The Astros have now hit every player group other than prep bat on day one, selecting a college hitter in J.J. Matijevic from Arizona. Primarily a first baseman for the Wildcats, Matijevic put himself squarely on the draft radar in the 2016 Cape, where he hit .376 and showed an advanced approach. He carried that momentum into the 2017 season successfully, leading the Arizona offense with a nutty .383/.436/.633 slash line, 38/23 K/BB mark and 30 doubles in 268 PAs.
A well below average runner, Matijevic is seen by many as a future first basemen, though some have selected that he could be passable in left field or even at second base. In the Houston system, he could potentially move quickly at the first base position, as the franchise is still waiting for one of their many corner infield prospects to truly seize first baseman of the future status.
A late bloomer, Matijevic’s offensive explosion can be attributed to significant mechanical changes he has made at the plate while in college, tapping into his significant raw power that was hampered by an unfavorable offensive environment at Arizona. The slugger has a chance to develop above average hit and power tools which could be enough to make him a regular at first base- particularly if his power continues to develop as it has in the last year.
Matijevic should be a straightforward sign and quickly head to short-season Tri-City where he will likely mash NYPL pitching and put himself on track for a full-season assignment in 2018. With significant raw power in his broad 5’11” frame, he has the potential to be a formidable six-hole type bat if his hitting skills translate.
While J.B. Bukauskas may command overslot money after appearing in virtually every mock top-10 leading up to Monday night, the Astros should still have a good amount of money left to work with heading into Wednesday to make another upside play or two, having used their last two selections on college players. Heading into Tuesday, they will likely be looking closely at left-handed pitchers and catchers, two positions that could use help at the minor-league level.