Houston Astros Draft Targets: Michael Matuella

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While it’s still early in the college baseball season, it’s never too early to start looking at Houston Astros draft targets for the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft. In this series of post, I will look at the top-ten prospects available to the Houston Astros to draft with the second and fifth overall picks. While it all depends on who the Arizona Diamondbacks take with the number one pick, the Astros will be able to scoop up whatever leftovers are available when they are on the clock.

Who is Michael Matuella?

Michael Matuella is a right-handed Junior from Duke University. He is listed as 6’6” or 6’7” depending on which scouting report you read, and weighs 220 pounds. He was undrafted out of High School, but he has pitched very well for the Blue Devils in his college career. To go from being undrafted out of High School to being a potential number one pick does not happen often. The kid can pitch with a maximum speed of 97 mph.

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Why could he not go number one?

Scouts like his makeup and arm, but some teams might pass on him because of his durability and lingering injury history, which have limited him so far early in his career. He only pitched in seven games as a freshman and eleven games as a sophomore. So far this college season, they have limited his innings due to a treatable back condition called Spondylolyis. With his being limited in innings, he doesn’t have the experience pitching that most college pitchers have.

Why pick a pitcher when the Houston Astros appear to be loaded?

The Astros went with a pitcher in the first round last year with the Brady Aiken pick. They failed to sign him, so they earned the second overall pick this year as compensation. The second pick is last year’s number one pick, so I see the Astros going after a College pitcher who could be major league ready relatively quickly. The Astros lost a year of being able to develop their pick from last year, so getting a guy like Matuella would be good because he could be ready in 2017 if needed.

What do scouting reports say about Michael Matuella?

Below is a scouting report from MLB Pipeline:

"Undrafted as a Maryland high schooler in 2012, Matuella since has emerged as the player with the highest upside in the current college crop. He can overpower hitters with his 93-97 mph fastball and make them look bad with his curveball and slider. If that’s not enough, he also demonstrates feel for his changeup and throwing strikes. His 6-foot-7 frame creates difficult plane and angle for his pitches, making him that much tougher.The only concerns with Matuella are his back and lack of track record. After battling lat discomfort during the spring, he was diagnosed with spondylolysis, a manageable defect of the vertebra in the lower back. He has pitched just 116 innings in two seasons with the Blue Devils and only 4 2/3 in summer ball (none in 2014)."

Will he be there when the Houston Astros are on the clock?

The Diamondbacks might surprise everyone and go for someone like Matuella with the number one overall pick. Arizona could really use an influx of staring pitchers in their system. For the Diamondbacks it would be hard to pass up on a player like Brendan Rodgers, who could be a more durable Troy Tulowitzki type of player. Matuella’s size and intimidation could make him a right-handed Randy Johnson type of player.

The Diamondbacks could decide to go pitching instead of Rodgers or some player that has really improved his stock during the 2015 college season. At the beginning of the 2014 season, Carlos Rodon was viewed as the number one pick in 2014 draft, but the Astros went with Brady Aiken instead. Rodon was then selected with the third pick overall to the Chicago White Sox. While Rodgers and Matuella are the perceived top draft prospects, someone else could be taken number one.

If the Houston Astros were to pick him, that would lead to a future rotation lead by Mark Appel and Michael Matuella, which would be pretty close to having two aces, depending on their future development. Whoever the Astros select, they will be forever compared to Brady Aiken when he recovers from his recent Tommy John surgery.

I wrote about Brendan Rodgers here.

Next: Astros Top-30 Prospects Part 1

Next: Astros Top-30 Prospects Part 2

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