Rockies' top pick pays visit to Colorado
Lefty Matzek eager to earn his way back to Coors Field
DENVER -- Left-handed pitcher Tyler Matzek, the Rockies' No. 1 pick in this year's First-Year Player Draft, was certain he was going to spurn the club's offer and attend the University of Oregon.
"I was still going to be a Duck, but when it came down to that last 30 minutes -- actually the last 10 minutes, that's when I made my decision," Matzek said. "It was just a gut feeling. It felt right."
Matzek, 18, accepted the Rockies' club-record $3.9 million offer before the deadline and was at Coors Field on Friday to formally sign and introduce himself to the club and the media. Stanford right-hander Greg Reynolds received the previous record, $3.25 million, as the team's top choice in 2006.
Matzek, who went 13-1 as a senior at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, Calif., this past season, will head to the Rookie-level club in Casper, Wyo., and said a stint at advanced Class A Tri-City in Pasco, Wash., is a possibility before he joins the Rockies' fall instructional program in Tucson, Ariz., after the season.
Matzek, who also hit .380 and was told he could play first base at Oregon, has seen his fastball clocked at 97 mph. But Friday, while touring the Rockies' clubhouse, he admitted being on the receiving end of some zingers.
"Todd [Helton] is a great guy -- he was picking on me a little bit, but it's all right," Matzek said. "It's been great. I've met a lot of nice people. The entire organization is very family-oriented.
"It makes me want to come here as soon as possible."
To begin what he hopes is a trip back to Coors Field, Matzek will go from facing high schoolers to pitching against professionals, many of them with college backgrounds. The fresh-faced Matzek is not bothered.
"I just look at them as an opponent, it doesn't matter where they come from," Matzek said. "If they're in front of me, I've got to beat them."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.