BBDP 2015 Breakout Candidate: Jorge Mateo

Jorge_MateoRavel Santana was one of the most gifted athletes to ever play in the Yankees’ farm system. Unfortunately he suffered a devastating ankle injury and never fully recovered. He was drafted in the rule 5 minor league component and was released one year later.

While Santana’s story may serve as a cautionary tale of getting too excited about young prospects at low levels, it was a freak injury that is relatively uncommon amongst baseball players. While I continue to lament on what could have been with Santana, the Yankees now have a similarly talented player in the lower levels who will likely start the season in Charleston next year.

His name is Jorge Mateo, and he’s a shortstop with amazing tools.

The basics:

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 188-pounds

Position: SS

Throws: Right

Bats: Right

Age: 19

Contract: Signed for just $250,000 in 2012

So far in his career, Jorge Mateo has been an absolute beast statistically. In the year he signed, he played just 14 games as a 17 year old in the DSL, but held his own in his first action against real competition. He hit .255/.382/.382/.764 with a homerun, two doubles, and a triple. He stole four bases.

In his first full DSL season in 2013 he officially made a name for himself. He hit .287/.378/.450/.828 with seven homeruns, nine doubles, six triples, and 49 SB. All of this was in 64 games. He performed similarly well as a 19 year old in the GCL, where he played 15 games and hit .276/.354/.397/.750 with 11 SB, five doubles and a triple. His season was cut short by a minor wrist injury, but he was back at instructs and looked better than ever. While many people would argue that Jorge Mateo has already broken out, his potential is so high that he has not come close to hitting the huge prospect status that he is capable of.

While the performance has been great, what the Yankees really have in Mateo is a guy with five tools. He has speed, power, defense, arm, and a hit tool. He also is a patient hitter. All of his tools play up, and scouts were able to confirm that in the GCL. Despite not playing for most of the season, he was still named to the top prospects in the GCL.

Speed is the biggest tool Mateo possesses. He is lightning quick and has already developed the instincts to steal bases at a high rate. He also uses his quickness in the field to get to balls that other shortstops cannot get to.

In the field, Mateo is smooth and quick. He has excellent range, and the arm to make the throws to first on the balls he gets to. He is a sure bet to stick at shortstop long term, which makes him even more valuable.

In the batter’s box, Mateo displays superior patience. He lays off the bad pitches and swings at the good ones. He knows how to draw a walk, yet he knows when to take a hack at a good pitch to hit. For that reason, his contact tool plays up. He barrels the baseball well, and once the ball is in play his speed takes over, making him a difficult guy to throw out.

Aside from all of the other tools, Mateo can even hit for power. He showed the power in the DSL when he hit seven homeruns in 64 games. With time, the power should come along and we could be talking about a guy who can have an OPS more than .800 while stealing 50 bases.

Jorge Mateo will almost undoubtedly start 2015 in Charleston, where he will man shortstop for the RiverDogs. He will likely stay there all year, but it is possible the Yankees could move him up to High-A if he plays well enough. The only thing holding Mateo back will be himself, as the Yankees are unlikely to hold off on a promotion to the best shortstop in their system, regardless of who is ahead of him.

When you consider Mateo’s ceiling, you have to think about a guy like Jose Reyes in his prime. He’s a guy who will steal bases, but can hit the ball over the fence every now and then too. He plays primo defense to go along with his offensive prowess. He has legitimate all-star potential, and potentially superstar potential if things work out well for him.

The floor is a utility infielder who can sub in late in the game for defense and pinch running duties if needed. Ultimately this is a huge floor when you’re talking about a guy who’s highest level is the GCL, so don’t take that lightly.

Make no mistake about it, Jorge Mateo is a potential star in the minor leagues. He is as likely as any Yankees prospect to end up on the top 100 prospects list after 2015. I would also be shocked if he isn’t a top five prospect in the system by the end of next year. He is truly a gifted athlete who has everything. He is a magnificent player to have in the system, and could prove to be a prospect star in the coming years.

