Rangers pick not worried about stature

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Kevin Matthews, the Rangers' first pick on Monday (33rd overall), knows that the first thing people note about him is his size. The left-handed pitcher stands anywhere from 5-foot-10 to 6-foot depending on which bio you're reading. He weighs 180 pounds, so no matter how you list it, Matthews isn't exactly a large power lefty.

"Growing up, everybody would say how I'm a smaller guy and I would use that to prove people wrong," Matthews said. "For me, it's never been a problem. I go to workouts and I'm the smallest guy and I've been where the pitchers are all 6-4 and I'm always the shortest guy. I always laugh that I'm hanging out with the trees. I don't think size matters. As long as you get the job done and do what you're supposed to do, the shortest guy is just as good as the tallest guy."

The Rangers sure aren't worried about his size.

"There are always exceptions to a rule and I think this kid is," said Kip Fagg, Rangers' director of amateur scouting. "This kid pitches with a chip and I like that."

Matthews has been clocked in the low 90s and throws a slider and changeup in addition to the fastball. He was 4-2 with a 1.68 ERA in 10 games for Richmond Hill as a senior and had 94 strikeouts with just 14 walks, giving up 18 hits in 42 innings. He said he wants to develop his changeup more and that will be a main focus as he starts his professional career, along with "managing the game better." Matthews and the Rangers don't expect this to be a protracted negotiation process.

"I want to sign and get started as soon as I can so I can get used to the guys and get used to the program," Matthews said. "I think the sooner I start, the better."

Matthews confirmed he can dunk a basketball, proving the Rangers' belief that he's a very good athlete. Fagg is not only impressed by Matthews' stuff, but his character.

"He's very athletic and a kid whose makeup is special," Fagg said. "We see big upside with him in a small frame. He's got athleticism, three-pitch mix, strikes, competitiveness. There are a lot of things you can say are special with this kid.

Fagg said he fits the Robbie Erlin, Robbie Ross, Martin Perez group of pitching prospects currently in the Rangers' system.

"We feel very comfortable that this kid is going to come right in and fit in with what we've got with the Rangers," Fagg said.