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Mike Matuella returns to game action

2015 third rounder Mike Matuella pitched 2 innings for Hickory tonight

MLB: Spring Training-Kansas City Royals at Texas Rangers Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Rangers righthanded pitcher Mike Matuella returned to the mound in official game action today for the first time since last summer, and just the second time as a professional.

Pitching for low-A Hickory, Matuella logged 2 innings, striking out 5 batters, allowing 3 hits and allowing one run. Mark Parker had Matuella’s fastball at 94-96, and Matuella threw 30 of his 46 pitches for strikes.

The results are nice, but the main thing for Matuella is getting back on the mound. Matuella was seen as a potential #1 overall pick in the 2015 draft before back issues and then Tommy John surgery sidelined him for most of his junior season. The Rangers drafted him in the 3rd round in 2015 and signed him to a $2 million bonus, betting on his significant upside.

Matuella pitched in one game for Spokane in 2016 before going back on the shelf due to elbow issues. The hope is that he will be able to log innings and stay healthy this season, which would likely result in him being one of the Rangers’ top four or five pitching prospects.