Matz step closer to big league dream
Family, friends celebrate left-hander's Draft selection
NEW YORK -- Steven Matz confesses he wasn't a diehard Mets fan growing up in East Setauket, N.Y., on Long Island.
He sure is now.
Matz was the Mets' second-round pick Tuesday in the First-Year Player Draft, taken 72nd overall with the New York's first selection of the day.
"I was sweating it out, and then I heard John Franco call my name," Matz said of watching the coverage of the Draft online. "It was just a whole weight off my shoulders. It was awesome."
It seems only fitting that the pick was announced by Franco, the longtime left-handed Mets reliever who hails from Brooklyn. From one New York southpaw to another, a dream was realized.
Matz's coach, Lou Petrucci, at Ward Melville High School noted the climbing local fame of the kid.
"He's going to be an icon in [the Three Village area] one day," said Petrucci. "If he isn't already."
Kids from the local elementary school donned white T-shirts with Matz's name on the back Tuesday afternoon, supporting the 18-year-old who has spent 13 years in the school system.
Matz grew up in a family of Mets fans that should have the opportunity to see him play in the Minors. The Mets have affiliates in Brooklyn, Binghamton and Buffalo.
Matz said it would have been especially meaningful for his late grandmother -- the biggest fan in the family.
"She would be amazed," Matz said. "She'd be in seventh heaven right now."
The Draft caps a wild 12 months for Matz, who wasn't even courted by top colleges until this time in 2008. It wasn't until the beginning of his senior season that he thought the Draft was a possibility.
"It was just one year of craziness," Matz said. "Going pro, it's hard to believe that all of it was going on. It didn't really sink in until yesterday."
Matz had committed to Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C., but is currently negotiating a deal with the Mets. This past season at Ward Melville, he went 6-1 with a 0.47 ERA in seven starts, striking out 81 while allowing just 11 hits in 44 innings.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Matz was never daunted by starting in front of a bevy of scouts, pitching with "ice in his veins," according to his coach.
"He's very calm," Petrucci said. "What makes him a second-round Draft pick is his ability to pitch outside the box. He's not fazed by throwing 2-1 changeups. Throughout the season, from Day 1 when he pitched two innings in a scrimmage to his last outing in a playoff game when he pitched a two-hit shutout, he got better every single outing."
The Mets hope Matz's rapid development continues, starting in the Gulf Coast League this summer. Petrucci has no doubt it will.
"I really believe that in four years, this kid is going to be pitching in Citi Field," the coach said.
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.