After the jump, we continue by taking a look at the #23 player in the LSB Community Prospect Rankings, lefthanded pitcher Kevin Matthews...
Kevin Matthews is listed at 5'11", 180 lbs., and turned 19 years old this past November. Matthews was selected by the Rangers with their first first round draft pick (#33 overall) in the 2011 draft out of a Georgia high school. Matthews was seen as something of a reach at #33, with Baseball America ranking him at #105 overall in their rankings, due to concerns about his size and consistency. He signed quickly for slot money and began professional career that summer.
Matthews was immediately assigned to the Rangers' affiliate in the Arizona complex league, a league generally populated by recent high school draftees and teenage international signees. After 7 games there, spanning 12 innings, Matthews was promoted to the short-season A Northwest League, where he made 5 starts and tallied a total of 16.2 innings. Overall, in 28.2 innings between the two leagues, Matthews posted a 2.20 ERA with 30 strikeouts, 18 walks, and just 1 home run allowed.
Matthews' fastball hit 94-95 mph at times in high school, but also would sometimes settle in the high-80s, though it is thought he will generally end up as a low-90s guy. He also has a hard breaking ball and a changeup, though both those pitches still need a lot of work. One of the things that Matthews has in his favor is his athleticism, a trait that the Rangers tend to look for in their pitchers, particularly some of the smaller ones that they draft.
2012 could see Matthews start the year with the Rangers' low-A affiliate at Hickory...that would be an aggressive assignment for a pitcher just out of high school, but the Rangers generally look to challenge their most promising prospects, so Matthews ending up there would not be particularly unexpected. If Matthews doesn't end up in Hickory, expect to see him with Spokane when the Northwest League begins play in early July.