Matt Sauer was once a high-profile high school draft pick, with the New York Yankees selecting the right-hander out of a California high school in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Injuries and a pandemic have slowed the progress of the now 24-year-old, who spent most of the season having success in Double-A. After holding batters to a .189 batting average at Double-A, Sauer was tabbed to finish the season in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, usually reserved for top prospects.
What Matt Sauer has done in the Arizona Fall League
In 7.2 innings across five relief appearances, Sauer has been dominant, holding opponents to a .125 batting average, striking out 12 batters with a 2.35 ERA.
Sauer spent most of his minor league career as a starter, with just three relief appearances. After regaining some prospect footing in 2021, a so-so 2022 almost crashed Sauer's prospect status. His fastball velocity was down to 92-93 mph, coming off a peak of 97 mph in 2021. FanGraphs' Eric Logenhagen even kept Sauer off his main section of Yankees' prospects, including him in the Honorable Mention section. It appears that Sauer is throwing harder, and has improved both his curveball and splitter, according to an August interview with Greg Johnson of The Trentonian. Sauer's final regular season game was a sparkling start against New Hampshire, allowing one earned run across 6.1 innings with nine strikeouts.
Looking at the video above, two different breaking balls are discernible, and the slider velocity seems to catch hitters off guard. The pitch almost acts as a cutter, and the changeup and splitter play well off a hard fastball.
Sauer is once again eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, meaning he needs to be placed on the Yankess' 40-man roster or the organization risks losing him to another team. Given the constant need and turnover in bullpens, Sauer is making a strong case to pitch in the big leagues in 2024.