Matt Blackham RHP
Bats/Throws: R/R Ht: 5’10 Wt: 170 lbs Age: 25 (DOB 1/7/93)
Every prospect has some things working for them, and some working against them. Anyone who wants to knock Matt Blackham as a prospect is going to look at his relatively meager physical stature, and the fact that he is already 25 and hasn’t seen high-A yet. And I guess some people don’t get excited about relief prospects. Well that ‘aint me.
You want to knock him for his age? That’s fine, but acknowledge that when a pitcher misses over a year due to elbow surgery, as Blackham did in all of 2016, it isn’t a reflection on his performance or pace of professional development. In fact, Blackham has done nothing but dominate professional hitters out of the pen.
Don’t want to bother giving props to a guy because he profiles to pitch in relief? That’s fine. But how about when said relief prospect has a career strikeout rate of 12 per 9 innings pitched, including 13 per 9 innings last season in full season ball, as Blackham did all year long at Columbia?
Don’t think a 5’10 skinny kid can compete against big leaguers? That’s fine. But how about if said skinny kid’s fastball sits low to mid 90’s with armside run, and complements it with a nasty curveball that features good depth?
Being a hard-throwing 25 year old for all of 2018, the Mets are going to push Blackham this season to see what he’s made of. With the Mets system brimming with his type, Blackham will most likely start his year for the St.Lucie Mets. But every year brings injury and performance attrition, and if Blackham can stay healthy and continue to locate his pitches as he did last year (keeping his walk rate at an acceptable 3.0/9 innings pitched), he is going to get his chance to show his stuff will play against the top levels of the minor leagues.
So go ahead, tell Matt Blackham everything he isn’t. That’s fine. But this young man is well on his way to showing Mets fans and upper minors hitters, everything that he is.