[As we began rolling out the Top 100 a month ago, Matthews was our No. 100 prospect. Given six players on our list elected free agency and three prospects were added in the Aaron Bummer trade, it made sense to reboot the list and make adjustments.]
2023 High Level Charlotte (Triple-A)
Age relative to high level -0.3 years
SSS rank among all shortstops in the system 6
Overall 2023 MiLB stats 48 games ⚾️ 4 HR ⚾️ 19 RBI ⚾️ .180/.314/.281 ⚾️ 20 BB ⚾️ 59 K ⚾️ 6-of-8 (75.0%) SB
Jason Matthews has had quite the baseball journey. Born and raised in New Zealand, both of his parents died when he was very young. His older sister, who was only 18 years old herself, raised him and worked as hard as she could so that he could pursue baseball and, specifically, go to college in America. Matthews hopes to make her proud by one day being the first Kiwi to make it to the major leagues.
In 2016, Matthews arrived in the States to play ball on an offer from Southeastern Community College in Burlington, Iowa. He spent two seasons playing the infield for the Blackhawks, slashing .286/.390/.441 over 198 plate appearances and serving as one of the leaders in their path to the 2018 NJCAA playoffs.
Beginning in 2019, Matthews transferred to Division I and played three successful seasons at the University of South Carolina Upstate, where he hit .319/.413/.400. After graduating in 2021, instead of declaring for the draft, he signed a three-year deal with Great Falls, once a rookie-ball affiliate of the White Sox and now an independent baseball team in the Pioneer League. He had an incredible first year with the Voyagers, winning International Player of the Year honors while posting a 351/.448/.551 slash line with eight homers and 69 RBIs over 78 games.
Then, his big moment came in January 2022, when the White Sox purchased his contract from Great Falls and, in April, assigned him to the Winston-Salem Dash. His first season in the minors was a tough one. He hit only .209/.310/.289 with two dingers, 36 walks, and 100 strikeouts in 91 games. Matthews also struggled defensively, committing 13 errors while playing second, short, and third.
After the 2022 MiLB season, he returned home to continue honing his craft and played for the Auckland Tuatara in the Australian Baseball League, where he hit a respectable .263/.346/.447 with a .794 OPS. Then, in 2023, he participated in White Sox spring training as a non-roster invitee.
To start the 2023 MiLB season, the organization sent Matthews back to Winston-Salem. Despite a slow start in 26 games, where he hit .171/.320/.220 with a .540 OPS, the Sox promoted him to Double-A Birmingham. He continued to battle offensively but demonstrated a slight improvement in 18 games, slashing .209/.320/.372 with a .692 OPS. With only a handful of games left in the season, Chicago promoted Matthews to Triple-A Charlotte, where he appeared in four games and hit a disappointing .143/.250/.357 with a .607 OPS. Throughout the season, he had a couple of stints on the injured and development lists, so he only played in a total of 48 games.
Jason Matthews waited a few games w/ Charlotte, but he goes 2-4 in the final game of the year, and he gets his first AAA HR, and it's no cheapie. Erik Gonzalez (1B) and Laz Rivera score. 7-0 #Knights. #WhiteSox pic.twitter.com/pitd1pAfsc— White Sox Daily (@dailywhitesox) September 24, 2023
The organization clearly sees value in Matthews as, despite his challenges in the minors so far, they continue to see what he can do at various levels. His talent would indicate a 2024 start back in Birmingham, while his age would point more toward a return, sink-or-swim assignment in Charlotte. He’s definitely demonstrated throughout his life and career that he’s a fighter, and passionate about doing whatever he can to make his dreams come true. We certainly need more of those types of players on the South Side.