Steven Matz was hoping to get a scholarship offer at this time last year. Then the Ward Melville lefthander was drafted in the second round, No. 72 overall, by the Mets this month. That is how quickly Matz evolved into one of the top pitching prospects in the country.
"I wouldn't have believed it," said Matz. "I was hoping colleges would look at me. I didn't even get a lot of looks."
Matz didn't get scouted by colleges until June of last year. Matz started to get on the radar of major league scouts last summer. He started to hit 91 mph consistently and topped out at 94 during the high school season.
Matz went 6-1, allowed two earned runs and 14 hits in 54 innings and struck out 74 in his senior season. He also played first base and hit .408 with nine doubles, six home runs and 34 RBIs and is Newsday's Long Island Player of the Year. Matz helped Ward Melville win its first league title in 34 years.
"It's all been overwhelming," Matz said. "Everything is starting to sink in. It hit me when I went to Citi Field to meet [Mets] the owners."
Matz, who won the Yastrzemski Award, given to the outstanding baseball player in Suffolk County, was 5-7 as a freshman and grew to 6-3 as a senior. The quick growth spurt caused him pain as a junior and he didn't pitch much.
Matz said the interest from major league scouts began at the Sunshine Northeast Perfect Game Showcase when he threw 89 mph. He was invited to a national showcase and that's when word spread about Matz as he was throwing in the low 90s. Four scouts attended his first start of the season and the number grew for each start.
"I just tried to ignore it and focused on winning," Matz said of all the attention. "If you think about it too much, it eats at you. I think my parents were more nervous than me."
Ward Melville coach Lou Petrucci said Matz, who is negotiating with the Mets and has a scholarship to Coastal Carolina, put in a lot of work to become a second-round pick.
"A lot of guys work hard," Petrucci said. "Not everyone can play. He has the talent, too. Every outing he got better. I have no doubt he'll be in the big leagues in three or four years. He has a fresh arm. He's just growing into his body. It was a sad day when he played his last game at Ward Melville."