Matthew Dallas received the starting nod for Team USA in the gold-medal game against Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Softball Confederation U18 Baseball World Cup last summer in Sarasota, Florida. The left-handed pitcher pitched well, allowing one unearned run while striking out three batters in 3 1/3 innings in Team USA’s 5-1 victory.
It was a notable accomplishment for Dallas, who flew under the radar before last summer. It also helped boost his prospect status. Now, Dallas enters his senior season at Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) High School as a must-watch player. He is one of the top pitchers in the prep class and a potential early-round pick in July’s MLB draft.
“It’s crazy,” Dallas said. “You dream of it as a little kid. But then it hits you so fast. I was no crazy guy junior year. But then last summer, it all went from me being a nobody to me being a prospect. I’m grateful. God has blessed me with something that not a lot of people have been blessed with. I can’t take advantage of my talent and what God has given me. I still have to work for it.”
Dallas intrigues scouts due to his size, arsenal and projection. Those attributes allow scouts to project Dallas as a starting pitcher long-term.
Dallas is a 6-foot-5, 190-pound lefty who throws a four-seam fastball, two-seamer, curveball, changeup and cutter from an over-the-top arm slot and repeatable low-effort delivery.
His fastball sits in the low-90s and should continue to increase in velocity as he matures physically. He attacks hitters in all quadrants of the strike zone with his fastball. This season, he hopes to consistently challenge hitters with his fastball on the inside part of the plate.
Dallas mixes his pitches well and has confidence in all of his secondary pitches. His above-average curveball is his best off-speed pitch, consistently generating swings and misses. His changeup flashes potential and is a low-80s offering with tumbling action.
“My ability to throw my off-speed pitches for strikes is my biggest strength,” Dallas said. “I’m not going to go up there and walk a bunch of guys. I’m going to stay in the zone and get swings and misses. The command of my off-speed pitches is what separates me.”
Dallas has recently added a cutter to his arsenal. His goal is for it to serve as a hard-breaking pitch that can either generate swings and misses or induce weak contact.
“Thinking about it, I wanted something that was fast but could go the opposite direction of my other pitches,” Dallas said. “I think it’ll be a big part that improves my games.”
Dallas is in an ideal situation. Besides being a top draft prospect, he is a Tennessee Volunteers commit. He committed to the Volunteers over interest from Alabama and Ole Miss.
His relationship with Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello and pitching coach Frank Anderson greatly influenced his decision. Anderson is one of the top pitching coaches in college baseball and has a proven track record developing talent for the professional ranks.
Tennessee has turned out a lot of quality pitchers in recent years. Garrett Crochet was the 11th overall pick in the 2020 draft, and Blade Tidwell was a second-round pick last year. Chase Dollander is in the mix to go first overall this season, and Chase Burns has the chance to go first overall next year.
Dallas has the potential to be the next great Tennessee pitcher, if he attends college instead of pursing a pro career straight out of high school.
“I have heard great things about Vitello and Anderson,” Dallas said. “Going to school, you need to go somewhere where they are going to get you better. That was the spot for me with coach Anderson and what he is able to do. It was a no-doubter to got here.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for eight years. He has interviewed 433 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.