The Colorado Rockies have made a commitment to building from within. Beginning with the “Gen R” movement in early 2007, Dan O’Dowd and the rest of the Rockies management team made it a priority to develop young talent inside the organization rather than overpaying for aging veterans on the free agent market.
So far, the plan has worked. After reaching the World Series in 2007, Colorado has accumulated a solid group of young (and inexpensive) players around which the team has systematically placed veteran talent.
O’dowd has also shaped one of the league’s premier minor league systems, rife with pitching talent at all levels. Much of the organization’s offensive firepower has graduated to the big leagues.
There remain, however, a slew of young fireballers on the verge of breaking out in the middle and high minors waiting for the chance to prove themselves on the sport’s main stage.
That’s where Tyler Matzek comes in.
Without exaggeration, Matzek may be the most talented player the Rockies have drafted since Todd Helton. Many considered the lefthander from Southern California to be the second best player in the 2009 draft, slotted right behind the immortal Stephan Strasburg.
Matzek stands 6-3 and weighs 210 lbs and was chosen at No. 11 by the Rockies. In his final high school season, he had an ERA under 1.00 and led his team to the California State Championship.
Coming out of high school, Matzek already throws four pitches and has solid control for a pitcher his age. His fastball has been rumored to touch 98 mph and he uses both his slider and curveball to keep hitters off balance.
Many think Matzek has the makeup to be an ace in the majors, though more conservative estimates see him as a No. 2 in Colorado.
The Rockies were lucky even to get the chance to sign Matzek, who many thought would go higher in the 2009 draft. The young pitcher has said that he expects a “precedent setting” contract, rumored to be in the $7 million range, a hefty fee for a player only a few months out of high school.
Making the situation even trickier, Matzek was also a prolific hitter in high school and is excited for the opportunity to play two ways in college at the University of Oregon. Rumor has it that Matzek has already received his living arrangement and is more than ready to enter the world of Collegiate Sports.
All things considered, Matzek is thought to be the most difficult sign of all the 2009 first round draftees (including Strasburg). He is a player who would immediately make the Rockies system significantly more potent.
While his asking price is high, the $7 million he might receive would be nothing compared to the kind of contracts that will likely be handed out this winter, many to journeymen pitchers and aging veterans.
Matzek is no sure thing, but his potential is enormous. Worst case scenario, in a year’s time, Matzek will turn into $7 million trade bait, the kind of player at least ten other teams in the league would be more than happy to give a shot. Best case, he’s Rick Porcello and a future long-term ace.
The Rockies have four days to get a deal done, and there is no question whatsoever what the team should do.
Rockies management has committed to building from within.
You made your bed, Dan O’Dowd. Now sleep in it. The clock is ticking…