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“The Pirates do it right. They’re rebuilding the right way.”


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – At 26 years old, Zach Matson has seen a lot of baseball.

In 2016, he was a 24th round pick by the Baltimore Orioles. He was in the organization until 2021, when he was released and picked up by the Colorado Rockies.

Matson, who possesses a career strikeouts per nine of 11.2 in the minor leagues, was selected by the Pirates in the Minor League portion of the Rule Five Draft this past winter. Additionally in his travels, Matson has seen a few rebuilds.

“I saw a regime change through the Orioles,“ Matson said. “It feels like I’ve been with four organizations. The Pirates do it right. They’re rebuilding the right way. I saw the Orioles go through this rebuild. They are starting to see that now. They’re doing good things here. I think everyone should be very excited for the farm system.”

As for the selection, Matson said his agent told him to pay attention, because he was getting a few calls prior to the Rule 5. Matson admitted that he turned on the television, and he was selected about 30 seconds later. Appreciating the time savings, he was also excited to see his name flash across the television to join a new organization with new opportunity.

“It was super exciting,“ Matson said. “I wasn’t really expecting it. In the off-season you’re not really looking for anything, and then all the sudden the Rule 5 comes up and your name goes.”

The career progression for Matson through the Orioles organization was quite stagnant. His lone season in the Rockies system in 2021 was his first taste of Double-A baseball. He started this season with Double-A Altoona, and joined Indianapolis in late May.

His role with Indianapolis, has been difficult to define. He has appeared and 25 games with 10 starts. He has also finished seven contests. He’s worked more than one inning eight times. He has appeared in seven of the nine possible innings in a game. Matson gives new meaning to a Swiss army knife.

“[This role is] definitely something to adapt to,“ Matson said. “Last year I was kind of the jam guy. I would come in and get out of a jam. This year, I’ve had a lot of different roles. You try to make yourself as valuable as possible and be ready for any situation. This year has been good to prepare me for that, so when I’m in the big leagues, if they asked me to spot start, I’ll be ready. I’m grateful for it.“

The one thing that is consistent in any role that Matson has seen, is he dominates left-handed hitters. Lefties are just 13-for-69 against him this season, with only four extra-base hits.

Between his 3.1 walks per nine in Altoona, and a bit of an elevated 5.3 in Indianapolis, Matson’s walks are pretty much on par with his career average. He is certainly a high strike out pitcher, though that has dwindled a bit in Triple-A.

Even while tossing the second most innings he has in his career, Matson said his body feels better than ever. He went into the second half of the season strong, and feels prepared going into 2023.

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Ryan Palencer
Ryan Palencer
Ryan has been following Indianapolis baseball for most of his life, and the Pirates since they became the affiliate in 2005. He began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2013, in a stint that ran through 2016 (with no service time manipulation played in). Ryan rejoined the team in 2022, covering Indianapolis once again. He has covered the Pirates in four different big league stadiums. Ryan was also fortunate enough to cover the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati.

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