The New York Yankees signed shortstop/second baseman Jorge Mateo on January 28, 2012, as an international free agent to a $250,000 signing bonus. He is ranked as the fourth best prospect on Pinstriped Prospects 2017 Top Prospects list.
The Yankees sent Mateo to the Dominican Summer League Yankees 2 squad to start his career. Due to injury, he played in only 14 games producing a slash of .255/.382/.382. Of his 14 hits, two were doubles; one was a triple along with a home run. He also stole four bases in five attempts.
The Yankees sent Mateo to their Yankees 1 team in the Dominican Summer League for his second season. Mateo appeared in 64 games putting up a .287/.378/.450 slash line. He smacked 74 hits, nine of which were doubles, six were triples while hitting seven home runs. He also was a major threat on the base paths swiping 49 bases in 59 attempts and scoring 50 runs.
Mateo was promoted to the Gulf Coast League Yankees 1 for 2014. A broken finger limited Mateo’s playing time to just 15 games. In 58 at-bats, Mateo collected 16 hits, five of where were doubles along with one triple resulting in a slash line of .276/.354/.397. He stole 11 bases in 12 attempts while scoring 14 runs.
The Yankees promoted Mateo the Low Class-A Charleston RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League. In 96 games, Mateo broke out with a .268/.338/.37 slash line. He ended up with 98 hits with Charleston, including 18 doubles, eight triples, and two home runs. He stole 71 bases in 86 attempts and scored 51 runs.
That hot start earned him a call-up to the Tampa Yankees of the High Class-A Florida State League on August 5. In 21 games, Mateo produced a .321/.374/.452 slash line. He also kept up his torrid base stealing by swiping 11 bases in 13 attempts.
Mateo had a rocky season in Tampa, which included a two-week suspension for, as described by the Yankees, a violation of team rules that resulted in him missing the All-Star Futures game. He got off to a hot start and hit .374 in his first 27 games, but then his performance tailed off after the suspension. He played in 113 games total and produced a .254/.306/.379 slash line. He stole 36 bags in 51 attempts while scoring 65 runs.
The first thing that jumps out when watching Mateo play is his blinding speed. He’s one of the fastest players in all of baseball. He uses that speed on the base paths when stealing bases and has parlayed that speed into inside the park home runs at Charleston and Tampa. At shortstop and second base, Mateo is a solid defender with a strong throwing arm. He still needs to work on his footwork, but the raw ability is certainly there. At the plate, Mateo does have some pop in his bat and is a solid contact hitter. One concern, though, is that his strikeouts were up in 2016. He struck out 108 times in 507 plate appearances. His on-base percentage also fell off to .306 in 2016. The suspension and the controversy that surrounded it certainly had an effect on his performance. 2017 will be a key season for Jorge Mateo. He needs to show he can bounce back from a down 2016 year and show he learned from his suspension. Maturity is certainly a concern after the events of 2016.
2017 will be a key season for Jorge Mateo. He needs to show he can bounce back from a down 2016 year and show he has learned from his suspension. Maturity is certainly a concern after the events of 2016. With that said, Mateo can look to Gary Sanchez as a model as to how to handle a suspension. Sanchez earned a suspension in 2014 while with Double-A Trenton and bounced back to become a star player with the Yankees. Mateo is a prime candidate to start 2017 in Trenton. He will see a lot of time at second base and play alongside top shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres as he did in Tampa last year after Torres came over in the Aroldis Chapman trade with the Chicago Cubs.