Top New York Yankees prospect Jorge Mateo has found his edge again following a promotion to Double-A Trenton from High-A Tampa.
Jorge Mateo, once regarded as the No. 1 prospect in the New York Yankees farm system, should have been in Double-A Trenton a long time ago. Sure, it took a domino effect stemming from Starlin Castro’s injury to make it happen, but the 22-year-old is proving that his ceiling is very much growing.
Entering 2016, the Dominican ranked 26th on Baseball America’s Top-100 Prospects list. Every scout seemed to love his toolset — especially his speed (stole 82 bases in 2015) — but his attempted encore was so disappointing that Mateo’s stock plummeted.
Mateo started the season roasting the opposition at the plate in High-A Tampa. Through his first 27 games, the middle infielder slashed .374/.429/.607 with an OPS of 1.036 and 12 extra-base hits. Then, the highly touted prospect hit .213 for the rest of the season including a strikeout rate of 23.3 percent, a two-week suspension for breaking a team rule that forced him out of the All-Star Futures Game and a massive drop in pre-season prospect rankings from 2016 to 2017.
Baseball America dropped him from 26 to 85 and MLB Pipeline dropped him from 30 to 47. Aside from the suspension, Mateo simply didn’t showcase his elite speed, show any sign of defensive development and was a dud at the plate.
Many scouts have said this had a lot to do with the fact that his head wasn’t in the right place in Tampa. Mateo knew he was destined for better and in his first eight games as a member of the Trenton Thunder, he’s proving that to be true.
In Mateo’s first taste of Double-A ball, the kid has gone 15-for-31 (.484) with an on-base percentage of .579 and 12 RBI’s after being promoted on June 27. His best day, so far, came on July 2 against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, where Mateo went 2-for-5 with a grand slam, five RBIs and seven total bases.
The forgotten man in the Yankees‘ system also posted video-game-like numbers in his first week — 14-for-27 (.519 average), 24 total bases, 12 RBIs, .618 OBP, .889 SLG, and 1.507 OPS — en route to earning a spot on MLBPipeline.com‘s Prospect Team of the Week. All this after hitting just .240 in High-A ball prior to his call-up.
“I think he’s excited to be here and to finally be able to move forward and out of Tampa,” Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell said via MiLB.com. “I think it was time for him to be challenged and to move on .”
This promotion for Mateo, despite still being under the likes of Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier in the organization’s prospect rankings, is nonetheless proving that, despite some noise and misconceptions over value, he’s a gifted young ball player with a ceiling of a ton of stolen bases and close to 20 homers per season.
It may have taken a promotion to light the fire under the kid again, but it has been lit. And who knows? Maybe this will be the time that Mateo points to as the time he made the necessary mental adjustments one needs to succeed in the game of baseball.