Matt Stites was acquired from the San Diego Padres in a trade that sent starting pitcher Ian Kennedy from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Friars. Stites is a hard-throwing reliever with very high potential, though his small frame raises questions as to whether or not he can reach his ceiling.
Despite his small frame, the hard-throwing right-handed pitcher has dominated the minor leagues his entire three-year career. In 2011, between rookie-ball and low-A, Stites pitched to a 1.82 ERA in 34.2 innings with 10.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. He also had a remarkable 0.635 WHIP. In 2012, in A-ball, Stites pitched 48.2 innings with a sparkling 0.74 ERA. He had elite control as well with just 0.6 BB/9 and 11.1 K/9.
At double-A in 2013, Stites pitched to a 2.08 ERA in 52 innings with a career-low 8.8 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9. Despite still being very good, the right-hander clearly wasn’t as dominant as he had been at the lower minor league levels.
Stites’ repertoire includes a mid-90s fastball, a developing changeup and a very good slider. He clearly has the stuff to get more than his fair share of strikeouts, but he also has outstanding command of his pitches. His great K/9 and BB/9 rates are almost unheard of. Most of the time, a pitcher has either a high K/9 or a good BB/9 — not both.