BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #4: Jorge Mateo
Although MLB.com ranked Aaron Judge a few spots ahead of Jorge Mateo on their top-100 prospect list, we have it the other way around. The 21-year old middle infielder has eye popping raw ability. He did slip just a bit on the prospects top-100 list from 2016 to now, but be ready for a monster campaign where he ends up significantly higher heading into the 2018 season.
As I mentioned in the introduction, Mateo slipped a bit on everyone’s top prospect list and that’s because of his subpar offensive 2016 season. After hitting .274 or better from 2013-’15, Mateo dipped down to .254 last season. Not only did his average dip, so did his on-base percentage while his strikeouts spiked to 108 in 113 games.
The strikeouts can be problematic seeing how his best attribute is his speed. We’ve seen guys with next level speed struggle with the inability to put the ball in play like Billy Hamilton and not have much success at the major league level. Seeing how Mateo is just 21-years young, he has the time on his side to work on cutting down on the strikeouts. I don’t think we can mention how fast he truly is enough, but his 82 stolen bases in 2015 does it justice.
Mateo has a lot of work to do as I alluded to already, but he’s poised for a big campaign in 2017. Mateo is likely going to spend most of his time at Double-A but could play his way into some time at Triple-A later in the year.
Being on the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule-5 Draft, we should also see Mateo as a September call-up, barring any injuries. We saw how speedsters like Rico Noel helped the Bombers with his late-inning speed on the base paths in crucial games stealing five bases in his short time with the team, so expect to see more of that with Mateo this season. While he may not see many at-bats or starts, he should be on the bases late in games when hitters who lack speed on on base.
Mateo still has a lot of growing to do as second and third basemen as well. The Yankees haven’t bagged the idea of him playing shortstop going forward, but with the young phenom Gleyber Torres also manning the same position, it’ll be hard for him to ever see the field when the two players are ready to make the leap to the big leagues. With his speed, the Yankees will also look to pin him in center field to see if he is able to run balls down as a utility player.
MLB comparison: Jose Reyes
We’re not sure how good Mateo will turn out, but if he ever reaches peak Jose Reyes, the Yankees will be in really good shape. Mateo and Reyes have similar skillsets even though Reyes is more gifted putting the ball in play and was blessed with a cannon for an arm.
Written by: James GrandeFollow @The_Real_Grande