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MLB Draft 2016: Dodgers take RHP Chris Mathewson in 19th round

Chris Mathewson struck out 107 in 104 1/3 innings for Long Beach State in 2016.
Chris Mathewson struck out 107 in 104 1/3 innings for Long Beach State in 2016.
Photo: John Fajardo | Long Beach State Athletics

The Dodgers took another local product in the 19th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, selecting Long Beach State right-handed pitcher Chris Mathewson.

The 21-year-old draft-eligible sophomore had a 3.62 ERA in 16 starts for Long Beach State in 2016, with 107 strikeouts and 43 walks in 104⅓ innings. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in the regional round of the NCAA Baseball Tournament in a win over Florida Atlantic two weekends ago.

The right-hander was even better in his freshman season, putting up a 1.94 ERA in 13 starts, with 80 strikeouts and 24 walks in 93 innings, earning Big West Freshman of the Year and first-team All-Conference honors.

The difference was injuries, and though Mathewson hasn't had a history of arm trouble like some of the Dodgers' draft class, he dealt with his fair share of maladies during his two years in college, including ACL surgery after his freshman year, detailed by Bob Keisser of the Orange County Register in May:

Before his freshman season, he tore the meniscus in his right knee in a home accident and had surgery to repair the injury. He had swelling after most starts in 2015 but shrugged it off as normal wear and tear.

After the season, further tests discovered a torn anterior cruciate ligament. His reaction was typically competitive, doctors preached caution but Mathewson told everyone he would be ready for opening day.

"He’s healthy but there’s always a cost from knee surgery," [Long Beach State head coach Troy] Buckley said. "Sometimes he sort of bypasses his leg drive and pitches on adrenaline. We added a glove tap (prior to making a pitch) so he stays in rhythm."

"I haven’t been at my best," Mathewson said. "I over-throw at times. But it’s all mechanics. I always feel like I can overcome whatever is going on."

Mathewson played baseball at Kaiser High School in Fontana, and he was drafted by the Rangers in the 28th round in 2014, but he did not sign.

It was at Kaiser where Mathewson put up sub-1.00 ERAs as both a junior and a senior, thanks in part to learning how to throw a slider as a high school sophomore.

"I was working on a slider but I never threw it because I didn’t like it," Mathewson told J.J. Fiddler of the Long Beach State Press-Telegram in 2015. "But one day during a bullpen my coach (Rob Ridge) showed me a few small adjustments. It just clicked. You could say I learned the slider in one day. Now it’s my out pitch."

Mathewson is the first Long Beach State player drafted by the Dodgers since taking right-handed pitcher Matt Montgomery in the 22nd round in 1997.

Twitter: @_fabio_25