WYATT MATHISEN, THIRD BASEMAN
|Born: December 30, 1993
Drafted: 2nd Round, 69th Overall, 2012
How Acquired: Draft
High School: Calallen HS, TX
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Mathisen played all over the field in high school, including shortstop and pitcher, but is expected to be a catcher as a pro. He obviously has very good athleticism, but may have fallen a little in the draft because he hadn’t caught that much. Baseball America rated him the top prep catcher and the 47th best draft prospect. Still, scouts believe he has the ability to be a good defensive catcher with a strong arm. He has good strength and should be able to hit for both power and average. He also has average speed, which would be above average for a catcher. He had a commitment to Texas, but was eager to start his pro career and signed right after the draft for the slot amount.
Mathisen had a good debut in the GCL. He hit for average and showed very good plate discipline. The power hasn’t shown up yet, but that’s not unusual for an 18-year-old. He split catching duties with Jin-De Jhang and did well behind the plate, throwing out 36% of would-be base stealers. He was out briefly with a foot fracture and after returning often came out of games he was catching in the late innings, but he still ended up getting significant time behind the plate. Baseball America named him the 5th best prospect in the GCL in a strong year for the league.
Mathisen had a rough year in 2013. The Pirates pushed him to West Virginia, which was an ambitious assignment both due to his age (he played the season at 19) and his inexperience at such a tough position. He had problems on both offense and defense. Behind the plate, his inexperience in receiving showed, although he did throw out a decent 26% of base stealers. At the plate, he struggled to hit with any authority, showing no power. The one positive sign was that his K rate wasn’t too bad, so he wasn’t completely overwhelmed. In late May, he was shut down due to shoulder problems and he ended up having labrum surgery. The shoulder apparently had been bothering him for much of the season, so it may account for some of his struggles. He returned in time to rehab in the GCL and at Jamestown.
Mathisen’s 2013 season wasn’t encouraging, but it’s impossible to know how much resulted from inexperience and from the shoulder injury. The Pirates figured to have three catching prospects who were ready for the low A level in 2014: Mathisen, Jhang and 2013 first rounder Reese McGuire. The team initially addressed the situation by indicating that it would move Jhang up to Bradenton. Partway through spring training, though, the Pirates also announced that Mathisen would move to third base in 2014. He spent the season as the regular there with West Virginia, except for missing a month starting in late June with a leg injury he sustained in a collision at third. He made solid progress at the plate. After getting only one extra base hit in April, he had a minor power binge in May, including all three of his HRs. He posted an .807 OPS in June, then after missing most of July put up a .720 OPS in August. Overall he did a good job of controlling the strike zone. He had a huge platoon split, with a .922 OPS against LHPs and .633 against RHPs. Mathisen had trouble with errors at third, with just a .910 fielding percentage, but that’s not surprising considering the position switch.
Mathisen was the starter at third for Bradenton. He put up largely the same numbers as the previous year, but he did so in an extreme pitchers league. Although his slugging average, for instance, was unimpressive, it was slightly above the league average. He continued to put up solid walk and strikeout rates. His numbers actually were worse for most of the year, but he had a big month in August, hitting 276/414/471, with 18 walks and only 11 whiffs, and with ten of his 21 extra base hits, including three of his four HRs. Whether that was a sign of things to come is hard to say, although his September performance — 2-for-16 with seven strikeouts — may show it wasn’t necessarily. Mathisen hit slightly better on the road than at home, so he wasn’t helped much by McKechnie Field, and he had a slight reverse platoon split. In the field, he cut down on his errors and showed better range.
Mathisen was hampered by shoulder problems in camp and wasn’t able to play until mid-June. The Pirates sent him to Bradenton and he got into only 35 games, with just 26 coming at third. I don’t know whether that’s because they were being cautious with his shoulder or because of the presence of Connor Joe, whom the team apparently was determined to keep at third base full time. Ironically, Mathisen had his best season at the plate, although it was a small sample size.
Mathisen was eligible for the Rule 5 draft, but wasn’t selected. He came into training camp in exceptional condition and spent the season as the third baseman at Altoona. He hit well for much of the season, with a 295/382/409 line before the league’s all-star break, but he slumped to 232/312/290 afterward. On the whole, he didn’t show enough power for third. He didn’t hit LHPs well, with a .662 OPS against them.
Mathisen ended up back at Altoona at the start of the season. He got off to an outstanding start, but with prospects at every infield position, the Curve didn’t have much playing time for him. In early May, Mathisen moved up to Indianapolis and spent the rest of the year there as a utility player. Between the two levels, he played more first than anything else, but also saw time at second and third. He hit reasonably well in AAA, with improved power.
Mathisen will finally be a free agent after the season.
|2018: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $746,300
MiLB Debut: 2012
MiLB FA Eligible: 2018
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 5, 2012: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2nd round, 69th overall pick; signed on June 11.|