The Boston Red Sox have a crammed starting rotation at the moment full of veterans and youthful arms.
That makes it hard to picture where top pitching prospect Bryan Mata potentially would fit into the mix this season, but Red Sox manager Alex Cora certainly can envision it.
Cora went as far as to tell reporters Tuesday at Boston’s Spring Training facility that he believes the 23-year-old Mata, who made it as high as Triple-A Worcester last season, will make a contribution to the Red Sox at this big league level this year.
“The ability is there,” Cora said, per MassLive’s Chris Cotillo. “This is where we are at now, you start talking about these kids. (Brayan) Bello and Mata and (Garrett) Whitlock and Tanner (Houck), you see it coming. At one point, (Mata) is gonna be part of this and he’s gonna help us to win a few games.”
Mata obviously has caught the eye of Cora, and Red Sox ace Chris Sale for that matter, with the talent he has showcased in the minor leagues, including displaying a fastball that can reach triple digits.
The right-handed pitcher flashed in Boston’s farm system prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2021. He worked his way back last season by going 5-2 with a 1.85 ERA and recording 58 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings with Double-A Portland. Then at the Triple-A level, Mata impressed with a small sample size, compiling a 2-0 record and 3.47 ERA while showing once again he can fan opposing batters. He notched 30 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings with the WooSox.
“We’re very pleased with where he’s at in his development. His stuff is legit…,” Cora said per Cotillo. “Obviously, the injury slowed him down but he’s in a great spot right now. He’s throwing the ball well and I’m excited to (see) him compete at the big league level.”
Cora would like to see Mata work on his control, but even as he still develops that, the Red Sox’s sixth-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, appears ticketed for the majors this season.