An invitation to the Area Code Games frequently is a harbinger of bigger things if you are a blue-chip New Mexico high school pitcher.
Carlsbad’s Trevor Rogers was an ACG participant. The following year, in 2017, he was a first-round draft pick of the Miami Marlins.
Manzano’s Mitchell Parker appeared at the ACG three years ago. He was a fifth-round draft pick of the Washington Nationals two months ago.
Sandia right-handed pitcher Jacob Kmatz (pronounced k-MATS) is the most recent New Mexican to appear at the prestigious showcase event.
Last weekend near Atlanta, Kmatz, who started his senior year at Sandia this week, pitched two scoreless (and impressive) innings for a Southwest Region team.
With scores of major league radar guns trained on him, Kmatz – who sits in the low 90s with his fastball, but who also sports a curveball, slider and change – struck out three and yielded one hit.
“You’re going there to showcase yourself and trying to get your draft stock higher,” said the lean, 6-foot-3, 200-pound Kmatz. “Either way, when the draft comes, it’ll be a win-win situation for me. There are so many good hitters (at the ACG), that you need to compete.”
Kmatz is expected to sign his national letter of intent later this year with 2018 College World Series champion Oregon State.
The Area Code Games was the second of two major showcase appearances for Kmatz.
In June, he threw two scoreless innings (two hits, a walk, no strikeouts) at the Perfect Game National Showcase in Alabama. His next – and probably last – major outing of this calendar year comes in mid-October, at the World Wood Bat Championships in Florida.
“I think I got my first scouting report in October of 2019. It basically said that they knew the velocity would come as I got bigger and stronger,” Kmatz said. “… I just need to take the next eight months to get bigger and stronger in the weight room and put on a little more mass, and do what the scouts are looking for.”
Sharper break on his curve, higher velocity and a more refined delivery, Kmatz said, adding that his secondary pitches must better complement his four-seam fastball. That fastball, according to Perfect Game’s scouting report, is heavy down in the zone and also maintains velocity out of the stretch.
But this project is only half of his agenda. Next spring, he also hopes to lead Sandia to a state championship. The Matadors surely would have been a major player for a blue trophy in 2020, but the pandemic ended that dream.
“If we take the right precautions, we can get a full season in,” Kmatz said.