Matt Mikulski, LHP
BATS: L / THROWS: L
ACQUIRED: Drafted 2021, 2nd Round
LAST LEVEL: High-A
VOLATILITY: Very High
GiantFutures 2023 Ranks: #9 Relief Pitcher
2022 Performance: Matt Mikulski ended up having a forgettable first pro season after such a promising debut. Mikulski worked mostly as a starter in San Jose, but ended up a 6.95 ERA through 22 appearances, striking out 96 while walking 31 in 79.0 innings. However, he also gave up 94 hits, and 12 home runs, in those 79.0 innings.
Mikulski was a starter full-time through the end of June, but in July his appearances got more sparse, as he switched to relief and appeared only three times in the month, despite not going on the injured list. He had one more relief appearance in August, where he allowed eight runs in 1.1 innings, but then went back to starting. His season ended at the end of August with nine runs allowed in a 2.0 inning start, and was placed on the injured list with an undisclosed injury where he missed the rest of the season. He had a 17.76 ERA in August, which jumped his ERA up from 4.88 to 6.95.
The left-handed Mikulski unusually struggled against left-handed batters, who were able to hit him to the tune of a .351 batting average on the season, while righties hit just .284 against him. He was drafted off of a triple-digit fastball in college, but his fastball was down to 90 mph on the season, and he was reportedly dealing with knee pain as well.
Strengths and Weaknesses: His biggest strength as a draft prospect became perhaps his biggest weakness, as his plus fastball has dipped from high-90s to low-90s. That’s a below-average velocity now. His best pitch right now is a low-80’s slider that has good movement, but it still is an average pitch. He also throws a slow curve and a subpar changeup.
The question is how much of his velocity drop is due to his knee problems, and if he can get it back up now that he’s presumably healthy. There’s also questions about whether or not the changes the Giants made to his delivery cost him the deception he previously had in his delivery, which was a big part of his earlier success.
2023 Outlook: Mikulski is reportedly healthy for the 2023 season, but with knee problems, it might hasten him to a full-time switch to relief in 2023. Mikulski’s probably 50-50 to return to San Jose or move to Eugene, depending on his spring.
Future Profile: At his best, Mikulski has the makings of a power reliever, where a high-90’s fastball and a low-80’s slider could be a lethal combination, and his other pitches are not as needed. But he’s far from his best, and may not profile as well for a middle relief role.