BRADENTON, FL - MARCH 12: Pitcher Scott Mathieson #47 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at McKechnie Field on March 12, 2011 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Scott Mathieson, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Oft-injured Scott Mathieson has been on-and-off prospect lists for more than half a decade, but the Phillies right-hander should be getting another opportunity soon.
The Phillies drafted Mathieson in the 17th round in 2002, from high school in Aldergrove, British Columbia. He moved through the system steadily, with decent A-ball seasons in '04 and '05, a strong Double-A/Triple-A season in 2006, and his first major league appearances that summer, although he struggled with his command in the Show. He retained rookie eligibility, and was considered a major component for the future despite a 7.47 ERA in his first 37 major league innings.
Injuries struck in 2007: he missed almost all of '07, '08, and '09 recovering from two Tommy John procedures. He returned healthy and effective in 2010, posting a 2.80 ERA with an 83/24 K/BB in 64 innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, saving 26 games, and making a brief return to the majors.
Mathieson returned to Triple-A this year and has continued to pitch well, with a 2.34 ERA and a 77/37 K/BB in 69 innings with 53 hits allowed. He began the year in the bullpen again, but recently returned to the starting rotation, with strong results. In nine starts, he has a 1.94 ERA with a 49/24 K/BB in 42 innings and 27 hits allowed.
Despite his arm problems, Mathieson has strong stuff, including a mid-90s fastball. Both his slider and splitter can be above average, and he racks up plenty of strikeouts. He's been healthy for two years now. His control isn't as good when used as a starter, but he's effective against both right-handed and left-handed hitters, and I can understand Philadelphia's desire to see how he can handle rotation work.
Mathieson is likely to be promoted to the majors for the stretch run. It remains to be seen if he starts or relieves in the long run, but he deserves credit for his tenacity in fighting back from the elbow problems. He's an older prospect at age 27, but the 6-3, 235 pound right-hander could be a significant contributor next year.