Thunder Manager Bobby Mitchell received a phone call in the middle of his postgame media press conference on Monday night from Yankees Vice President of Player Development, Gary Denbo. At that point Mitchell was informed that he would be receiving prospect Jorge Mateo as part of a slew of roster moves throughout the organization as a result of a hamstring injury suffered by Starlin Castro.
On Tuesday night, Mateo showed off all of the skills that made him a top-30 prospect in the game as recently as last spring. The 22-year old speedster batted leadoff and played shortstop for Trenton in his Double-A debut and went 2-for-5 with two infield singles to extend his overall hitting streak to nine games, dating back to his time in Tampa.“I am just very thankful right now,” said Mateo through translator Wes Wilson. “I feel like my approach is very solid and I just try to use my speed to put the ball on the ground and get out there and run a little bit.”
Mitchell added, “It was his first game and he is going to add a lot to our team, for sure. Speed kills and we know it. He is dynamic and I look forward to seeing more of him.”
Mateo, who is currently rated as the number four prospect in the organization by both Baseball America and MLB.com, has struggled immensely for the better part of the last calendar year with the Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League.After batting .337 and .270 in April and May last season, respectively, Mateo finished his 2016 campaign hitting just .222 over the final three months of the season. Questions surrounding his attitude swirled as the organization suspended him and pulled him from an appearance in the MLB Future’s Game.
In 69 games with Tampa this season, Mateo had slashed just .240/.288/.400 with more strikeouts (79) than hits (66). Still, the promotion of Tyler Wade to the big leagues has afforded the 22-year old speedster a clean slate to get his career back on track.
“It’s been a great day, thank God,” said Mateo through translator Lino Diaz. “I am very excited about another accomplishment, just to get here. That is not where I am going, all the way (to the majors), but it’s a great day. I was able to get here and now there are some others things that I have to do.”While Mateo has had a difficult time reaching base, he has used his extraordinary speed tool to wreak havoc when he has gotten on. In 2017 alone, the Dominican native has swiped 28 of 31 bases; he has stolen 210 in 392 career games.
“I love having him here, and having his speed on the team, and what he adds,” said Mitchell. “He is going to help us a lot. It is good for us, and good for him.”
Mateo added, “I’m very excited to run, I love to run. That is part of my game and that is not going to stop. I love doing that and I am very excited to have the opportunity to do it at this level.”
The Yankees signed Mateo as a shortstop and he has spent the majority of his minor league career at that position. The all-star caliber play from Didi Gregorius at the big league level coupled with the development of Wade and the acquisition of Gleyber Torres last summer has caused the organization to try and maximize his value at various positions.“I feel very happy that I am doing that,” admitted Mateo. “Now I have a lot of possibilities. I feel like if I can play those positions, if there is an opportunity, it’s not just the one position but an opportunity to help at different positions.”
Mitchell says that Mateo is slated to go on a position rotation that will play him five games at shortstop, two games at second base, and one game in centerfield.
“Obviously, I enjoy playing shortstop the most,” said Mateo. “But, ultimately that is not up to me and wherever they think I should be playing works for me.”