With the 104th pick in the 2021 MLB draft, the Detroit Tigers have selected Tyler Mattison, a right-handed pitcher out of Bryant University.
Mattison is a fourth-year senior and has spent all four years of his college career as a member of Bryant’s rotation. He was a force to be reckoned with in the Northeast Conference, racking up strikeouts at a rate of 10.64 per nine innings and holding opponents to a 2.46 ERA. It was by far his best season with the Bulldogs and he capitalized by entering the draft despite retaining a fifth year of eligibility.
Mattison was an unranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, FanGraphs, and Prospects Live, but the Tigers may be onto something with him. Here’s a summation of his skills by Brian Sakowski, the National Scouting Director at Perfect Game.
Tigers take a probable money saver here in Bryant RHP Tyler Mattison. Big righty, 6-4/230, FB up to 97 with above avg CH, CB/CT also there though both below to fringe avg, improved strikes in a big way this spring. #PGDraft— Brian Sakowski (@B_Sakowski_PG) July 12, 2021
What sticks out to me in this grouping of attributes is that Mattison struggles with spin. He’s able to produce good velocity and has feel for a changeup, but many evaluators avoid players who can’t throw a passable breaking ball altogether. Almost without exception, those kinds of pitchers struggle when they hit the high minors because their changeup is no longer enough to keep hitters off the fastball.
Not everything about Mattison screams that he has a reliever profile, though. He has a big frame and should be able to handle a starter’s workload. He’s able to throw plenty of strikes, largely eliminating waste pitches that needlessly drive up the pitch count and increase walk rate. His delivery is low-effort with minimal head whack or arm recoil, meaning he’s not at elevated risk of injury or bouts of poor command due to mechanical flaws.
At the end of the day, this is a money-saving pick. The Tigers need to pay for the signing bonuses of Ty Madden and Izaac Pacheco, and they likely had identified the $560,000 allotted to them in the fourth round as the extra money they needed to make it happen. Mattison is interesting as far as bargain selections go, but he’s not a major prospect.