Farm report: L.I.'s Matz flirts with no-no

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
9:30
AM ET
Left-hander Steven Matz took a no-hit bid two outs into the sixth inning in his latest start for Class A St. Lucie, when a bunt single by Fort Myers’ Levi Michael ended that pursuit.

“I’m not really sure how it would have panned out,” said Matz, noting the staff likely would not have let him try to complete the game anyway and disregard a pitch limit.

As for a bunt breaking up the bid, Matz added: “It was a little frustrating. But he’s got to do what he’s got to do. It’s a 2-0 game in the sixth. He’s a leadoff hitter anyway, so I guess that’s part of his game.”


Courtesy of New York MetsSteven Matz


A Stony Brook, Long Island, native, Matz is one of three New Yorkers on St Lucie’s roster. His batterymate in that no-hit bid was Hicksville product Cam Maron. Bronx-raised T.J. Rivera plays first and second base and currently leads the Florida State League in batting average at .400.

Matz and Maron played against each other in summer ball on Long Island growing up -- Matz with the Storm and Maron with the Astros. They currently are roommates with St. Lucie.

“New York is flourishing on this team,” Matz said.

Matz, added to the 40-man roster last winter, definitely opened eyes in big-league camp despite having no experience above low-A ball entering this season. One scout compared him to Jeremy Affeldt at the same age. Another scout suggested Matz could have seamlessly bypassed the Florida State League and jumped to Double-A Binghamton to open this season. (That was not a consideration because the Mets wanted to start Matz in warm weather after he missed most of his first two pro seasons with a lengthy recovery from Tommy John surgery.)

Matz, the Mets’ top pick in the 2009 draft (second round, 72nd overall), tossed two scoreless Grapefruit League innings while in big-league camp. He surrendered one two hits and one walk while striking out five in a pair of appearances against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Matz struck out Yadier Molina, the first batter the young southpaw ever faced in a Grapefruit League game.

A scout at that game had Matz at 94-95 mph with a high changeup at 85 mph and a rolling curveball at 78-80 mph.

“Facing him was pretty cool -- just the whole atmosphere, being around big-league guys,” Matz said. “The St. Louis Cardinals were in the World Series last year. And I’m in the other dugout.”

So far this season, Matz is 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in three starts. He has logged 18 innings and allowed 14 hits, three walks and a hit batsmen while striking out 17.

“This year I really want to focus on going deeper into games,” said Matz, who logged 106 1/3 innings in 21 regular-season starts with Savannah in 2013. “Last year, especially the first half of the year, I wasn’t very efficient with my pitches. My walks were up a little bit (3.2 per nine innings) -- not crazy.

“My last outing I was pretty happy with how many groundballs I was able to get. My walks have been down. So I’m happy with that.”

The best news with Matz is that Tommy John surgery is now an afterthought. He underwent the ligament-replacement procedure on May 18, 2010. Because of a long recovery, he did not appear in his first regular-season minor-league game until June 20, 2012.

“It’s definitely in the rearview mirror,” Matz said. “I’ve got a good season and a half under my belt. My elbow hasn’t given me any problems at all. I really don’t even think about it much anymore.”

Organization leaders

Average: Allan Dykstra, Vegas, .419; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, .400; Brandon Nimmo, St. Lucie, .380; Matt Reynolds, Binghamton, .364; Matt Clark, Binghamton, .354; Eric Campbell, Vegas, .346; Dilson Herrera, St. Lucie, .338; Jeff McNeil, Savannah, .333; Darrell Ceciliani, Binghamton, .327; Zach Lutz, Vegas, .299.

Homers: Brian Burgamy, Binghamton, 4; Matt Clark, Binghamton, 4.

RBIs: T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, 21; Eric Campbell, Vegas, 18; Allan Dykstra, Vegas, 18; Aderlin Rodriguez, St. Lucie, 15.

Steals: Patrick Biondi, Savannah, 5; Jared King, Savannah, 4; Jeff McNeil, Savannah, 4; Stefan Sabol, Savannah, 4.

ERA: Hansel Robles, Binghamton, 1.23; Rainy Lara, Binghamton, 1.47; Robert Gsellman, Savannah, 1.56; Jacob deGrom, Vegas, 1.57; Steven Matz, St. Lucie, 2.00; Darin Gorski, Binghamton, 2.30; John Gant, Savannah, 3.50; Rafael Montero, Vegas, 3.80; Luis Cessa, St. Lucie, 4.24; Matt Koch, St. Lucie, 4.86.

Wins: Josh Edgin, Vegas, 3.

Saves: Jeff Walters, Vegas, 5; Chasen Bradford, Binghamton, 3; Randy Fontanez, St. Lucie, 3; Robert Coles, Savannah, 2; Beck Wheeler, St. Lucie, 2.

Strikeouts: Rafael Montero, Vegas, 24; Jacob deGrom, Vegas, 21; Dana Eveland, Vegas, 20; Hansel Robles, Binghamton, 19; Darin Gorski, Binghamton, 18.

Short hops

• First baseman Allan Dykstra was named Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for the period ending Sunday. Dykstra is a former first-round pick of the Padres under Paul DePodesta, who was part of a change-of-scenery trade for Eddie Kunz on March 29, 2011. Dykstra’s .419 average ranks seventh in all of minor-league baseball. His .561 on-base percentage ranks first. Dykstra, 26, was playing winter ball with Magallanes in Venezuela when he suffered a fractured fibula on Nov. 14.

• After deliberation, the Mets decided to have 18-year-old Dominic Smith break camp with low-A Savannah rather than have the 2013 first-round pick remain in extended spring training (like 2012 first-round pick Gavin Cecchini had done the previous year). So far, Smith is off to a slow start with the Gnats. The first baseman is hitting .175 (10-for-57) with five walks and no extra-base hits through 16 games.

• Fans can catch Smith and Cecchini with the Gnats this weekend in their only Northeast appearance of the season. Savannah has a four-game series at Lakewood, N.J., beginning Thursday.

• Lefty-throwing Charley Thurber, a 39th-round pick out of the University of Tennessee in 2011 as an outfielder, is converting to pitching in extended spring training. Thurber, 24, hit .227 with five homers and 39 RBIs in 277 at-bats with St. Lucie in 2013. The Mets had seen Thurber throw off a mound during a pre-draft workout, although the Elmira, N.Y., native was not a pitcher for the Vols.

• First baseman Brandon Allen, who suffered a calf strain and was confined to a boot in big-league camp during spring training, should join Las Vegas soon. Allen has appeared in four games with St. Lucie since returning from the injury (two at first base, one at DH and one in right field). The 28-year-old lefty hitter has appeared in 116 big-league games over four seasons with the Diamondbacks, Athletics and Rays.

Noah Syndergaard has a 4.95 ERA through four starts with Vegas, although Mets personnel suggest those struggles are just an inevitable adjustment period to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

• Although the Mets do plan to expose Vegas pitchers such as Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero to relief work in Triple-A, that is not coming imminently. DeGrom is off to a particularly hot start with the 51s. He is 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA in four starts. In 23 innings, he has allowed 16 hits and six walks while striking out 21. He has surrendered only one homer.

Zack Thornton, the right-handed reliever acquired from the Pirates in the trade for Ike Davis, made his Mets debut with Vegas on Sunday. He allowed a solo homer and two other hits while striking out one in two innings.
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
11 3.85 125 161
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .297
HRL. Duda 22
RBIL. Duda 66
RD. Murphy 69
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.49
SOZ. Wheeler 145