For the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April, Red Sox pitching prospect Brayan Mata faced off against batters from another organization on Thursday, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.
Down in Fort Myers, Mata threw two innings in an extended spring training game. The right-hander did not allow a run or hit over those two frames while recording five strikeouts, two walks, and topping out at 100 mph with his fastball.
Mata, 23, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks fifth among pitchers in the organization.
Originally signed out of Venezuela for just $25,000 in 2016, Mata was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster in November 2020. The following spring, it seemed as though the righty had a good chance to break camp in Triple-A Worcester’s starting rotation before it was revealed he would require season-ending surgery.
Fast forward 13 months, and Mata is back on the mound and working his way towards getting into minor-league games again. Per Speier, Mata will likely begin a rehab assignment in early June, when the Florida Complex League season begins.
From there, the Red Sox plan to keep Mata on a starter’s schedule and get to a point where they could possibly pair him with fellow right-hander Brayan Bello in Worcester this summer.
Prior to going under the knife, the 6-foot-3 and 229 pound hurler worked with a five-pitch mix that consisted of a 94-96 mph four-seam fastball, a 91-93 mph two-seam fastball, an 86-90 mph slider, a 78-80 mph curveball, and an 84-86 changeup.
There were some questions whether Mata could stick as a starter or would be better suited for a move to the bullpen. But, as noted by Speier, he is considered to have a high ceiling in either role.
While the Red Sox will understandably take their time when it comes to his rehab, the possibility remains that Mata — who is already on Boston’s 40-man roster — could make his major-league debut by the end of the 2022 season if all goes well.
(Picture of Bryan Mata: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)