Just about everybody expected Richmond Hill High School senior Kevin Matthews to be selected in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft, the only question was when.
The Texas Rangers answered that question in short order Monday night, making the left-handed pitcher and University of Virginia signee their No. 1 draft pick and the 33rd player taken in the 2011 draft.
Calls to Matthews’ home and cell phone went unreturned Tuesday, but late Monday night he told MLB.com he is ready to sign with the Rangers.
“I want to get started as soon as I can, get used to the guys and the program,” Matthews told MLB.com. “The sooner I get started, the better.”
Matthews, who at 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds was considered by some to be too small to be a major-league pitcher, went 4-2 in 2011 and struck out 94 batters while walking only 14 in 41.7 innings. He had an earned-run average of 1.67.
Matthews, whose fastball regularly exceeded 90 mph, opened the season in February in front of dozens of scouts in Pembroke by tossing a perfect game against Bryan County High School.
He added a no-hit, 13-strikeout performance against Brunswick to his resume in March.
In his final win of the season April 2, Matthews allowed only three hits and one run in a six-inning outing against Liberty County.
Matthews is the second Coastal Empire player in recent memory to sign as the 33rd overall pick. In 2000, the Toronto Blue Jays drafted Long County High School ace Dustin McGowan with their first-round pick at No. 33. McGowan has battled arm problems and currently is rehabbing after surgery. He has a career record of 20-22 in the big leagues.
Jeff Whitten contributed to this report.