Red Sox to promote top pitching prospect Bryan Mata to Triple-A Worcester, per report

The Red Sox have promoted top pitching prospect Bryan Mata to Triple-A Worcester, according to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith. The right-hander is expected to make his first start for the WooSox in Tuesday’s series opener against the Buffalo Bisons at Polar Park.

Mata, 23, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks second among pitchers in the organization behind only fellow righty Brayan Bello.

Originally signed out of Venezuela for just $25,000 as an international free-agent in January 2016, Mata was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster in November 2020. The Maracay native seemed destined to make his major-league debut at some point during the 2021 campaign, but he wound up undergoing Tommy John surgery last April after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Thirteen months after going under the knife, Mata returned to the mound with a bang. The hard-throwing righty topped out at 100 mph with his four-seam fastball during an extended spring training start in May and was sent out on a rehab assignment shortly thereafter.

By early summer, Mata had gotten his feet between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville, prompting a promotion to Double-A Portland on June 28. In 10 appearances (nine starts) for the Sea Dogs since then, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound hurler has posted a 1.85 ERA and 3.57 FIP with 58 strikeouts to 23 walks over 48 2/3 innings of work. That includes an ongoing stretch of 18 consecutive scoreless frames dating back to August 12.

Among Eastern League pitchers who — as of Sunday morning — have thrown at least 40 innings to this point in the year, Mata ranks 22nd in strikeout rate (29.4%), ninth in groundball rate (52.2%), 27th in batting average against (.202), second in ERA, 20th in FIP, and 13th in xFIP (3.57), per FanGraphs.

In addition to his high-octane four-seamer, Mata operates with a two-seam fastball, a slider, a curveball, and a changeup. The curveball and slider are considered to be his two best secondary pitches.

Mata, who does not turn 24 until next May, could soon join Bello in making his major-league debut for the Red Sox. In the meantime, he becomes just the latest Boston pitching prospect to make the jump from Portland to Worcester this season joining the likes of Bello, Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter, and Victor Santos, among others.

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

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata extends scoreless innings streak to 18 in latest strong start for Double-A Portland

It appears as though Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata may be ready for a promotion to Triple-A Worcester.

In his latest start for Double-A Portland on Wednesday night, Mata scattered five hits and two walks to go along with a season-high nine strikeouts over six scoreless innings of work in an 8-0 win over the Hartford Yard Goats. The 23-year-old right-hander threw 94 pitches (61 strikes) and induced 11 swings-and-misses.

Since making the jump from High-A Greenville in late June, Mata has posted a 1.85 ERA and 3.58 FIP with 58 strikeouts to 23 walks over 10 appearances (9 starts) spanning 48 2/3 innings with the Sea Dogs this season. He has not allowed a run in his last 18 innings pitched.

Among Eastern League pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings to this point in the year, Mata ranks 23rd in strikeout rate (29.4%), ninth in groundball rate (52.2%), 26th in batting average against (.202), second in ERA, 21st in FIP, and 14th in xFIP (3.57), per FanGraphs.

Mata, who missed the entirety of the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last April, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks second among pitchers in the organization behind only fellow righty Brayan Bello.

The Red Sox originally signed Mata for just $25,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Venezuela in January 2016. The Maracay native was added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November 2020 and seemed destined to make his big-league debut in 2021. But he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow that spring, which ultimately required him to go under the knife.

Sixteen months later and Mata is once again putting himself on the map. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound was clocked at 100 mph with his four-seam fastball during an extended spring training start in May. His other offerings include a two-seam fastball, a slider, a curveball, and a changeup.

Mata, who does not turn 24 until next May, would become the latest in a long line of Red Sox pitching prospects to make the transition from Double-A to Triple-A this season. Bello, who has since made his major-league debut, and Brandon Walter were both promoted in May. Chris Murphy was promoted the following month while fellow southpaw Jay Groome — who has since been traded to the Padres– was promoted in July. Victor Santos was also promoted earlier this month.

(Picture of Bryan Mata: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata strikes out 2 in first start of rehab assignment

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata officially began his rehab assignment with Low-A Salem on Saturday night.

Pitching in front of 3,971 spectators at Carillion Clinic Field, the right-hander allowed one unearned run on no hits, two walks, and two strikeouts over two innings of work in Salem’s 6-2 win over the Columbia Fireflies.

Of the 45 pitches Mata threw on Saturday, 27 went for strikes and nine were of the swing-and-miss variety. The 23-year-old reportedly topped out at 98 mph with his fastball.

Not including extended spring training, this marked Mata’s first in-game action since August 2019 and, more significantly, his first official minor-league appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April.

Originally signed by the Red Sox for just $25,000 as an international free agent coming 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.

When healthy, many believed Mata had some of the best pure stuff in the system as he complemented his high-octane fastball with a changeup, a curveball, and a slider, among other offerings.

After tearing his ulnar collateral ligament and having his elbow reconstructed last spring, it remains to be seen if Mata will remain effective as a starter or will instead transition to a relief role at the next level. Either way, he still has a high ceiling.

Already a member of Boston’s 40-man roster, Mata will make his next start for High-A Greenville, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. He is expected to reach Triple-A Worcester by the time his rehab assignment comes to an end. At that point, the 6-foot-3, 229 pound hurler could be paired up with fellow righty Brayan Bello in the WooSox’ starting rotation.

Bello, the top pitching prospect in the Sox’ farm system, made his fourth start for Worcester since being promoted from Double-A Portland on May 17. The 23-year-old yielded three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out eight over five innings on Friday. His ERA with the WooSox now sits at 3.63.

Between Bello and Mata, the Red Sox have two extremely exciting young pitchers who have the chance to make their big-league debuts at some point this season. At the same time, Chaim Bloom and Co. will surely exhibit patience when it comes to the development of these two prospects as well those who fall behind them in the pipeline.

(Picture of Bryan Mata courtesy of the Salem Red Sox)

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata set to begin rehab assignment with Low-A Salem

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)

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)