Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata reaches 100 mph in first competitive action since undergoing Tommy John surgery

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)

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata nearing return from Tommy John surgery

Red Sox pitching prospect is nearing his return to the mound and will soon start throwing live batting practice, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Mata, who turns 23 next month, underwent Tommy John surgery last April after slightly tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow during spring training. The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Originally signed out of Venezuela for just $25,000 as an international free agent in 2016, Mata comes into the 2022 season regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in the Red Sox’ farm system, ranking second among pitchers in the organization behind only Brayan Bello.

While continuing to rehab from Tommy John surgery this spring, Mata was seen throwing off flat ground and going through drills on the back fields of the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers.

As noted by Speier, Mata is expected to join Triple-A Worcester’s starting rotation at some point this season. The right-hander is already a member of Boston’s 40-man roster, so him contributing at the big-league level later in the year is not out of the picture, either.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 229 pounds, Mata operates with a five-pitch mix that consists 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, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

That, of course, was before Mata underwent elbow reconstruction one year ago. If he can retain that arsenal to some degree, the righty — as Speier writes — could “could emerge as a mid- to late-year bullpen option” for the Red Sox.

(Picture of Bryan Mata: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward undergoes Tommy John surgery

Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward underwent Tommy John surgery on Thursday, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. The procedure was performed by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.

Ward, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 10 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks fourth among pitchers in the organization.

The right-hander opened the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland, where he allowed five runs on 11 hits, five walks, and 11 strikeouts over his first two starts and eight innings pitched prior to being placed on the injured list due to a forearm strain.

Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Ward “visited multiple doctors in recent weeks before surgery was recommended.”

Selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Central Florida, Ward emerged as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects thanks in part to posting a 2.14 ERA over 25 starts (126 1/3 innings) between Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem during his first full professional season in 2019.

While he did not pitch in 2020 on account of the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the minor-league season, the Florida native did receive an invite to big-league spring training this year before getting reassigned to minor-league camp in early March.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 193 pounds, Ward — who works with a sinker, cutter, slider, changeup, and curveball — will miss the rest of the 2021 campaign and likely the majority of 2022 as well considering the typical timetable for pitchers to come back from Tommy John surgery is anywhere between 12-15 months.

Ward undergoing Tommy John is the latest instance of the Red Sox’ minor-league pitching depth taking a major hit so far this year.

Bryan Mata, the top pitching prospect in the system, underwent Tommy John surgery in April. Tanner Houck, the No. 3 pitching prospect in the system, has been on the injured list with a flexor muscle strain.

Connor Seabold, the No. 5 pitching prospect in the system, has been on the injured list with elbow inflammation. Eduard Bazardo, the 27th-ranked prospect in the system according to MLB Pipeline, has been on the injured list with a lat strain.

For the Red Sox, the silver lining with Ward is that they likely won’t need to add the young righty to their 40-man roster in November even though he will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time this winter.

(Picture of Thaddeus Ward: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox shut down right-hander Tanner Houck due to sore flexor muscle

The Red Sox have shut down right-hander Tanner Houck due to a sore flexor muscle, manager Alex Cora announced Sunday morning.

Per Cora, Houck first felt discomfort during his last start for Triple-A Worcester, which was also the WooSox’ first game of the season in Trenton on May 4.

Houck lasted just three innings in his first start for Worcester this past Tuesday, allowing three runs on eight hits, no walks, and four strikeouts on 69 pitches (45 strikes).

The 24-year-old came in the following day experiencing soreness in his flexor muscle, which resulted in him being shut down.

“We’re not overly concerned,” Cora said. “This happened in his last start. The next day, he came in sore. He’s actually feeling better right now. But of course, we’re going to shut him down.”

Houck, who turns 25 next month, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 3 pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system.

The former first-round draft pick made his major-league debut for the Sox last September and has posted a 1.98 ERA over six outings (five starts) since then.

