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Why Burrell can't stop raving about Giants prospect Matos

/ by Dalton Johnson
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Pat Burrell

The Giants are in the best of both worlds right now. They have exceeded expectations this season as legitimate World Series contenders. Every step of the way, their future continues to look even brighter than the present thanks to a rising farm system.

Luis Matos is a big reason why. 

The 19-year-old outfielder had an outstanding season this year for the San Jose Giants at the Low-A West level. Pat Burrell had a front-row seat to many Matos games this year, and the slugger turned roving hitting instructor can't help but rave about the young and talented Giants prospect.

"This is the guy I talk about most. I just can't help but talk about him," Burrell said Tuesday on KNBR's "Papa & Lund" show. "You don't see a lot of guys hitting for high average anymore. He's a guy who -- he drove in 85 runs. I love that.

"That seems to be something that gets overlooked in this new game, but I think it's really important for a guy who hits 15 homers, which is plenty ... but to drive in 85, that tells me this guy has a knack for driving guys in when they're on base."

Actually, it was 86 runs. 

Matos finished the regular season slashing .315/.358/.494 in 109 games. He led Low-A West in hits (141), doubles (35) and RBI. He went more than two games hitless only once, and his 21 stolen bases also led San Jose. 

 

All while being the youngest player on the team.

"I love him as a player," Burrell said. "I mean, he's got a plus-plus arm and like you said, he can run. He does chase. But he doesn't strikeout and he doesn't walk as well."

Knowing he has advanced bat-to-ball skills, Matos walked only 28 times this season but also struck out just 61 times. He did have a high BABIP of .332 and has a .358 career BABIP that doesn't seem too sustainable for the long haul. 

Though Matos is a much different athlete and built as his opposite, there is a Giants fan-favorite who reminds Burrell of Matos for his approach at the plate. 

"It's a rare combination. It's kind of like Pablo [Sandoval] where they can cover everything," Burrell said. "We'd like to tighten that up, but it's a tough thing to tell a guy where everything that comes out of the pitcher's hand he can actually hit.

"It's a challenge that you just don't see much. The bat speed's there. I love his swing, I love the speed he creates and he's only gonna get better."

RELATED: Giants minor league review: Two affiliates going for titles

Matos is ranked as the Giants' No. 4 prospect by Baseball America and No. 3 by MLB Pipeline. ESPN's Kiley McDaniel believes Matos is the Giants prospect who improved his stock most this season. 

At his age and with his production, it's easy to see why Burrell is infatuated by Matos, and it soon will be hard not to have him in the same breath as Giants No. 1 prospect Marco Luciano.

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