All the focus has been on pitcher Yu Darvish and his road back to the Rangers after Tommy John surgery. No doubt there’s nothing wrong with that. However, the Rangers are following another pitcher in the minors who is also fighting his way back from the injury bug at the team's spring training complex in Surprise, Arizona.
The Rangers took right-handed pitcher Michael Matuella out of Duke with the 78th overall pick in last year’s draft. Before the start of the 2015 college season, Matuella was seen as a potential top-five pick. However, back and elbow injuries early on ruined the season.
The Rangers liked enough of what they saw to take an expensive risk. They gave Matuella a $2 million signing bonus with the hopes that the medical and athletic training staff could bring him back along. It seems to be working.
Matuella began throwing off a mound in April and recently told Baseball America that he’s progressing well but remaining patient.
“I’m just really controlling what I can control and not really trying to worry about pushing too fast because I know the Rangers have a good plan for me,” said Matuella.
Matuella has the power build at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. Scouting reports had his fastball clocked at 93-97 mph with a curve and slider that can keep hitters honest at the plate. He was also starting to develop a feel for a change-up.
It’s a risk, but one that could pay off in a nice way for the Rangers in the long run.