After racking up a college career that will show up in the Arizona Wildcats record books for many years to come, JJ Matijevic will start his professional career in the Houston Astros organization after being selected 75th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft.
The signing bonus slot value for the 75th pick is $767,400 this year.
Matijevic won the Pac-12 Batting Title this year, and was arguably snubbed by not being named the conference’s player of the year. With a final batting average of .383 this season, he was 17th nationally in that category. He also led the Pac-12 in RBI (65) and slugging percentage (.633).
What really stood out about his junior campaign was his knack for finding the outfield gaps no matter where he was playing. Matijevic racked up 30 doubles, equaling his output in his first two years in Tucson combined. It was also tied for the most doubles in the country with Mississippi State redshirt junior Brent Rooker. Rooker was selected 35th overall by the Minnesota Twins.
Towards the end of the year, we started to see Matijevic have defensive shifts deployed against him, and he started grounding out to a second baseman in right field more often than had happened throughout his career. But his Cape Cod League spray chart from 2016 shows his ability to use the entire field.
The one glaring issue with Matijevic — and perhaps the reason that he was kept all the way down at No. 70 on Baseball America’s top prospects list — is the fact that he’s a defensive liability. Arizona played him almost exclusively at first base this past season with a sprinkling of innings at second base. Despite what the fielding numbers show (.996 fielding % in 2017), Matijevic struggled with some of the fundamentals at both first and second base.
If the Astros are able to get him to excel at a particular position, then Matijevic could become a very valuable prospect in that organization. His bat is obviously one of the better ones available out of college this year, and it might help that Houston is an American League team.
It is interesting that the Astros announced him as a second baseman.
Good luck to JJ moving forward. Good dude that could do big things at the next level.