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Red Sox prospect Bryan Mata hits 100 m.p.h. in competitive return from Tommy John surgery

Bryan Mata, 23, is considered by many to have the best pure stuff in the Red Sox system.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

A top Red Sox pitching prospect arrived at a milestone Thursday morning.

Righthander Bryan Mata, who underwent Tommy John surgery last April, threw two innings in an extended spring training game — his first competition against batters from another organization since his operation. He didn’t allow a hit, struck out five, walked two, and his fastball topped out at 100 miles per hour.

Mata, 23, showed potentially overpowering stuff in 2019 (7-7, 3.43 ERA, 111 strikeouts and 42 walks in 105 innings in High A and Double A) and again at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket during the 2020 season.


Pre-injury, Mata topped out regularly in the upper 90s while showing a swing-and-miss slider as well as the potential to mix in both a curveball and changeup, displaying what most considered the best pure stuff in the system.

His relatively high walk rate (9.3 percent) has raised questions about whether he can stick as a starter or will eventually move to the bullpen, but in either role, he is considered to have a high ceiling.

Mata seems likely to start a rehab assignment when the Florida Complex League season begins in early June. The Sox plan to keep him on a starter’s schedule, with hopes of getting him to Triple A Worcester this summer. Mata could be paired there with Brayan Bello, who struck out 10 in his Triple A debut Wednesday.

While the Sox are likely to proceed deliberately with Mata’s rehab, it’s not out of the question that he could emerge as a big league consideration by the end of this year if his rehab continues on its current steady track.

Alex Speier can be reached at Follow him @alexspeier.