Steven Mateo, First Baseman
HT : 6'2
WT : 188 lb.
DOB : August 19, 1992, Santiago, Dominican Republic
Throws : Right
Bats : Right
School : N/A
Acquired : International Free Agent 2010
Stock : Neutral
Cool Notes : Scouts compare him to Efren Navarro / Buddies with Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar
Steven Mateo was a standout once he came stateside this past season. This first baseman is about as unorthodox as can be for his position, but this doesn't hold us from believing he has a strong future moving forward in the Angels system. Scouts have compared him to the beloved Angels player, Efren Navarro.
Mateo is very patient, with a solid eye, which helps him to see a large amount of pitches per at bat. This helps draw walks... and also causes high strikeout rates.
Mateo does make good contact on the ball with a swift swing, squaring up balls, but he has a small amount of power in his swing. He has some slap in his swing, finishing slightly forward in his finish, which may be something he'll need to improve upon to move forward.
Mateo moves well for a first baseman, having adequate range. He receives the ball with ease, and never gets lazy on the ball when it comes to him. What Mateo was noted in the "needs department" was his progression towards the ball when moving forward, and reading the ball off the bat.
Speed is something Mateo has flashed, and he is above average for a first baseman. However, he won't win any sprint contest. This doesn't stop him from grinding however, and giving 100% from the time the ball leaves his bat to the time he's at the bag.
Mateo broke into the Angels farm system on the international level in 2010, and in 33 games, posted a .229/.297/.276 slash as an 18-year-old. Mateo hit safely in seven of his final eight games of the season, reaching base in all. Mateo came up as a clutch bat, batting .312 with a .777 OPS in the seventh inning or later of games.
Mateo shined in his second year of professional baseball, reaching base in 25 of the 30 games he appeared in. He finished with a .271/.396/.376 slash for the season, with four multi-hit games. Mateo drew 16 walks in 101 plate appearances.
Mateo struggled in 2012, batting just .169 over the season. However, he did draw 19 walks in 93 plate appearances, which meant one walk per 4.89 plate appearances.
Mateo returned to his masterful work in his final Dominican season in 2013. He finished with a .279/.429/.406 slash, picking up hits in 46 of the 66 games he appeared in (a career high in games). Mateo had 13 multi-hit games, also reaching base three times in 13 separate games. Mateo drew a walk in 80% of the games he played in, and brought home 39 runs with his bat. Mateo bat .377 with a 1.027 OPS in the final two innings of games, with 13 runs batted in and nine runs scored.
Mateo began his first stateside season strong, going 8-for-his first 11 at bats. He then went hitless for six games, and then began his best season to date. Mateo hit safely in 22 of his final 33 games, reaching base in 26 of those. He finished the season with a .306/.394/.420 slash, collecting 12 multi-hit games.
From the fourth to seventh innings of games, Mateo hit .405 with a .467 on base percentage, and 1.032 OPS, with 16 runs batted in. While leading off innings, Mateo had a .419/486/516 slash. Situationally, Mateo had slashes of .353/.476/.647 with runners on with two outs, and .346/.443/.538 with runners in scoring position.
Mateo has shown he can play ball at the Rookie Ball level. This makes us believe a return in 2015 might not be his calling card, but instead, make the leap into Class-A where he can face tougher competition.
Mateo's ability to get on base, and place the ball in the field when necessary is where he will excel in the minor league levels, and potentially get him a bench job in the Majors someday. He has not ETA, but if we had to take a guess, we'd say 2019.
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Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for InsideTheHalos.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.