BBB Top Prospect Countdown #2: Jorge Mateo
Signed out of the Dominican Republic at the youthful age of 16 in January of 2012 for $225,000, shortstop Jorge Mateo has seen his value skyrocket since turning pro. The speedster who has been graded out by scouts to have a speed rating of 80 on the 20-80 scale has become one of the most dynamic prospects across baseball and is now being touted as a franchise shortstop once he makes it to the major leagues. Mateo, 20, has already become a household name amongst Yankee prospects in YankeeLand and his performance has earned him a non-roster spring training invite, where he has a chance to display his skills against major leaguers alike this spring.
|Photo Via MILB.com|
Mateo made his professional debut with Dominican Summer League Yankees at 17 years old. He played in 14 games before suffering a hairline fracture that would keep him out of action for quite a while. But Mateo returned to the DSL in 2013 where he hit .287/.378/.450 with seven homers, nine doubles and six triples. He also swiped 49 bags, all in just 64 games.
With his production in the DSL, Mateo made his United States debut at 19 years old with the Gulf Coast Yankees. Unfortunately, Mateo would play just 15 games before breaking his wrist causing him to miss the rest of the season. Still, Mateo played well hitting .276/.354/.397 with five doubles, one triple and 11 stolen bases.
In 2015, the Yankees looked to push Mateo starting him in single-A with the Charleston RiverDogs. At 20 years old, Mateo was 1.5 years younger than the average player in A-ball. In 96 games, Mateo flashed all of his tools except power hitting .268/.338/.378 with 18 doubles, eight triples and two dingers in 96 games. Amazingly, Mateo stole 71 bases in those games, being caught only 15 times. This eye-opening speed and solid hitting is what solidified him as an “untouchable” prospect in the Yankees farm system.
Mateo finished 2015 in high-A ball with the Tampa Yankees, where he was over 2.5 years younger than the average player at that level. His performance was even better than his performance with Charleston. In 21 games, Mateo recorded a slash line of .321/.374/.452 with five doubles and three triples. His aggressive base running continued as he stole 11 of 13 attempts safely. With Mateo’s stellar play as a professional so far, he is beginning to realize that his major league dreams are looking at turning into a reality.
“My goal has always been to play professionally,” Mateo said to Yankees on Demand. “But when you get on the field, that's where you really demonstrate who you really are as a player, and that is what I plan to do.”
Mateo should begin the season where he left off in 2015 with the Tampa Yankees. However, the Yankees should try to push him once again forcing his way to Trenton around the time when he turns 21 towards the end of June. His incredible speed – which has graded him as one of the fastest players in baseball – is a major reason for his intriguing value at shortstop. When you combine his lightning speed with his good eye at the plate and developing power, Mateo is also one of the best hitters in the Yankee farm system. Power and stength, for one, is something Mateo has focused on improving this offseason as he recently added to Yankees on Demand.
“My days in the offseason are tough,” Mateo said. “I wake up and go to the weight room because I know it's going to help me reach my goals. My goals for this year are to get stronger and to ultimately play in the big leagues.”
Mateo can also improve as a fielder, but there is little doubt that he won’t stick to shortstop at the big league level. When he finally reaches his potential, Mateo may become a fixture at shortstop for the Yankees.
“My defense has improved a lot. My mentality has changed and the support of everyone here has really helped me get better. I have been practicing the routine play so that I can be more consistent because I know that it will pay off,” Mateo said.
Mateo was dubbed as the Yankees top prospect on MLB.com (and the #30 prospect in all of baseball). The young shortstop is only getting better and he could force his way into the top 10 prospects in all of baseball by season’s end.
On most rankings, it is a coin flip between him and Aaron Judge for who is the top prospect in the organization. On one list, you’ll find Judge as the top prospect and on the other, you’ll find Mateo. Unfortunately, one of them had to come in second on our list but with Judge potentially graduating off the list in 2016, Mateo should be at the top of this list by the end of the season with another solid season in the minors. All in all, Jorge Mateo is the real deal and is someone who seemingly can’t get to the Bronx soon enough.
MLB Comparison: Jose Reyes
MLB Comparison: Jose Reyes
Article by: Chad Raines
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