Last year, I did a series of posts on the 20 rookies that I think will make an impact in the upcoming baseball season. This off course was a rip-off of Donruss’s Rated Rookies from the 80s-90s. For this series I felt it best to focus only on players who will either arrive this season in the big leagues or those who have already appeared in the big leagues but maintained their rookie status. My third subject is Brian Matusz.
Stephen Strasburg isn’t the only baseball prodigy out of the San Diego area. Matusz was drafted in 2008 out of the University of San Diego. He was drafted 4th overall by the Baltimore Orioles. He signed too late in 2008 to play in the minors. He began his career last season in high A Frederick, where he went 4-2/2.16/1.55 with 75 strikeouts in just 66 innings (10.1 K/ 9 innings). The Orioles felt that he wasn’t challenged enough so they shipped him off to AA Bowie.
At Bowie he really excelled, he mowed down hitters at an amazing rate and went 7-0/1.55/0.91 with 46 strikeouts in 46 innings. Unfortunately the Orioles felt it was best to call him up to the majors at this point. This is where the Orioles usually have a problem. They always seem to want to rush their best prospects up to the majors. True, he seemed ready, but with a little more seasoning in AAA last year, he could have broken Spring Training this upcoming season with the Orioles with a full year of minors under his belt.
Instead he was called up during the last part of last season and performed as well as could be expected with a half season of minors experience. In 8 starts, he went 5-2/4.63/1.47 with 38 strikeouts in 47 innings. His biggest problem with major league hitting was his propensity to give up home runs with runners aboard. He gave up 6 in those 44 innings and allowed 52 hits, nearly half the runners aboard scored. He is going to have to become a more efficient pitcher this season if he wants to succeed. Instead of trying to make the perfect pitch when under pressure, he needs to stay focused and do what he does best, get outs.
He has a lot to learn this season, but I think in his first pro season, he should be able to put up at least 13 wins, and an ERA around 3.75. Will it be enough to win Rookie of the Year honors? Who knows, the Orioles are a better team this year than in earlier years but they are in the same division as the Yankees and the Red Sox. He is going to face some tough lineups that’s for sure. As far as his cards go on eBay, they tend to run on the high side, from about $20 – $50. The card featured below is one of the cheaper ones, but even that one goes for nearly $18. I’m not really sure if his cards are worth it. Generally speaking pitcher’s cards are not worth as much as hitter’s cards. It’s really a double-edged sword though, if he does pan out, his cards are likely to sky-rocket in price, but if he flames out, chances are that they will plummet. Either way you have to consider Matusz as one of the best young prospects in the game and a very good through the mail signer. The custom card I have above is actually made and I have 3 more to trade away, let me know if you are interested.