Apparently undeterred by the Wagner Mateo mess, the Cardinals have reached an agreement with another controversial Latin American prospect.
The club has announced it has signed Dominican pitcher Carlos Matias to a $1.6-million contract, pending a physical and a background check.
A background check?
It seems Matias, who is believed to be 18, reached a deal for $160,000 last year to play for the Red Sox. But it was later determined that he lied about his identity and his age. Major League Baseball suspended Matias for a year and Boston withdrew their offer.
Whomever he is, the kid the Cardinals signed has what is reported to be one of the best fastballs scouts have ever seen. According to Baseball America, it's been clocked at up to 99 MPH with excellent movement.
Here's what BA had to say about it:
Between the velocity and cutting action on his fastball, it is a true 80 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale, already one of the best fastballs at any level of baseball.
"He has outstanding control," said Moises Rodriguez, the Cardinals director of international operations. "People tend to get excited when you see velo in the high-90s, but he's throwing upper-90s with excellent control."
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Matias' secondary pitches have received mixed reviews, but he throws an average mid-80s changeup with good arm speed and sink as well as a 78-80 mph curveball that flashes late break.
That velocity is remarkable considering that Matias is only six feet tall and 165 pounds. While his contract is still pending, Matias has been allowed to join the Cardinals' Dominican League team where he struck out six of the 12 batters he has faced so far.
The Cardinals last season signed top Dominican prospect Wagner Mateo to a $3.1-million contract only to void the deal shortly thereafter when Mateo had a medical exam. The Birds reportedly found he had a vision problem that resulted in a very ugly situation when the team took the contract away from the kid and came off as heartless bullies. Mateo recently signed a $512,000 deal with the Diamondbacks organization.