Name: Matt Rudick
Weight: 170 lbs.
Acquired: 2021 MLB Draft, 13th Round (University of San Diego State University)
2023 Stats: 61 G, 214 AB, .271/.414/.449, 58 H, 11 2B, 0 3B, 9 HR, 46 BB, 42 K, 12/13 SB, .301 BABIP (Double-A)
The diminutive Matt Rudick has been a standout player at essentially every stop of his career. He lettered every year while playing for Scripps Ranch High School in San Diego, hitting .360/.426/.508 with 8 homers, 28 steals, and 43 walks to 24 strikeouts at the plate and adding in a 0.93 ERA in 90.1 innings off the mound. That performance earned him the 2016 Eastern League Player of the Year award, but he ultimately went undrafted in 2017 and went on to San Diego State University.
At SDSU, Rudick continued to impress, posting a .319/.420/.363 line as a freshman in 59 games. He nearly xeroxed that line in 2019, hitting .320/.403/.394 in 57 games and then had a solid but unspectacular showing on the cape, hitting .287/.374/.409 for the Wareham Gatemen. His 2020 started off well once again, but he then lost the majority of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He went undrafted in the shortened 2020 MLB Draft and returned to San Diego State University, where he scorched the competition in his fourth year, his redshirt junior season. In 44 games, he hit .410/.484/.567, walking nearly three times as often as he struck out, stealing 17 bases, and adding four home runs. That performance led to the Mets selecting him with their 13th round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, the 382nd player selected overall.
Rudick looked good in the Florida Complex League, appearing in 21 games for them and hitting .311/.414/.460 with 1 home run, 6 stolen bases, and 12 walks to 10 strikeouts. He was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones to begin the 2022 season but struggled and was placed on the injured list a few weeks into the season. He missed roughly a month, was sent to the Syracuse Mets for roughly a week due to roster needs, and finally returned to the Cyclones in mid-June. He remained in Coney Island for the rest of the season and hit .247/.361/.371 in 72 games. His time prior to his injury taken into account, Rudick appeared in 83 games for the Cyclones, hitting .243/.366/.360 with 3 home runs, 17 stolen bases, and 45 walks to 58 strikeouts.
The 24-year-old began the 2023 season with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, went 1-3 with a grand slam in his first game, and did not look back. Attributing his success to a swing change, the outfielder hit .271/.414/.449 through 58 games with Binghamton, slugging a career-high 9 home runs, stealing 12 bases in 13 attempts, and drawing 46 walks to 42 strikeouts. Unfortunately, his season came to an abrupt end in late June when he was put on the Injured List with an undisclosed injury, possibly related to his shoulder. A few weeks later, he began a rehab assignment and returned to Binghamton, but he returned to the Injured List days later, and his 2023 season came to a definitive end.
Rudick, who is listed as 5’6”, 170-pounds, added a bit of good muscle in the off-season and revamped his swing, swapping a tall, fairly straight up setup for a much more closed, crouched, stance with more pre-pitch tension. Correspondingly, he began hitting the ball with more authority this year and tripled his career home run total in only 266 plate appearances at Double-A. This power gain came without any dip in his plate discipline, as he walked more than he struck out while maintaining a healthy batting average, a skill that he has consistently shown throughout his collegiate and professional career. Rudick consistently spits on good breaking balls that are out of the zone or in spots he can’t damage them. With two strikes, he shows a penchant for fouling pitches off and staying alive. He does this without simply being passive, and is willing to swing early in the count when he gets a pitch he can do something with. Rudick also did a good job of keeping the ball off the ground, making the most of his limited power with optimized vertical spray. He does seem to struggle with velocity up in the zone and the breaking balls thrown by fellow left-handers, and many players with skillsets similar to Rudick’s have been exposed in the high minors when they see better velocity and more competitive chase pitches.
In the outfield, Rudick is a fringe-average center fielder and fringe-average right-fielder thanks to average speed and an average arm in terms of both strength and accuracy.