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17 Responses to BBDP 2015 Breakout Candidate: Jorge Mateo

  1. rpimpsner2014 says:

    Mateo is not going to Charleston.

    • gcorcoran says:

      What makes you so sure? The Yankees sent Avelino there last year in similar circumstances.

      • rpimpsner2014 says:

        Avelino played 17games with GCL 1, 17 games with GCL 2 and 17 games with SI in 2013. He is also slated to return to Charleston due to his injury last season.

        Mateo has only 15 games total experience in the GCL, he did not split time with any other team. There is also a huge logjam of shortstops in the lower levels that is going to prevent him from skipping two levels. Right now Mateo is penciled in to head to Pulaski and that is what I was told from Tampa. If he does will in EST he will likely go to Staten Island.

      • gcorcoran says:

        I'm sticking to my guns here. Even if Charleston starts the season with a different shortstop, I think Mateo will be there at some point this season prior to Staten Island starting up. I can't envision why the Yankees wouldn't put him there. He's already going to be 20 this year, and he's too talented not to give him experience in a full season league

        • rpimpsner2014 says:

          You will not be seeing players skip both Staten Island and Pulaski. It will be one or the other. Avelino will be the everyday shortstop in Charleston.

          • gcorcoran says:

            If that's the case I think the Yankees are out of their minds. There isn't a single player in this system who should hold Mateo back. Avelino is great, but he's not nearly as talented as Mateo and shouldn't hold him back just because he needs to repeat Charleston.

          • rpimpsner2014 says:

            Mateo is not at that point in his development. Again he needs more than 15 games in rookie ball to skip two levels. BTW a broken wrist is not exactly a minor injury.

          • gcorcoran says:

            Where are you getting this info from? Everything I've read has said it's a sprained wrist, and some of it has come directly from coaches mouths.

          • rpimpsner2014 says:

            The Yankees themselves

          • gcorcoran says:

            Also, a broken wrist is actually a very minor injury in the grand scheme of things provided that it was not in the wrong place (i.e. didn't involve the joints), and it wasn't an actual through and through break. It's 4-6 weeks recovery with little to no long term effects. I broke my wrist once and was back and stronger than ever the following season. Secondly Mateo was at instructs and apparently looked better than he even did last season. The wrist injury was significant in that it caused him to miss the rest of the season but it will not limit him physically in the future at all, as he has already apparently had a complete recovery from it.

          • gcorcoran says:

            It's interesting that you have heard this perspective from the Yankees, because I have heard the opposite. I have heard that they plan on pushing him level wise because of his level of talent and maturity. I guess we will see when the season starts.

          • gcorcoran says:

            Will be glad to hear his response. I would be surprised if you get a firm answer before Spring Training. There's a reason they don't announce the official rosters until right before the season starts.

          • rpimpsner2014 says:

            Usually the day of and that is still based on if their flights came in. Get a ton of players on media day that don't last the day in between.

  2. YankeezFan says:

    Just so i can put in my 2 cents and add some actual facts to this post… Mateo is ranked as #17 on the Yankees MLBpipeline, whereas Avelino isnt even ranked…. MY GUESS IS HE HAS ALREADY PASSED BY AVELINO …. Go figure.

  3. yankeemax says:

    I enjoyed the banter between RPimpsner of Pinstripes Prospect and GCorcoran of bronxbaseballdaily. Both of you are my favorite writers covering minor league players.

    Mateo is gifted but there is too much hype since he has not proven that he is a durable and quality player over a long enough period of time. I am keeping my fingers cross that he will become an elite prospect.

  4. gcorcoran says:

    The truth of the matter is none of us know who is going to be the starting SS for Charleston. These things can change very quickly. There can be injuries that effect it, and Spring Training performances have a huge effect. Wherever he ends up it does not change the fact that he is a major breakout candidate and could be a superstar prospect as soon as next season.

  5. Nostradamus says:

    Gcorcoran with the win

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