When Chris, I, and the rest of our small staff at Tigers Minor League Report first included Mattison on our list in August, it surprised some. Perhaps what stood out in our minds was his performance during his first 11 innings at Erie. He did not allow a run or a hit, struck out 16, and earned three saves.
As the season concluded, we named Mattison our Minor League Pitcher of the Year, a decision based on his regular season and postseason performance. He posted a K per 9 at High-A West Michigan of 15.38 then in his promotion to Erie, 12.42. But what makes Mattison so dominant and a prospect likely to see time in Detroit, perhaps in 2024?
Mattison throws four different pitches: a fastball, cutter, curve, and changeup. His delivery, similar to that of James Karinchak, a pitcher for the Guardians, is over the top. This consistent mechanic allows him to effectively set up his curve and changeup. As a result, when batters anticipate a fastball, Mattison can surprise them with a particularly nasty curve, delivered from the same arm slot with consistency. This four pitch mix allowed the Tigers to use him as a opener for five starts last season.
His cutter, which he started throwing last season, is the pitch he doesnt use often since it hasnt been effective. Interesting enough, both Mattison and Karinchak both went to Bryant University in Rhode Island.
The primary challenge for Mattison is his walk rate; he issued 4.86 walks per nine innings over 33.1 innings in Erie. Though he limited right-handed hitters to a .180 batting average, any misplacement of his fastball often resulted in it being hit hard, leading to five home runs from right-handed batters. Nonetheless, his fastball remains one of his most impressive pitches, exhibiting notable tailing action when his command is sharp. His plus changeup and curveball effectively complement his fastball, underscoring his potential as a reliever.
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