.276/.354/.397 11% BB% 26% K% .121 ISO .390 BABIP 11/12 SB% +3 DEF
Mateo ranked #4 on my Yankees top 100 list.
The Yankees signed Jorge Mateo out of the Dominican back in January of 2012 for a modest $250,000 signing bonus, and he hasn’t stopped hitting since. Although he only got into 14 games in 2012, the toolsy shortstop put on a real show in 2013, hitting an impressive .287/.378/.450 in the Dominican Summer League. Most exciting of all, he swiped 49 bases in 59 attempts — a testament to his 80-grade speed.
What he did in 2014:
The Yankees brought Mateo state-side following his impressive showing in the DSL, but a broken finger limited him to just 15 games last year. Mateo hit fairly well in the brief time he was healthy, but ultimately didn’t get into enough games for his stats to mean much. More importantly than the numbers, though, those who had the chance to watch him — most of whom never got to see him in the Dominican — really liked what they saw.
What Kiley says:
He exceeded my expectations by showing true 80 speed and enough arm, range and hands to have a real chance to stick at shortstop with a surprising amount of pop in batting practice. Still just 19, Mateo was more than just a live body with some bat speed, showing surprising feel at the plate by working counts and battling against pitchers years older than him.
Given his age and low level of competition so far, there’s still some risk and things for him to work on. He’s good defensively but isn’t a the super-smooth Gold Glove type, so he’ll need to continue to hone his instinct and footwork, but the tools are there to be a solid defender. Mateo loads his hands a little too high and his foot is often off the ground at contact (both fixable issues), but he has the bat control and feel for his swing to make a healthy cut work. He should probably shorten his swing a bit from his current Alfonso Soriano-type cut, but there’s a lot of talent here, so you don’t want to interfere with it too much.
Mateo likely heads to Low-A next year in what will be one of the most anticipated full-season debuts in baseball due to his buzz, upside and lack of experience stateside.
Although Mateo sat out most of last season, the Yankees will likely push him to Low-A Charleston purely on the merits of his physical tools. They’ve shown a willingness to challenge their low-level prospects of late, and at 20, Mateo wouldn’t be overly young for an assignment to full-season ball. However, it also wouldn’t shock me if he started 2015 in extended spring training before joining the Staten Island Yankees this summer. Wherever he plays, Mateo will be one to watch this year. Power-speed threats like this just don’t come around very often, and it’ll be interesting to see how well he can parlay his loud tools into on-field performance. Mateo still has loads of development left to do, but upside is there, and 2015 will help us figure out how long we’ll have to wait to see it.