BOSTON — The Red Sox have promoted No. 2 pitching prospect Bryan Mata to Triple-A Worcester. He will start for the WooSox this week vs. Buffalo at Polar Park, according to industry sources.
The exact day this week is not yet known. Worcester is home Tuesday-Sunday vs. Buffalo.
Mata threw 6 innings without allowing an earned run in each of his past three starts for Double-A Portland.
The 23-year-old righty, who missed all of 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, posted a 1.85 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 10 outings (nine starts) for Portland. Opponents are batting .202 against him.
“He’s doing well. He’s throwing more strikes. The stuff is there,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said before Boston’s game against the Rays on Sunday.
Mata’s command needs to improve as he has walked 23 batters in 48 ⅔ innings. But he has big-league velocity like No. 1 pitching prospect Brayan Bello. He worked in the mid-to-upper 90s at Portland. He reached 100 mph with his fastball during an extended spring training game in May.
“This is a guy that just like Bello, the baseball IQ, the way he goes about his business, the preparation and everything that comes to become a big leaguer, it’s there,” Cora said. “I think stuff-wise, he’s one of the best that we have. Obviously, a different path because of the injuries. But this is a guy that we’re keeping an eye on and he’s a big part of what we’re trying to accomplish in the future.”
Mata, who is on the 40-man roster, has increased both his two-seam fastball and slider usage since returning. He’s described as “sinker and slider heavy” but he also elevates his four-seam fastball. He also still mixes in a curveball and changeup like he did before surgery.
Thad Ward strikes out 10
Thad Ward, who also is returning from Tommy John surgery that he underwent last season, tied his career-high with 10 strikeouts in Portland’s 2-1 win over Hartford on Saturday.
Ward has a 3.13 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and .229 batting average against in five starts for the Sea Dogs.