This year alone, Houck has allowed seven runs (five earned) on 14 hits, one walk, and 12 strikeouts in three appearances (two starts) spanning 10 1/3 total innings of work.

While the Red Sox do not seem too concerned about Houck’s status moving forward, the fact that he has been shut down now means that the club is without their top two rotation depth options at the minor-league level for the time being.

That being the case because in addition to Houck being shut down, fellow right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold was placed on the injured list last Monday with right elbow inflammation.

The Sox did not seem too worried that Seabold would miss a significant amount of time, either, but his absence becomes more significant since Houck has been sidelined as well.

On top of those two, Bryan Mata, the organization’s top pitching prospect, underwent Tommy John surgery last month. So it goes without saying that Boston’s starting rotation depth has taken somewhat of a hit these past few weeks.

Still, as previously mentioned, the Red Sox seem optimistic that in Houck’s case, the righty will not be shut down for long.

“There’s no timetable, but this is something that we feel is going to be short-term,” said Cora. “It’s not something that we are overly concerned, but that’s where we’re at right now.”

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Top Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata undergoes Tommy John surgery

Top Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata has undergone Tommy John surgery, the team announced Wednesday. The procedure was done by Dr. Neal ElAttrache at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, Calif. on Tuesday.

Mata, who turns 22 next month, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking tops among pitchers in the organization.

The young right-hander was added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in November 2019 and — after spending 2020 at the Sox’ alternate training site and fall instructional league — came into the 2021 season with the chance to make his big-league debut later in the year.

During the early stages of spring training, though, Mata experienced soreness behind his right triceps and would later be diagnosed with a slightly torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow.

Because of that ailment, the 6-foot-3, 227 pound hurler was shut down for an extended period of time as the Sox initially opted for treatment as opposed to surgery.

After a few weeks of rest, Mata was able to restart his throwing program earlier this month, but must have suffered a recent setback and — as noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith — “was shut down again sometime in the past seven days.”

Originally signed by the Sox out of Venezuela for just $25,000 back in January 2016, Mata has compiled a career 3.40 ERA and 1.35 WHIP over 69 starts and 315 total innings of work across four minor-league levels since making his pro debut. The highest level he has reached thus far is Double-A Portland.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Mata’s pitch mix consists of a 94-96 mph fastball that sat at 96-97 mph at the alternate site last year, an 86-90 mph slider, a 78-80 mph curveball, and an 84-86 mph changeup.

Pitchers typically take anywhere between 12 to 15 months to recover from Tommy John surgery, so it’s likely Mata will not be making his return to the field until sometime next summer at the earliest.

(Picture of Bryan Mata: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Top Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata returns to throwing program after suffering slight UCL tear in early March

After suffering a slight tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in early March, Red Sox top pitching prospect Bryan Mata has recently restarted his throwing program, manager Alex Cora said earlier Sunday morning.

Mata, who experienced soreness behind his right triceps during the early stages of spring training, underwent an MRI last month that revealed a slight tear in his UCL.

At that time, the right-hander was to be shut down for at least three weeks as the Sox opted for rest and treatment as opposed to surgery.

Since then, Mata has apparently been progressing at a steady pace. On March 24, Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush revealed that the young hurler would “get back into a throwing program before too long” to test out his elbow.

On April 4, Cora revealed that Mata had indeed restarted his throwing program.

“He started his throwing program towards the end [of camp],” Cora said Sunday. “I’m not sure where he’s at right now as far as [distance], but I know he started his throwing program when we left camp.”

Mata, who turns 22 in May, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No.4 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking tops among pitchers in the organization.

The 6-foot-3, 227 pounder out of Venezuela was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster in November 2019. With no minor-league season in 2020, the righty spent his year developing at the club’s alternate training site — where his fastball reached 97 mph — and fall instructional league and was viewed as arguably the top starting rotation depth option the Red Sox had to offer at the minor-league level.

