Red Sox Feel Good About Fast-Tracking Bryan Mata
Rarely does an 18-year-old jump directly from the Dominican Summer League to a full-season affiliate. But in his short career, righthander Bryan Mata,who signed out of Venezuela in January 2016, has distinguished himself.
"He’s someone who just really continues to stand out,” farm director Ben Crockett said. "He’s shown quite a bit of consistency for a kid his age.”
Mata impressed last year in the DSL with a three-pitch mix—an 89-93 mph fastball that he throws with downward angle, along with both a curveball and changeup that flashed average. He recorded a 2.80 ERA with 61 strikeouts and 19 walks in 61 innings, and down the stretch, he posted a 1.55 ERA over his final 12 regular-season and playoff starts.
Mata continued to impress both in spring training—where the Red Sox started to recognize that he was putting himself in the running for a rotation spot at low Class A Greenville—and through extended spring training. That convinced Boston to move him to the South Atlantic League on May 26.
"After two months of throwing strikes, showing stuff and command as well as maturity, we felt like we were in a good place to send him up,” Crockett said. "We’re going to really challenge him a bit. We felt like with his makeup, (the assignment) was warranted.”
After giving up a homer to the first batter he faced in the SAL, Mata allowed one run over his next nine innings spanning two starts, striking out nine and walking four.
The 6-foot-3 righthander has a starter’s build and delivery, and he’s shown the three-pitch mix to stay in the rotation. The development of his secondary pitches will determine whether he emerges as a starter or a reliever with closer potential.
At 18, Mata has plenty of time to establish which path he’ll take, but to date, he has shown the aptitude to force discussions about an aggressive timetable.
— Alex Speier covers the Red Sox for the Boston Globe