Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata is slated to begin a rehab assignment with Low-A Salem and could start for the affiliate as soon as this weekend, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.
Mata, who underwent Tommy John surgery last April, pitched in three extended spring training games down in Fort Myers over the last few weeks. Per Speier, the right-hander “showed elite velocity in his first outing” by topping out at 101 mph over two innings, then worked at “just” 99 mph in his second outing and 98 mph in his third.
Originally signed by the Red Sox for just $25,000 out of Venezuela in January 2016, Mata is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks fifth among pitchers in the organization.
After posting a 3.43 ERA in 21 starts (105 innings pitched) between then-High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2019 and impressing at the alternate training site in 2020, Mata was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster that November.
Coming into spring training last year, Mata was likely going to begin the season with Triple-A Worcester. He instead tore his ulnar collateral ligament in March, which ultimately required him to go under the knife.
Now 23 years old, Mata has a chance to get to Worcester once again. Pre-surgery, the 6-foot-3, 229 pound righty 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 also some questions regarding Mata’s future. In other words, would he be best-suited as a starter or reliever in the long-term? These next few months could help determine that, though he should have a high ceiling regardless of which role he ultimately undertakes.
When Mata does take the mound for Salem, it will mark the first time he has pitched in an official minor-league game since August 2019. The Red Sox will be sure to exhibit patience with Mata during this process, but the hope seems to be that he will end the season in Worcester or maybe even in Boston.
(Picture of Bryan Mata: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)