With this recent setback, though, it would seem to be in the Sox’ best interest to not rush Mata back and instead see how he responds to the throwing program he has recently started again before determining the next steps in this rehab process.

(Picture of Bryan Mata: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata ‘will get back into a throwing program before too long to test’ out elbow following slight UCL tear

Earlier this month, an MRI revealed that top Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata suffered a slight tear in his right ulnar collateral ligament after he experienced soreness behind his right triceps.

At that time, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said the plan would be to shut down Mata for an extended period before treating his injury without surgery.

It’s been a little less than three weeks since Cora revealed these plans regarding Mata’s road to recovery, and Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush provided an update Wednesday afternoon on how the 21-year-old right-hander is holding up.

“He’s in a rehab protocol right now,” Bush said. “There’s some strengthening exercises they’re doing. A whole variety. I’m not even sure exactly what they all are. But he will get back into a throwing program before too long to test it out and build from there. I don’t have a lot of specifics on it just because he’s [spent] more time with the trainers lately. Certainly he’s not throwing, not on the mound. But I still see him every day. He’s in here every day doing his rehab work and working back towards the throwing program.”

Mata, who turns 22 in May, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking tops among pitchers in the organization.

The Venezuelan hurler — listed at 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds — spent the entirety of the 2020 season at the Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester, where his fastball sat between 96-97 mph.

He also took part in the club’s fall instructional league and came into the spring projected to begin the 2021 campaign at the alternate site, which is now in Worcester, with the chance to perhaps make his big-league debut later this year.

Now that he has been sidelined for the time being, though, the Red Sox will have to look elsewhere for internal starting rotation depth.

“With Bryan Mata on the IL right now, I’d probably say Connor Seabold is in that mix,” said Bush. “We also have a handful of minor league free agents that we signed. Some of them we signed last year and had at the alternate site.”

Stephen Gonsalves, Daniel Gossett, Kyle Hart, and Matt Hall were among the pitchers Bush named who are not currently on Boston’s 40-man roster but do have big-league experience.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, this group of pitchers will likely start out the year at the alternate training site.

“So we have a clump of guys that we’re going to get stretched out in Worcester,” Bush said. “And [we will] have them available for whatever we need, whenever we need it.”

(Picture of Bryan Mata: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata has slight tear in his UCL

The MRI Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata underwent on Thursday revealed a slight tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, manager Alex Cora announced Saturday morning.

Mata, 21, was originally slated to pitch in Wednesday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Twins, but was ultimately scratched from that appearance due to soreness behind his right triceps.

After undergoing that aforementioned MRI the following day, it turns out that Mata has a slightly torn UCL. The Red Sox will try to treat the ailment without surgery for the time being.

“Unfortunately with Bryan, he has a slight tear in his UCL,” Cora told reporters earlier Saturday. “So we’re going to shut him down. The way we’re going to go with him is going to be treatment. The doctors and the physicians feel that it’s small enough that with treatment and doing that, he should be fine.”

A fiery right-hander out of Venezuela, Mata came into spring training as the top pitching prospect — and the No. 4 overall prospect — in the Red Sox farm system according to Baseball America.

There is currently no timetable set for his return, but it would appear that the Sox have already created a roadmap of sorts for their young hurler.

“There’s no timetable,” said Cora. “There’s going to be a few checkpoints throughout the process, and if he’s disciplined and follows everything that we are set to do, the hope is for him to come back.”

Boston originally signed Mata out of Venezuela for just $25,000 back in early 2016. Since making his pro debut later that year, the 6-foot-3, 238 lb. righty has compiled a 3.40 ERA and 1.35 WHIP over 69 career starts spanning 315 innings pitched across four minor-league levels.

With there being no minor-league season in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and all, Mata spent time at both the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket and fall instructional league in Fort Myers last year. He was added to the club’s 40-man roster in November.

