstriped Mets jersey over his blue polo shirt. “It’s really starting to set in with all of this media around, but it’s awesome.” As for where this day ranked among the others of his short life, Matz smiled, and said without hesitation “it’s number one.”
Matz, who added velocity this spring and now is in the low 90s often, credited both hard work over the winter and a well-timed growth spurt. He also tried to add a new pitch, without much success “late in the winter, we were slowly developing a slider, but I’m still getting used to it. I stayed mostly with the fastball, curveball and changeup.” The added life on the fastball attracted the Mets, but it was the whole package from Matz that really attracted the club. Director of Amateur Scouting, Rudy Terrasas explained, “The first thing that we were really impressed with Steven was his size, he’s 6’4”, 195, and he’s lefthanded. We liked his delivery. We liked his arm action. We liked the athleticism. We liked the way he competed.”
The same trait that the Mets saw in Matz, Matz sees in his favorite Met. “My newest favorite Met is Johan Santana,” he said, “I just love the way he pitches and competes in general.”
Moreover, Terrasas described the universal positive opinion held in the Mets scouting department for Matz: “Myself, Sandy Johnson, our area scout, Larry Izzo, we spent several days this spring scouting Steven and to a man, everyone came away saying they liked what they saw and they really liked what he brought to the table.”
Matz will head down to the Mets complex in Port St. Lucie Florida and join the Gulf Coast League team, possibly as early as Friday. However, it appears unlikely that he will appear in a minor league game before season’s end. As for playing in a game, Terrasas left a little wiggle room, saying, “We want to make sure that we bring him along slowly, so possibly, but I really doubt it.”
Bob Herzog in Newsday does a terrific job talking to those around Matz, including his old coaches like Ward-Melville’s Lou Petrucci “You get one of these kids in a lifetime,” Petrucci said. “This is my lifetime kid.”
Mets.com also chatted with the happy parents.