Scouting Mets' Prospect #50: Matt Durkin

The New York Mets drafted RHP Matthew Durkin in the 2nd round (44th overall) of the 2004 MLB Draft out of San Jose State University and didn't make his professional debut until this past season. Continuing our closer look at each of the Mets' Top 50 prospects, here's a scouting report on Matt Durkin.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Matt Durkin
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: February 22, 1983
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 220
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He wouldn't be happy to admit it, but hard-throwing right-hander Matt Durkin has become a prime example of why it's hard to rate incoming collegiate talent as a professional player.

After being selected in the second round of the June 2004 draft out of San Jose State University, Durkin – through agent Scott Boras and his representatives - signed an $800,000 deal with the Mets and reported to the Instructional League by September, apparently headed on the organization's fast track.

In fact, had we opted to rank Durkin in our 2005 Prospect Guide, sight unseen, he'd likely have ranked in the Mets' Top 20. But Durkin found his introduction to professional ball something of a rude awakening, as control problems hampered much of a season spent mostly in Low-A ball with the Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League.

Early in the 2005 season, Durkin mentioned he'd experienced some wildness in his senior year at San Jose State, when he walked 49 batters in 110 innings.

"I'm more of a power pitcher, and guys start fouling pitches off and fouling pitches off, it takes a little bit longer to get them out," Durkin explained.

Indeed, Durkin averaged roughly three walks every nine innings over his college career, a respectable number. But with the Suns, the average jumped to 6.39 free passes per nine innings – not quite so acceptable.

Suns manager Gene Richards points to Durkin's control as the biggest reason why the 22-year-old was 4-5 with a 3.77 ERA, even while holding South Atlantic League hitters to a .205 batting average and striking out 79.

"He needed to throw more strikes," Richards said. "That's the biggest thing for me."

Durkin enjoyed spots of success, and the chatty sociology major from San Jose State was an easy fit in the clubhouses he inhabited.

But the problems came on the mound and, more specifically, staying on the mound – after starting the season with Hagerstown and pitching marginally for much of the year, Durkin had a bout with tendinitis that cost him six weeks beginning in mid-June and sent him back to the Gulf Coast League for rehab.

"I just want to be able to throw strikes more consistently with the same delivery," Durkin said. "I want to become more mechanically sound so I can move up the ladder faster. I just want to do what all the pitching coaches want me to do, so they don't have to be preaching to me all the time."

A husky 6'4", 230-lb. hurler with starting pitcher build, Durkin made it back to Hagerstown in early August, just in time to help out with the Suns' playoff run.

He saw most of his action as a starting pitcher, taking the rubber for 14 of the 19 games he appeared in, but went no further than 6-1/3 innings all season and walked 54 batters in 76.1 innings.

After pitching through the Instructional League for the second consecutive year, working on his delivery and arm slot, Durkin still has a spot on the Mets' prospect chart. The organization will be looking for a stronger showing in 2006, likely beginning the year in St. Lucie.

"There's plenty of good pitching in this organization, so I know they're not going to rush me or anything," Durkin said. "They're going to make sure I'm doing everything right and doing it well."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2005

Hagerstown

4-5

76.1

54

54

79

3.77

2005

GCL

0-0

3.0

2

0

4

0.00


* Stats as of 10/2/05

Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Slider.

Fastball. Matt Durkin's fastball sits in the 86-91 MPH range, topping off at 94 MPH, usually. The problem Durkin had in his professional debut was not only inconsistent control, but inconsistent velocity. Considering himself a "power" pitcher, Durkin reportedly never topped 88 MPH with his fastball in the South Atlantic League this past season. With the loss of velocity and command, it wasn't too shocking to see the high number of walks issued in 2005.

Other Pitches. Durkin favors his curveball, his best secondary pitch by his own admission, off of his fastball. His curveball sits around 72 MPH. Durkin will throw a 77-80 MPH slider to give opposing batters another look, but doesn't throw it too often. He'll also mix in a changeup that sits around 74-75 MPH.

Pitching. Durkin, despite the contradictory evidence with his surprisingly high walk totals this past season, is an aggressive pitcher that goes right after batters, utilizing the same approach on the mound as a Curt Schilling or a Jason Schmidt. It is this fact that has some inside and outside the organization worried about his lack of control in 2005. He sets up his secondary pitches with his fastball and is usually a little more successful keeping hitters off balance. If his fastball isn't where it should be, as was the case this past season, Durkin will continue to have problems.

Projection. There might not be a player in the Mets' organization whose projection varies as vastly as Durkin's right now. Depending on who you talk to in the scouting world, Durkin projects to be an "organizational" guy - code word for career minor leaguer - or anywhere from a key role pitcher (spot starter, reliever) to a solid #3 or #4 pitcher at the Major League level. If Durkin can revitalize his velocity with his fastball and mirror the same type of command that he had in college, at minimum, Durkin could become a solid starting pitcher at the Major League level someday.

