Five Impact Prospects for 2016: National League

Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America

Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America

#5: Steven Matz, LHP, New York Mets

If Matz was fully healthy in 2015 and/or didn’t pitch in a rotation with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard, he wouldn’t even be on this list. He became the last of the Mets’ quintet of elite homegrown arms to make his major league debut (including Zack Wheeler, who pitched for the Mets in 2014 but missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery), on June 28 and looked ready to stick in the rotation. Unfortunately, Matz only started one more game before tearing a lat muscle and missing two months. He returned in September and made four more starts, missed his last one of the regular season with back stiffness, then came back and made three more starts during the Mets’ run to the World Series.

Matz’s ace-level talent is evident, even if his fastball is a couple ticks slower than the triple-digit heat of deGrom and Syndergaard. What separates Matz from his fireballing teammates, however, is his pinpoint command, plus changeup, and steadily improving curveball. If he can stay healthy for the 2016 season, expect Matz to maintain his impressive 45.5% ground ball rate while further developing his offspeed pitches to improve upon his pedestrian 8.58 strikeouts per nine innings. Don’t sleep on that fastball, either, which has already touched 97 mph in the majors and gets some really nice sink when thrown as a two-seamer.

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