Given how he has risen through the prospect ranks, it appeared that Mata was primed to make his big-league debut at some point this season, but that may now have to wait due to this unexpected hurdle.

“As you guys know, he’s very important for us,” said Cora. “It’s a tough one, but at the same time we do believe that he’s going to bounce back and he’s going to be OK.”

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Mata’s pitch mix consists of a high-octane fastball, a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. His fastball sat between 96-97 mph at the alternate site over the summer and tops out at 100 mph.

“Obviously we have to be patient and see how he reacts,” Cora said in regards to Mata’s road to recovery. ““When you start talking about the UCL, obviously it’s something that we don’t feel comfortable, of course, because it’s the UCL. We’ve just got to be patient. And he has to be patient. He’s young enough that probably everything’s going fast for him right now. But he’s mature enough, too, to understand that these things happen over the course of your career. He did an amazing job in the offseason to get in shape and get his arm where it’s supposed to be. It’s an obstacle in his career. But we do feel like he’s going to bounce back and he’s going to be OK.”

(Picture of Bryan Mata: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox add top pitching prospect Bryan Mata, 6 others to 40-man roster ahead of Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox added seven minor-leaguers to their 40-man roster on Friday in order to protect them from being eligible for this December’s Rule 5 Draft.

Right-handers Bryan Mata, Connor Seabold, and Eduard Bazardo, left-hander Jay Groome, catcher Connor Wong, infielder Hudson Potts, and outfielder Jeisson Rosario were all added to Boston’s 40-man roster.

Going into Friday, the Sox’ 40-man roster was at 36 players, meaning three players had to be removed in order to make room for the seven names mentioned above.

The three players removed from Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday were left-handers Kyle Hart and Matt Hall, and right-hander Ryan Weber. Hart has been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, while Hall and Weber were designated for assignment.

Both Hart and Hall made their Red Sox debuts in 2020, and both struggled mightily in limited action.

In what was his first taste of the big-leagues, the soon-to-be 27-year-old Hart allowed 15 runs (13 earned) on 17 hits and 10 walks over just nine innings pitched through his first three starts after getting called up in mid-August.

A demotion to the bullpen did not do any wonders for the former 19th-round draft pick either, as he surrendered six earned runs over two innings of relief against the Braves on September 1 before his season came to an end a day later due to a left hip impingement.

Hall, meanwhile, was acquired by Boston in a trade that sent minor-league catcher Jhon Nunez to the Tigers back in January.

The 27-year-old looked impressive at summer camp, but that did not translate well to his first season with the Sox.

Making just four appearances (one start), the southpaw posted a dismal 18.69 ERA and 7.92 FIP in 8 2/3 innings of work.

As for Weber, this comes as somewhat of a surprise considering the notion that the Red Sox have always seemingly been high on him as well as the fact that he held opponents to a .656 OPS against over his last 14 outings (two starts) of the year.

Still, the 30-year-old hurler’s 2020 season had plenty of down moments as well, and it appears that Boston no longer deems him worthy of a 40-man roster spot.

Because they were designated for assignment, Hall and Weber will have to clear waivers if they are return to the Red Sox in a lesser capacity unless they opt for free agency instead.

So, the removals of Hart, Hall, and Weber decreased the Sox’ 40-man roster size to 33, thus opening the gateway for all seven of Bazardo, Groome, Mata, Potts, Rosario, Seabold, and Wong to be added Friday evening.

Groome, Mata, Potts, Rosario, Seabold, and Wong were all expected to be protected from this winter’s Rule 5 Draft, leaving Bazardo as the most interesting addition listed here.

The 25-year-old was actually eligible for last year’s Rule 5 Draft, too, but he did not get selected.

Despite not being added to the Sox’ 60-man player pool at any point in time this past season, Bazardo impressed enough at fall instructs to earn himself a spot on the 40-man.

The Venezuela native originally signed with Boston for just $8,000 as an international free agent in 2014.

