Matt Boyd, the 24 year old lefty graduate of Oregon State, is making quite a splash in Double-A, dominating the Eastern league with a 1.10 ERA and a 70/18 K/BB ratio in 73.2 innings. Rated by John Sickels as the 16th best prospect in the Blue Jays system, 19th by MLB and 29th by Baseball America, Matt Boyd deserves a closer look.
Before the Minors-
Boyd performed well at Oregon State, primarily as a reliever. As a junior he was drafted by the Reds in the 13th round, but declined. After a strong performance in the Cape Cod League, he converted to starter and became the Beavers Friday night starter, leading them to the College World Series. His strong performance in his senior year paid off, as the Blue Jays took him in the sixth round as a senior budget pick, signing for 75,000 dollars.
Boyd was assigned to the Blue Jays Low-A affiliate, doing well with a .64 ERA and a 1.84 FIP, albeit in only 14 innings. But then, when promoted to the Dunedin Blue Jays he struggled, although as before in a limited amount of innings. The next season he started again in Dunedin and dominated, with a 1.39 ERA and a ratio of 103/20 K/BB in 90 innings. He was promoted to Double-A and, as when promoted before, struggled. With a 6.96 ERA and a WHIP of 1.59, it looked really bad.
In truth, he was very unlucky, with a BABIP of .349, and a LOB% of only 59.4%. For most pitchers, the LOB% tends to move to league average after a while, which is around 75%. This suggests that Boyd probably would have started to do better. Additionally, with a FIP of only 3.94, it wasn't entirely Boyd's fault. He returned to the Fisher Cats and rebounded from the latter end of his 2014 season to the tune of a 1.10 ERA, and the fifth best strikeout to walk differential in Double-A, behind top prospects such as Luis Severino and Julio Urias. He was then promoted to the Bisons and is currently doing well there.
Boyd's delivery has been compared to Sandy Koufax, with a high leg kick. His arm slot has slowly risen, now sitting at a high three quarter slot. At times he seems slightly off balance in his delivery, putting a lot of weight on his back leg, but this also helps him hide the ball from hitters. The few times I've watched him, he has had trouble keeping runners close.
Earlier on in Boyd's career, many scouts rated his fastball as average, with little to no life, sitting at 88-90 and occasionally touching 93. As his career has progressed, so has his fastball. Due to a weighted ball program in the offseason, his fastball is around 93-95 MPH, which is quite good for a lefty. He doesn't lose this velocity late in the game, as in a recent outing, he was reported at 94 in the sixth inning. His fastball now also has on it some late sink. This, in my opinion is now a plus fastball.
Boyd has three average breaking balls, with his curveball and change-up having the chance to be solid, a 55 on a 20-80 scale. His change-up sits at about 78 MPH and can get flat. He is inconsistent with it, sometimes leaving it up in the zone. When his change-up is on, it has some tail action. His curveball is very sharp at in between 71-75 MPH, with lots of drop and good two-plane movement. He has some trouble controlling it, but induces a lot of swing and miss with it. Boyd is less confident with his slider, using it less. At times it has good movement, but it can get slurvy and is at best a fringe-average offering.
Many saw Boyd as a finesse back end starter at the beginning of the season, but as his fastball has progressed and his numbers continue to be stellar, I see him as, if all works out, a solid #3 starter. Boyd has good composure on the mound and has very good control and command, walking few and striking out many. He does give up fly balls easily, especially when he leaves his change-up up in the zone, as just over 40% of the batted balls he gave up were fly balls.
This could end up as a larger problem if he cannot keep down the number of homers he gives up. This is less of an issue now, as his better fastball is inducing more pop ups. An interesting fact is that Steamer, a projection system, saw him as a league average starter in the majors this year. Many have mixed opinions about him, but nobody can deny the stats. What do you guys think?