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What Is "Who Is Carlos Matias?"

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If you've checked Future Redbirds recently, but not too recently, you might have noticed that atop their sidebar is the following Ayn Randian question: Who is Carlos Matias?

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If he passes his identity check, he might be the Cardinals' second-best pitching prospect. He is apparently a 18 year-old Dominican with a high-90s, tops-in-the-system fastball and the beginnings of a few other pitches. A few weeks ago the Cardinals signed him to a $1.5 million deal, one of the biggest foreign free agent deals of the season. The problem: last year the Red Sox signed him as a 16 year-old pitching prospect. After that contract was nullified he's come clean, apparently, and added a year to his birthdate, but while he's already played for the Cardinals' Dominican Summer League team—21 strikeouts against three walks in 17 innings—his contract going through is far from a sure thing. From Viva El Birdos:

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Right now, with Matias showing a high-90s fastball to multiple scouts, I have no idea why he would lie about his age, which is not to say he isn't still doing it. Young pitchers aren't like young hitters; teams are terrified of the way they might develop, not excited about it, and once Matias flashes the golden fastball it's to his benefit to be older than 18. He'll get to the Major Leagues faster, he'll be on a less-restrictive pitching regimen, and he's likely to get paid more from teams leery of their teenagers losing velocity a la Madison Bumgarner or Deolis Guerra.

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It's to a hitter's benefit to be as young as he possibly can be relative to a given league; as Richard Castillo has proven in the Cardinals system, it's not nearly as useful for pitchers. If Matias insists on continuing to forge his documents he should consider trying to remain 23 for two or three years in a row; that seems like the young-pitcher sweet spot. 

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So don't hold your breath, but prepare to start holding your breath, I guess.

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