Most recently, he posted a 2.21 ERA and .206 batting average against in 38 total relief appearances and 73 1/3 innings pitched between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2019.

Listed at 6-foot and 155 lbs., Bazardo could very well make his major-league debut out of the Red Sox bullpen at some point next season. He certainly will be one of the more fascinating hurlers to monitor during spring training once camp breaks in February.

With Friday’s round of transactions complete, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is now at full capacity at 40 players. That does not mean that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will continue to make moves, though, as this could make for an eventful winter depending on how the free agent and trade market plays out.

Long story short, Bloom and the Red Sox are not close to done in terms of 2021 roster construction. There will be plenty more to come.

Red Sox believe top pitching prospects Bryan Mata, Connor Seabold will be big-league ready by next July

By this time Friday night, the Red Sox will have added six or seven minor-leaguers to their 40-man roster in order to protect said minor-leaguers from this year’s Rule 5 Draft in December.

Among the handful of eligible prospects who will presumably be added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday are right-handers Bryan Mata and Connor Seabold.

Mata, 21, is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the top pitching prospect and No. 4 overall prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Venezuela native spent the 2020 season at the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket, and he really impressed there, according to Worcester Red Sox pitching coach Paul Abbott.

“I can’t say enough on this kid,” Abbott said of Mata back in October. “He’s as exciting, I think, as anybody in baseball. Top-shelf fastball, top-shelf slider. Curveball is above average. The changeup, too. It’s hard to squeeze all those pitches in when the first two are so dynamic. Young kid, got a little taste of Double-A last year and in the Fall League he did well, but this, for him… he got a ton of value out of this situation. His command wasn’t consistent enough. But a small little tweak in a low-stress environment like we were in allowed him to make some adjustments.”

Following his summer in Pawtucket, Mata was one of 62 players who took part in the Red Sox’ fall instructional league down in Fort Myers, though he did not see any in-game action, per SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall.

Seabold, meanwhile, also spent part of his summer working out at McCoy Stadium, but only after being acquired from the Phillies along with Nick Pivetta back in August.

The 24-year-old was originally selected by Philadelphia in the third round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Cal State Fullerton.

Boston dealt veteran relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree in order to obtain both Seabold and Pivetta’s services, but that trade already looks like a win for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom considering the fact that the pair of former Red Sox righties are currently free agents.

While working with Mata and the other pitchers present at the alternate training site for the latter half of the 2020 campaign, Seabold, too, drew attention from the likes of Abbott.

“His stuff across the board is probably middle of the road, or slightly above average,” Abbott said of the California native. “His changeup is not; his changeup is a top-of-the-food-chain type pitch. His fastball grades out, carries better and looks better than the velo. He’s got a little deception to him. He’s a grinder out there in the short time I saw him. Competes really well. We started developing a curveball with him, something a little slower and a little deeper than the slider. Another kid that needs to season a little bit, face some better hitters. He hasn’t been above Double-A. But I like his makeup and I like his pitchability. He’s a guy who can eat up some innings and give you some quality starts down the road.”

With Mata and Seabold both putting in quality efforts over the summer, the Red Sox obviously have high hopes for the pair of young hurlers. Combine that optimism with the notion that the two pitchers will be added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday, and they could very well be ready to make their major-league debuts sooner rather than later.

As a matter of fact, The Athletic’s Peter Gammons wrote Wednesday that, “the Red Sox believe that Byan Mata — who is 21 and was up to 99 [mph] in Pawtucket — will be up by July, as will Connor Seabold.”

What transpires in the spring — as well as how the Red Sox perform from a pitching perspective out of the gate next season — will likely serve as better indicators for what Mata and Seabold’s estimated time of arrival to the majors will look like.

Still, with all the uncertainties surrounding the Sox’ pitching staff moving forward, the emergences of Mata and Seabold will definitely provide some encouragement, and maybe even reassurance, for Bloom and Co. going into 2021.