Scouting Report: RHP, Matt Borens

The Yankees drafted right-handed pitcher Matt Borens in the 11th round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Eastern Illinois University. One of the more consistent pitchers for the Staten Island Yankees in his debut season, he offers one of the better blends of command and stuff, and yet at 6-foot-8 he also brings some untapped potential too.

[Photo by Robert Pimpsner]

Vital Statistics:
Name: Matt Borens
Position: Pitcher
DOB: February 10, 1993
Height: 6'8"
Weight: 230
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He initially struggled in his debut season, serving up six earned runs in his very first start, but settled down in a big way the rest of the season, posting a 2.52 ERA over his final ten games.

"In school ball I threw a lot," Borens said. "I threw like 110 innings and I felt a little bit tired. I came [into pro ball] and gave up six runs in my first inning, and I was kind of like 'aw crap, here we go' but after that I settled down and I felt like I pitched really well. My next 35-40 innings went really well so I was real happy with the year."

Being so tall everyone would expect him to be a power pitcher with perhaps some inconsistent mechanics and he proved to be anything but that. He quickly proved to be more of a command pitcher, one who could rely on an array of pitches to get hitters out.

"The biggest improvement I made was being able to throw all of my pitches at any time," he said. "Just from the jump from college to pro ball I could tell right away I'd have to be able to throw any pitch in any situation, that I wouldn't be able to lean on any one thing. I started to realize that right away and throughout the year that's what I worked on, and I thought I did a pretty good job at that."

He also did a pretty good job improving his secondary pitches. Known more as a fastball command pitcher entering the professional ranks, his breaking pitches in particular took a big step forward and allowed him to become a bit more of a strikeout pitcher.

"My curveball was my go-to pitch in college and this summer my slider was what I was getting a lot of swings and misses on and that's what I was going to in any situation and definitely with two strikes," he revealed. "I also throw a changeup which I've been working on to try and get that better.

"[My slider] tightened up but I changed grips a little bit because I didn't really throw a slider until last year and it [initially] was coming out like a curveball, a little bit loopy. I started to work with 'Norty' [pitching coach Tim Norton] and it tightened up a bit, and in the second half of the season it was my 0-2 pitch."

Initially sitting in the same velocity range as his curveball, more in the 77 mph range, his slider began to see a bit of a velocity spike.

"When Gil [Patterson] came in the spin rate on it wasn't very good and they thought I was going to have to change it to a cutter," he said. "But during one of the starts he was there I had like ten swings and misses with it. It's a little bit of an odder pitch. The velocity is usually around 81-82 mph and it's harder than my curveball but when I first got there [in Staten Island] it wasn't that much harder."

Being able to throw any of four pitches [five if including both the two-seam and four-seam fastball] for strikes at any time gives him an advantage at the start of his career. Being so big too, however, gives him the potential to possibly throw a little bit harder in the coming years as well.

"How I grew was pretty weird. When I went to high school I was 5-foot-9 and 110 pounds. I was real small. All of the sudden I grew and by the end of school I was 6-foot-6 and 170 [pounds] and a lot of schools weren't sure about me because I was throwing 84-86 mph max so I went to Eastern [Illinois] and when I left there I was 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, and my velo jumped six miles per hour.

"And I still do think there's a lot left. I'm still putting on weight and my pitching hasn't caught up to my weight yet, that's how I feel."

Whether he eventually begins to throw harder or not remains to be seen. But should added velocity come it could making for an intriguing case given his rather already polished mechanics and high level of command. Until that plays out he plans on sticking to his plan of throwing strikes and mixing in his pitches.

"I feel like I have to be a little bit finer. The conference I was in [in college] was fine but it wasn't like the SEC. I just have to make sure I'm finer and focused a little bit more on making pitches in certain situations and keeping the ball down.

"In school you're able to get away with keeping the ball up or getting it by somebody or in the dirt on a pitch that wasn't going to get the next level guys out so I feel like I just have to focus more on making better pitches in certain situations and keeping the ball down.

"I feel like I have good enough command right now but you can never have enough too good command so I want to keep working on that and I just want to get my name out there so everyone knows who I am," he concluded.











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Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball. Borens doesn't throw particularly hard, sitting mostly in the 89-92 mph range with both his sinking two-seam fastball and his four-seam fastball. But what he lacks in plus velocity he more than makes up with stellar command. He uses both fastballs and his taller frame with good downward plane to pepper all four quadrants of the strike zone with strikes. As tall and lean as he is, however, there is also the very realistic chance he could add an extra tick or two on his fastball as he continues to fill out his frame.

Other Pitches. Borens has three quality secondary pitches at his disposal, all of which range in the big league average vicinity right now. Sitting mostly in the 75-77 mph range, his curveball shows big break and he can consistently throw it for strikes. It's more of a get-me-over pitch than a true strikeout pitch but he can generate a fair number of swings and misses with it. His slider has gotten sharper recently, trending up from the 77 mph range to more of the 81-83 mph range. It shows good late break and he can locate it for strikes. It is his best strikeout pitch right now and one that shows a bit more long-term above average or better projection too. His changeup is built for contact and yet another pitch he can throw for strikes.

Pitching: Borens is the epitome of a "pitcher". He will mix in all five pitches, he can throw any of them for strikes in any count, and hitters can't sit on any one pitch or any one location. Despite being taller he is rather smooth and effortless in his delivery, and he shows an uncanny ability to repeat his mechanics. He can be a little easier to run against than his smaller pitching counterparts simply because of his longer wingspan but in the context of taller pitchers he is pretty adept at keeping the running game in-check.

Projection. While none of his pitches grade out as plus there are virtually no weaknesses in his game either. At 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds right now, and showing the potential to possibly continue filling out his still rather slender frame, there is a strong possibility he could add a little bit more power in the coming years so despite being a college pitcher he still has some untapped potential. And while the secondary pitches also grade out as average right now all three still show a lot of room for improvement. There are some legitimate Doug Fister-like comparisons right now given his size, smooth mechanics, and innate strike-throwing ability. Should Borens begin to develop one of his breaking pitches into the plus range in similar fashion he could have some legitimate big league starting potential.

ETA. 2017. Borens is perhaps the best equipped starting pitcher from the Staten Island staff this past season to make the jump over the low-A level and begin the 2015 season in high-A Tampa. Even if he begins the year in the South Atlantic League he might not be long for the level so he should still see significant time in the Florida State League next season.

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