HOUSTON -- The music was pumping inside the Matthews household in suburban Houston, which may have surprised the neighbors considering it was a Sunday night. The joyful voices in the background and dancing on the floor set a scene straight out of Mardi Gras, which is no surprise when you learn Brice Matthews' parents are both from New Orleans.
"It's jumping in here," Matthews said shortly after the Astros selected the University of Nebraska shortstop with the No. 28 overall pick -- the final selection of the first round of the 2023 MLB Draft. "We're having a good time. That's what we all do, is have a good time and cherish the moments in life because they don't happen too often. We're having fun."
The Astros are jumping for joy, too, after landing a local player who has an enticing package of power and athleticism and has a chance to be an impact bat. Astros scouting director Kris Gross said Matthews has the range and arm strength to stay at shortstop. The Astros were familiar with him on the summer circuit last year and when he had a strong junior season at Nebraska, the interest grew.
"Postseason, we brought him into Minute Maid Park and had a day with him and his family here and he did a workout in the cage down below," Gross said. "Very impressed with the kid, the family. A lot lined up since he was at our [Urban Youth] Academy. We had a lot of comfort pulling that magnet off the board."
Matthews, a former star high-school quarterback at Atascocita High School in suburban Houston, is a 6-foot, 190-pound right-handed bat who blossomed into a serious prospect in his junior year at Nebraska, slashing .359/.481/.723, with 67 RBIs and 61 runs scored to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors. He became the first player in Nebraska history to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in a season.
"It's a surreal feeling," Matthews said of being drafted by his hometown team. "Kind of hard to describe in words, kind of something you always dream of as a kid. For it to actually happen, is pretty crazy."
Matthews is a product of the Astros Urban Youth Academy, where he played from 9 years old until he finished high school. He said he wasn't an Astros fan when he was younger, but when he "started coming up through the Academy and started going to a lot more Astros games, I became a fan."
The love for the Astros grew when general manager Dana Brown visited with him at last month's MLB scouting combine in Phoenix.
"It was pretty cool to see a GM in front of your face and talking to him and him wanting to get to know you better as a person and a player," Matthews said. "That spoke volumes to me."
After hitting .266 with 12 home runs in 289 at-bats in his first two seasons at Nebraska, Matthews grew into some power and developed as a hitter. He has a quick right-handed swing, and the ball jumps off his bat with some of the best exit velocities of the Draft.
"It's crazy to see the jumps I've made," he said. "I always thought I had the capability of doing what I did. It's just a matter of putting all the pieces together. I definitely wouldn't be here without my support system, my friends and family. They've been the backbone for me and speaking courage into me and helping me take the stress off myself and not making it more than what it should be."
Astros take strike-thrower Tredwell in second round
With the No. 61 overall pick in the second round, the Astros selected UCLA right-hander Alonzo Tredwell, a 6-foot-8 strike-thrower who posted a 2.38 ERA with 113 strikeouts and 18 walks in 92 1/3 career innings for the Bruins. He was a closer in '22 and moved to the rotation this year.
Tredwell was an exciting junior at Mater Dei High School in California in 2020 when he needed Tommy John surgery in January, forcing him out of action for that season and the summer showcase circuit. Area scout Tim Costic followed him in the spring at UCLA this year and Gross saw his final start for the Bruins on April 22.
"He's got some frontline potential," Gross said. "His fastball is 90-95 [mph], huge extension down the slope. He's got four pitches [fastball, curveball, slider, changeup], he throws a ton of strikes. We thought he really has a high ceiling if he can put it all together. We're excited to get that one in the second round."