Lefty hurler Matt Imhof quickly shot toward the rankings of Phillies top prospects after being selected as their 2nd round pick in 2014. Following a season in which he suffered an injury to his throwing arm, Imhof’s position on such lists has taken a hit.
Regarded as a polished college hurler, the Cal Poly product looked tremendous in his junior season, posting a 10-4 record with a 2.45 ERA and an 11.24 K/9 mark in 15 starts while earning second team All-American honors and leading to him being drafted 47th overall. He wrapped up his college career with an 18-7 record and a 2.68 ERA in 48 games.
After the draft, Imhof quickly signed his first pro deal and proceeded to pitch at three levels of the developmental ranks in 2014. Following his initial outing in which he tossed three scoreless frames for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies, Imhof was promoted to short-season A level Williamsport. As a member of the Crosscutters, he posted a 1-0 record while allowing just one earned run in 12 innings (0.75 ERA).
In mid-July that year, the six-foot-five 220-pounder earned another promotion to Class A Lakewood, where he tallied a 0-2 record with a 4.28 ERA in seven starts.
Overall in 11 minor league appearances in his initial turn as a pro, the California native posted a .260 batting average against along with an 8.5 K/9 mark as well as a 2.3 BB/9 mark.
After moving up a level to begin his 2015 campaign with Class A Advanced Clearwater, Imhof missed two months in his first full pro season, dealing with a bicep strain.
In 18 starts for the Threshers, Imhof sported an 8-5 record with a 3.94 ERA and a .248 BAA. He struck out 59 and walked 39 in 77 2/3 innings for the Threshers.
The 22-year-old’s pitch repertoire includes a fastball along with slider-curve hybrid that has sharp break and helps him fool batters along with a developing change up. The change up was something Imhof began using increasingly after the draft and will become a true weapon as he refines it. His fastball velocity seemed to take a dip following the injury last year, sitting in the upper-80’s quite often. Historically, he had regularly clocked at 92 MPH and reached 94 from time to time.
Additionally, the California native has a good feel on the mound and his control is a noteworthy aspect of his skill set. His wind up features some nice concealment of the ball resulting in difficulty for batters in picking up his offerings.
The big-framed Imhof was projected to have plus potential on his velocity, prior to last season’s throwing arm issue. It was expected that his body would fill out more, adding strength, and could then reach the mid-90’s with more regularly.
Imhof, who grew up idolizing Randy Johnson, should figure in the rotation battle at the Double-A level for Reading this year.
Image by Jay Floyd.