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White Sox’ Tyler Matzek continues to battle back to the majors

Matzek could be Don Cooper’s biggest challenge yet

Arizona Diamondbacks v Colorado Rockies - Game One Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The White Sox continued their world tour of 2009 first round draft picks by signing Tyler Matzek to a minor league deal. Matzek was draft by the Colorado Rockies as the 11th pick in the first round that season

Matzek, 26, starting 19 games for the Rockies in 2014, Matzek’s control started to crumble. He made five starts for the Rockies in 2015 where he walked 19 in 22 innings. That earned him a quick trip to the Rockies AAA team. In his only start there, he failed to make it out of the second inning, walking seven before being removed from the game. Matzek wasn’t exactly on the DL. He was getting treatment for anxiety.

After his disastrous outing in Triple-A, the Rockies removed Matzek from competition and he began working in side sessions with Mark Wiley, the Rockies’ director of pitching operations, pitching coordinator Doug Linton and McKay. Matzek also found his own sports anxiety specialist, and beginning in July, he began seeing him on a regular basis.

Matzek didn’t pitch again for nearly a month before resurfacing at the Rockies short season A-ball team. After two so-so relief appearances, the wheels came off in his third appearance. His outing went walk, strikeout, HBP, WP, walk, walk, walk, walk.

After another break, Matzek returned to the Rockies AAA Albuquerque team in mid-August, with some reasonable results.

The 2016 season started off with a new batch of struggles. After a rough spring training, Matzek was assigned to the Modesto Nuts in the California League. His job was simple at the start. Face just one batter per game. He continued that through most of May before working up to one inning per game through June and July. In August, he moved up the Rockies AA Hartford team. Unfortunately, the control struggles returned. In 5⅔ innings, Matzek walked 14 batters. This didn’t do much to help his future with the Rockies. In June, he had been outrighted off the 40-man roster, and at the end of the season, Matzek was released by the Rockies.

Matzek joins the Sox now as a big question mark. Matzek pitched with old friend Yency Almonte at both levels last season so would have heard the good and bad about the White Sox. Add in the issues that the Rockies have had with developing pitching and a dash of Don Cooper and a pinch of a cutter, and you have a change of scenery candidate. Matzek is a far more complicated case here, but this will be the third time that the Sox have taken on a pitcher with control and confidence issues from the Rockies. While Mitchell Boggs didn’t pan out, Tommy Kahnle started to look like something workable by September. If there’s a place where this might work out, this might be the right place for Matzek.