(This article originally appeared on Fansided)
Did the Braves just find something from nowhere?
Right now, the topic on everyone’s mind is the July 31st MLB trade deadline and whether or not the Atlanta Braves will make a move or stay put. With the rumors swirling, the Braves trying to hold on for any chance at the playoffs and top prospects propelling, it’s tough to find any room for the lower prospects.
Well, this one, we should probably take a look at. This tale could develop into a great feel good story for the Atlanta Braves. This is the story about Tuesday afternoons Gwinnett Braves starting pitcher, Kevin Matthews.
Never heard the name? Maybe have, but it’s been a while? You have, okay. Well, most haven’t so just keep reading!
Matthews was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 1st round of the 2011 MLB draft — 33rd overall — from Richmond Hill High School in Georgia. His senior year, he went 4-2 with an ERA of 1.68 on the mound. He pitched 42 innings, allowed 14 hits, 14 walks and struck out 94.
“Very athletic and a great makeup,” said Rangers scouting director Kipp Fagg after they drafted him in 2011. “He’s got a feel for pitching, and he pitches like he has a chip on his shoulder. We feel he has a big upside.”
The left-handed pitcher (then 18-years-old) seemed to be a shoe-in for a top prospect slot in the Rangers organization. His size was some concern as he stood only 5’11” and weighed 180, but that didn’t seem to faze Matthews.
“I use that to prove people wrong,” Matthews said about his height back in 2011. “To me, that’s never been a problem. When I go to these workouts, all the pitchers are 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-4, and I’m always the shortest guy. I don’t think size matters as long as you get it done.”
So What Happened To This Guy?
After the Rangers drafted him, he moved his way up to low Single-A in that same year. He pitched as a starter and out of the bullpen. In 2012, he was promoted again to Single-A where he started 15 games and held a 4.38 ERA as a 19-year-old.
After the 2012 season, the problems started.
Prior to the 2013 year, shoulder issues arose and he had to miss the entire season. Then, he also missed the majority of the 2014 season because of the injured shoulder. When he finally returned, he was sent to rookie ball and eventually to low Single-A. He started two games that year and appeared in 11 others within both affiliates. He held a 7.59 ERA and walked 17 hitters in 21.1 innings pitched.
After pulling up articles from the Rangers from 2015, it seemed as though the organization was starting to lose confidence in him. He was sent to Single-A to start the season, but was a relief pitcher.
Then the worst for Matthews…on May 7, 2015, he was pulled over by the police and was charged with driving while impaired in Hickory, North Carolina. Following the misdemeanor DWI, the Texas Rangers cut Matthews.
At 23-years-old, Kevin Matthews professional career seemed to be over.
Matthews Way To The Braves
Around the end of June 2017, the Atlanta Braves made a move that went pretty unnoticed. They signed a left-handed pitcher from the United Shore Professional Baseball League.
Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers LHP Kevin Matthews signed on the dotted lines with the Braves. The USPBL pitcher made his debut within the league this year and has been great so far. In his five starts, he went 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA, with 43 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched.
“I am very grateful for everything everyone has done for me while playing in the USPBL,” Matthews said after signing with the Braves. Because of the USPBL, I get a second chance with an affiliate organization and for that I will be forever grateful.”
The now 24-year-old is the 15th player to sign a professional contract from the USPBL.
After signing with the Braves, Matthews was sent to Single-A. During his time with the Rome Braves, he appeared in five games and held a 0.93 ERA with five walks and eight strikeouts in 9.2 innings pitched.
Pretty solid numbers, but where’s solid take you?
That Brings Us To Tuesday
The Atlanta Braves assigned Matthews to the Gwinnett Braves on July 25th and told him he’s going to be starting against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
He went four innings with two hits, one earned run, four walks and had three strikeouts. The lone run he gave up to one of the best teams in Triple-A came in the first inning. He settled down pretty well after that for a good start for Gwinnett.
The reason for Matthews call up to Gwinnett probably had something to do with the Jaime Garcia trade and Aaron Blair being called up to Atlanta. The Braves front office probably looked down the rosters just looking for a spot start from someone.
It’s very possible the Braves send him back down…or he could be given another start. Either way, this could develop into a tremendous story and we’ll be paying attention to see how he does moving forward.
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