Yankees Top 30 Prospects for 2021: Matt Sauer (RHP, #26)
The Yankees 2nd round draft pick in 2017, Sauer was paid handsomely over-slot bonus to skip his college commitment. After ending his season in 2017, Sauer was slowly moving up the minor league ranks before losing most of his 2019 to TJS. Now 2 years out from playing any professional ball, the stock is low. But, could his future still be high?
MATT SAUER, RHP (#26):
Age/Date of Birth: 22 Years Old (01/21/1999)
Most Recent Team(s) (Level and Year): Charleston RiverDogs (Class A, 2019); Staten Island Yankees (Short Season Class A; 2018)
Most Recent Yearly Statistics (2019, Regular Season): 2 Games Started (2 Appearances), 0-1 Record, 2.08 ERA, 8.2 Innings, 6 Walks, 8 Strikeouts, 1.38 WHIP
Most Recent Yearly Statistics (2018, Regular Season): 13 Games Started (13 Appearances), 3-6 Record, 3.90 ERA, 67.0 Innings, 18 Walks, 45 Strikeouts, 1.16 WHIP
Height/Weight: 6’4”/195 Pounds
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 MLB First Year Player Draft by the New York Yankees with the 54th overall pick.
MLB ETA: 2023
KEN WALDICHUK SCOUTING GRADES (20-80 SCALE):
What to Know:
Drafted out of Righetti High School (Santa Maria, CA), the New York Yankees were able to convince the high school reliever Sauer to give up his commitment to Arizona. Instead of college, he signed on to play professional ball after being given a $2.5 Million signing bonus (with the money saved from their under-slot first round pick).
Sauer would start his professional career in 2017 as an 18-year-old with the Yankees West (Rookie, Gulf Coast League) where he would be transitioned to a starter, going 11.2 innings over 6 games (all starts). The next year in 2018, and knowing what Sauer had in terms of tools, the Yankees then moved him up to the Staten Island Yankees (Short Season Class A, New York-Penn League) where he would start all 13 games, go 67.0 innings, and have a 3.90 ERA while being about 2.5 years younger than everybody else.
2019 would bring new challenges to Sauer who was promoted again up to the Charleston RiverDogs (Class A, South Atlantic League), yet he would make just 2 starts with 8.2 innings before getting shut down after blowing out his elbow and needing Tommy John surgery. Then, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a long while before Sauer found himself on the mound in a professional setting again.
As a high schooler, Sauer combined his above-average fastball which sats in the mid-90s pre-surgery with a curveball and a slider. He has since kept the curveball which sits in the low-80’s and has decent break, and the Yankees had him drop his slider for a changeup that he needs to work on slowing down.
What Will the Future Hold?
After nearly two years away from pitching and less than 100 innings of combined work since being drafted in 2017 there are a lot of questions as to what the future holds for Sauer. At the moment he has already been assigned to the Tampa Tarpons (Low Single-A, Southeast), which gives us the expectation from the Yankees for where he should play going into the season.
Formerly one of the Yankees top prospects, Sauer’s stock has taken a large hit after these past two seasons. While there is hope that he will be able to regain his composure as a starter, some scouts even pre-surgery were under the expectation his future (and likely way to break into the MLB) was destined for the bullpen. Either way, it would seem in the Yankees best interest to play it slower with Sauer. Still just 22 years old, he still could have a future as a starter and it’d be a waste of a former high talent to push him to relief duties long-term already.