2015 Texas Rangers draft: Mike Matuella, a righthanded pitcher out of Duke University.
This pick is a game-changer, one way or the other.
Matuella was in the mix to be the #1 overall pick in this year's draft before undergoing Tommy John surgery in early April, which will likely sideline him until the middle of next season. Matuella also had back issues that had raised concerns with scouts about his durability.
Like Dillon Tate, the Rangers' first round pick (4th overall), Matuella is seen as someone who has top of the rotation potential, but who also probably has a greater than usual risk of ending up in the bullpen. Matuella has a mid-90s fastball, a plus curveball, and a changeup that has been graded out at solid, as well as solid command. He's a big guy -- 6'6", 225 lbs. -- and if his elbow and back hold together, he has the build to stick in the rotation.
The guy who Matuella sort of reminds me of is the guy that also came to mind with Tate -- Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers. Scheppers was a guy who fell in the draft because of physical concerns, and who some thought would end up in the bullpen, but who had two plus pitches that gave him at least a chance to stick as a starter, though that didn't pan out for Scheppers.
Matuella is represented by Scott Boras, and given the good relationship between the Rangers and Boras, you have to figure the Rangers have a decent handle on what Matuella's bonus demands are. (I thought Matuella was repped by Boras, but I think I was wrong. The rest of this paragraph still holds, though, even though he's apparently not a Boras guy.) That being said, I think, at least at this early stage, there is some risk that Matuella doesn't sign. He doesn't have huge leverage, given that he's not going to be healthy enough to pitch for Duke before next year's draft, but I have to think Texas is going to have to offer him more than third round slot money ($777,600) to get him to sign. If the Rangers take cheap, senior signs with their fourth and fifth round picks, that will be an indicator that they are saving up their bonus pool pennies to sign Matuella.