Shortstop Jorge Mateo forgot the one Cardinal Rule that binds all minor-leaguers. As a result, he also broke a few others.
“Play Where You Are” and things will take care of themselves.
There is no right to what Mateo did, even though he has marvelous potential, even though he is the consensus Yankees top prospect. These two weeks in which he is serving his suspension give him plenty of time to think if he wants to play this game to his potential.
Rumors floated even before the suspension. Mateo, presently with Class-A Advanced Tampa, was upset about not being promoted to Double-A Trenton when others, including fellow infielder Miguel Andujar were. He made that clear, breaking the Cardinal Rule as it was.
Then, according to several sources, he had the audacity, this just-turned 21-year-old June 23, to play Farm Director and decide a player in Trenton needed to be released in his behalf. That was all the brass needed to hear. “Dude, you are going to sit and cool your heels for a bit.”
Here is the situation. Andujar was promoted because the Double-A Thunder, which is having an exceptional season – 54-33 heading into a weekend series at Richmond – had a need at third base, Andujar’s specialty. Given Mateo is close to Andujar, the pair may have hoped they would be promoted together. Such was not the case.
Let’s talk about what is going on with Trenton. First, shortstop Tyler Wade is having an outstanding season, while infielders Dante Bichette Jr. and Cito Culver have played their best baseball over the last 40 games. There really was no reason to rush Mateo. Thunder skipper Bobby Mitchell, who, at this point is the Eastern League Manager of the Year, called Culver “the leader of our infield.”
Second, let’s explore the psychological side of this. Given his reaction, Mateo would fit the Thunder clubhouse like grease to a new white tuxedo right now. Trenton is winning – and contending – because of excellent pitching and the “all for one, one for all” cohesion Mitchell has excellently built in his clubhouse.
Mateo, on the other hand – and one must remember he’s a 21-year-old kid, showed the opposite, a “me-first” attitude that would rub the entire Trenton clubhouse the wrong way. So he is the Yankees’ top prospect, but, as he found out, entitlement only goes to far. He will learn from this suspension, as catcher Gary Sanchez did from his in 2014, and put it behind him.
Right now, Mateo might be physically ready to play at Double-A. He demonstrated he is far from that psychologically. The feeling is the suspension, during which he will get a chance to think, will go a long way toward re-setting his attitude.
That’s how it works, even though some Internet pundits stated Mateo was right and the Yankees were wrong. It shows how little many of these digital commentators actually know about the whole system. What the Digital Age has wrought.
Also, there is no reason to over-react to this. Mateo was wrong – twice – pure and simple. He is an immense talent the Yankees are not looking to trade. He will be promoted both when he is ready and when he fits what Trenton is doing.