This is the second article in a series covering three high profile shortstops working their way through the Sally. The first piece covered Ozhaino (Ozzie) Albies of the Braves. The third and final article will cover Javier Guerra (the exciting Red Sox farm hand). Today is all about Yankee prospect Jorge Mateo.
Mateo is from the Dominican Republic. He signed with the Yanks in 2012 for $250,000 as a 17 year old. In 2013 he got into sixty-four games in the Dominican Summer League posting a solid .287/.378/.450 adding seven homers and forty-nine steals. In 2014 the hype train started to roll in as he got off to a good start in the Gulf Coast League batting .276/.354/.397 and flashing top of the line speed. Unfortunately his 2014 season was limited to 15 games due to a broken finger. He is currently hitting .264/.321/.368 for Low-A Charleston with 53 steals already in 63 attempts.
Mateo is listed at 6 feet tall, 188 lbs. He's wiry strong and well put together. At the dish, he utilizes a partially open stance, and a minimal leg kick. The bat speed is there but his swing is on the long side and he seems to have some difficulty picking up spin. He could benefit from a better two strike approach. I've seen him twice for a total of nine at bats, and other than an inside fastball that he roped into the left field corner for a double, he's struggled. In his other eight AB's, he had five strikeouts, two pop outs and a ground out and spent a lot of time out on his front foot.
He's raw at the dish but he just turned 20 years old a week ago, and he lost nearly a full season of development in 2014. With some adjustments I could see him being a 50 hitter.
Power wise, the ball jumps off of his bat. He just needs to barrel the ball more, and I think he will, he's an athletic kid. I could see 30 doubles, 15 triples, and 15 home runs. potential 45 power.
Unfortunately I haven't gotten a great look at his speed to this point. Even when he hit that double he had second easily so he wasn't going full speed. By all accounts he has top of the scale speed, definitely his carrying tool. If he stays at his current pace he might steal 100 bags this season. I do wonder though with a better two strike approach if he would be on pace for 140 steals. 80 speed
Defensively he's aided by his tremendous speed to get to balls many other shortstops can't get to. Currently a little on the raw side, not as fluid as he will be. Plenty of arm for the position, quick release. Potential 55 glove, 55 Arm.
Mateo is certainly an exciting prospect, but he's raw both offensively and defensively. Reps will smooth out the defense but some adjustments are needed to reach offensive ceiling. He's got the skills to remain at shortstop, plus top of the scale speed. He doesn't project as a leadoff hitter though.