1. Steven Matz, LHP
Height: 6'2", Weight: 200 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round, 2009 draft
2015: Triple-A Las Vegas: 90.1 IP, 69 H, 25 R, 22 ER, 31 BB, 94 K; New York Mets: 35.2 IP, 34 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 10 BB, 34 K
To the shock of no one, Steven Matz slots in at number one on our countdown of the top Mets prospects for 2016. He retained his prospect eligibility because he didn't spend enough days on the active major league roster and didn't throw enough innings because he was on the disabled list for as many days as he was. A no-doubt-about-it major league starter is prospect eligible, so it's an easy number one ranking this year.
Depending on where you look, Matz throws either a two-seam or four-seam fastball that averages about 94 miles-per-hour and can run up as high as 97. Regardless of what kind of fastball it is, it has a lot of sink to it and generates a bunch of ground balls. So it's a plus to plus-plus fastball that anchors his repertoire and he backs it up with a high-70s curveball that generated about a league average whiff rate in his small major league sample but is probably a plus offering. The changeup is his third pitch, and it, too, generated league average whiff rates. It's a three-pitch mix that has Matz projected to deliver a better-than-average ERA in the upcoming season according to ZiPS.
As Met pitchers tend to do under Dan Warthen's tutelage, Matz has began tinkering with a slider. He only threw a handful last year, and the results weren't great, but it makes you hesitate when trying to figure out Matz's ultimate ceiling. He doesn't quite have the fastball velocity of the other Mets aces, but if he is able to add a third, average off-speed offering, there's no telling how good he can become.
The only thing that can really slow Matz down at this point is health. He has had health problems his entire career, from Tommy John surgery to shoulder tendinitis to the side injury that almost ruled him out of the division series last year. The best predictor of future injury is previous injury, so it will certainly be a concern going forward.
With Matz's graduation from prospect status this year, it marks the end of a historic run of producing ace-quality pitching talent for the Mets' system. From Matt Harvey to Zack Wheeler to Jacob deGrom to Noah Syndergaard and now Matz, it's been an incredible run of actualizing high-end pitching talent. He should begin the year as the Mets' number four starter, which is just a sign of the embarrassment of riches the Mets currently have in their major league starting rotation.