The Oakland Athletics picked up another player you haven't heard of on Thursday, claiming outfielder Kent Matthes from the Colorado Rockies. Matthes was added to the 40-man roster in place of Jarrod Parker, who was transferred to the 60-day DL. The 27-year-old right-handed hitter was immediately optioned to Triple-A and sent to minor league camp.
Matthes has never appeared in a major league game, so let's not get too excited. However, he was a fourth-round pick in 2009 and was the Rockies' 16th-best prospect last winter, according to Baseball America (via Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors).
Adams has a few other notes on Matthes:
"As BA notes, a torn patellar tendon, a broken hand and an oblique strain have severely shortened three of his minor league campaigns. However, he was still good enough in 2011 to take home California League MVP honors for batting .334/.378/.642 with 23 homers in 93 games before his hand was broken when it was hit by a pitch ... Matthes is an average runner with one of the strongest arms in the Rockies' system and profiled as a solid defender in right field."
Minor league career: 1606 PA's, .275/.332/.505, 66 home runs, 100 walks, 375 strikeouts
2014 spring training: .278/.300/.444 (5-for-18), 1 homer, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Link to Baseball-Reference page
There's no mystery as to why Matthes was waived. He's too old to be a prospect, he hasn't proven himself on the field and he's been injured throughout his career. Even when he's hit well, he's been way too old for his league. Time just ran out for him in Colorado.
Of course, if you're looking for something to get excessively excited over, consider this. Matthes is exactly the kind of guy who can be picked up cheap and then surprise everybody. He hasn't opened any eyes, but that's at least partly been because he was injured. Perhaps there is some untapped talent in there that has failed to show up due to the fact that he hasn't stayed on the field? I'm not saying that's in any way likely, or that I believe that will happen. Just spitballin' here.
More likely, Matthes is simply minor league depth. Michael Taylor is killing the ball this spring, to the extent that he has received interest from multiple teams, according to Susan Slusser:
"I know I say this almost every day, but it happens every day: scouts asking about the A's plans for Michael Taylor ... He won't clear waivers, not with this level of interest. One scout told me today he would love to see his club trade for Taylor because he knows Taylor would not fall to that club on the waiver wire; one scout told me two days ago he's pretty sure his team either already has made an offer or is preparing to make an offer for Taylor."
Jane Lee had this to say about Taylor's situation:
"Taylor has had a great spring, but he doesn't quite fit the profile of a fourth outfielder like Fuld does, and Fuld is the more experienced one with a pair of opt-out dates in his pocket. So it's more likely the A's try to trade Taylor here in the next week, because it's almost guaranteed he wouldn't pass through waivers."
Here's how things look to me. Taylor will be out of the organization by the end of the month, because there is no starting role for him, he won't succeed as a part-time backup, he's out of options and he's playing well enough that someone will claim him if he's not traded. Craig Gentry will almost certainly start the regular season on the DL, which means that Sam Fuld will make the Opening Day roster. With Michaels Taylor and Choice gone from last year's squad and reinforcement Fuld already needed in the majors, the outfield will be a bit thin in Sacramento. Matthes will join the mix with Billy Burns, Shane Peterson, Conner Crumbliss and Jake Goebbert (among others, probably).