ETA. 2009. Durkin's second season as a professional pitcher will go a long way towards clearing up his projected role and timetable towards reaching the Major Leagues. He'll need to show his performance with the Hagerstown Suns was more of an aberration and not what can be expected in the future. Durkin will most likely get a chance to open some eyes in 2006 as a member of the St. Lucie Mets in the Florida State League.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Matt Durkin
\r\nPosition: Starting Pitcher
\r\nDOB: February 22, 1983
\r\nHeight: 6'5\"
\r\nWeight: 220
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\nHe wouldn't be happy to admit it, but hard-throwing right-hander Matt Durkin has become a prime example of why it's hard to rate incoming collegiate talent as a professional player.
\r\n
\r\nAfter being selected in the second round of the June 2004 draft out of San Jose State University, Durkin – through agent Scott Boras and his representatives - signed an $800,000 deal with the Mets and reported to the Instructional League by September, apparently headed on the organization's fast track.
\r\n
\r\nIn fact, had we opted to rank Durkin in our 2005 Prospect Guide, sight unseen, he'd likely have ranked in the Mets' Top 20. But Durkin found his introduction to professional ball something of a rude awakening, as control problems hampered much of a season spent mostly in Low-A ball with the Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League.
\r\n
\r\nEarly in the 2005 season, Durkin mentioned he'd experienced some wildness in his senior year at San Jose State, when he walked 49 batters in 110 innings.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm more of a power pitcher, and guys start fouling pitches off and fouling pitches off, it takes a little bit longer to get them out,\" Durkin explained.
\r\n
\r\nIndeed, Durkin averaged roughly three walks every nine innings over his college career, a respectable number. But with the Suns, the average jumped to 6.39 free passes per nine innings – not quite so acceptable.
\r\n
\r\nSuns manager Gene Richards points to Durkin's control as the biggest reason why the 22-year-old was 4-5 with a 3.77 ERA, even while holding South Atlantic League hitters to a .205 batting average and striking out 79.
\r\n
\r\n\"He needed to throw more strikes,\" Richards said. \"That's the biggest thing for me.\"
\r\n
\r\nDurkin enjoyed spots of success, and the chatty sociology major from San Jose State was an easy fit in the clubhouses he inhabited.
\r\n
\r\nBut the problems came on the mound and, more specifically, staying on the mound – after starting the season with Hagerstown and pitching marginally for much of the year, Durkin had a bout with tendinitis that cost him six weeks beginning in mid-June and sent him back to the Gulf Coast League for rehab.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just want to be able to throw strikes more consistently with the same delivery,\" Durkin said. \"I want to become more mechanically sound so I can move up the ladder faster. I just want to do what all the pitching coaches want me to do, so they don't have to be preaching to me all the time.\"
\r\n
\r\nA husky 6'4\", 230-lb. hurler with starting pitcher build, Durkin made it back to Hagerstown in early August, just in time to help out with the Suns' playoff run.
\r\n
\r\nHe saw most of his action as a starting pitcher, taking the rubber for 14 of the 19 games he appeared in, but went no further than 6-1/3 innings all season and walked 54 batters in 76.1 innings.
\r\n
\r\nAfter pitching through the Instructional League for the second consecutive year, working on his delivery and arm slot, Durkin still has a spot on the Mets' prospect chart. The organization will be looking for a stronger showing in 2006, likely beginning the year in St. Lucie.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's plenty of good pitching in this organization, so I know they're not going to rush me or anything,\" Durkin said. \"They're going to make sure I'm doing everything right and doing it well.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2005

\r\n

\r\n Hagerstown

\r\n

\r\n 4-5

\r\n

\r\n 76.1

\r\n

\r\n 54

\r\n

\r\n 54

\r\n

\r\n 79

\r\n

\r\n 3.77

2005

\r\n

\r\n GCL

\r\n

\r\n 0-0

\r\n

\r\n 3.0

\r\n

\r\n 2

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 4

\r\n

\r\n 0.00


\r\n* Stats as of 10/2/05
\r\n
\r\nRepertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Slider.
\r\n
\r\nFastball. Matt Durkin's fastball sits in the 86-91 MPH range, topping off at 94 MPH, usually. The problem Durkin had in his professional debut was not only inconsistent control, but inconsistent velocity. Considering himself a \"power\" pitcher, Durkin reportedly never topped 88 MPH with his fastball in the South Atlantic League this past season. With the loss of velocity and command, it wasn't too shocking to see the high number of walks issued in 2005.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches. Durkin favors his curveball, his best secondary pitch by his own admission, off of his fastball. His curveball sits around 72 MPH. Durkin will throw a 77-80 MPH slider to give opposing batters another look, but doesn't throw it too often. He'll also mix in a changeup that sits around 74-75 MPH.
\r\n
\r\nPitching. Durkin, despite the contradictory evidence with his surprisingly high walk totals this past season, is an aggressive pitcher that goes right after batters, utilizing the same approach on the mound as a Curt Schilling or a Jason Schmidt. It is this fact that has some inside and outside the organization worried about his lack of control in 2005. He sets up his secondary pitches with his fastball and is usually a little more successful keeping hitters off balance. If his fastball isn't where it should be, as was the case this past season, Durkin will continue to have problems.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. There might not be a player in the Mets' organization whose projection varies as vastly as Durkin's right now. Depending on who you talk to in the scouting world, Durkin projects to be an \"organizational\" guy - code word for career minor leaguer - or anywhere from a key role pitcher (spot starter, reliever) to a solid #3 or #4 pitcher at the Major League level. If Durkin can revitalize his velocity with his fastball and mirror the same type of command that he had in college, at minimum, Durkin could become a solid starting pitcher at the Major League level someday.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2009. Durkin's second season as a professional pitcher will go a long way towards clearing up his projected role and timetable towards reaching the Major Leagues. He'll need to show his performance with the Hagerstown Suns was more of an aberration and not what can be expected in the future. Durkin will most likely get a chance to open some eyes in 2006 as a member of the St. Lucie Mets in the Florida State League.
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