Scouting Yankees Prospect #5: Jorge Mateo

The New York Yankees signed shortstop Jorge Mateo out of the Dominican Republic for a reported $250,000 in January of 2012. He has proven in short order at the lower minor league levels to be one of the more dynamic prospects on both sides of the ball for the Yankees and he gives them one of the highest ceilings around.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jorge Mateo
Position: Shortstop
DOB: June 23, 1995
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Batting and Power. What makes Mateo quite different from most young prospects is his explosive plus bat speed. It not only allows him to hit any fastball velocity but it also affords him the opportunity to sit back and wait on secondary pitches better than most too, and it's that kind of special bat velocity that gives him the tools to be a high-average hitter someday. He also has a good idea of the strike zone too for somebody with so little experience, showing advanced pitch recognition and moderate patience at the plate. Like most youngsters his swing can get a little long at times when he tries to do too much at the plate but he does show the requisite abilities to be a good hitter for average once he relaxes more and allows the game to come to him. Despite not being a huge physical specimen, there is already big league average home run power at minimum long-term and the plus bat speed and strong wrists could tick his power up to the above average realm if things break right for him.

Base Running and Speed. Mateo is an absolute thoroughbred on the base paths; his speed is truly elite. Grading out as an 80-runner in the tradition 20-80 scout's scale, nobody can match his speed. He is truly second to none running station to station and taking the extra bases. While he projects to be among the league leaders in stolen bases each year, however, there will be some base running gaffes from time to time simply due his ultra-aggressive running style. Still, managers will live with the occasional mistake because 90 percent of the time he will be a true impact runner. Approaching 100 stolen bases in a particular season is not out of the question given his special speed.

Defense. Mateo is already widely known for his great speed but it's his innate plus athleticism that often times plays second fiddle to his speed. He is extremely agile, nimble, and athletic, possessing the kind of combination that would allow him to excel at nearly any professional sport. He shows soft hands and he has an absolute cannon for an arm. Throw in an extremely coachable personality and tireless work ethic, the physical tools are not just plus, so is the makeup, and that should allow him to be a consistent plus defender down the road as he gains more experience. He has Gold Glove potential long-term.

Projection. With plus-plus speed, plus athleticism, above average or better hitting ability, and average or better power potential, Mateo has special physical tools in spades. What brings his game together, however, and what makes him so unique in comparison to other potential five-tool prospects in the game is his high level of intelligence and overall great makeup. He taught himself English at a very young age and that in itself is a rare feat in the game these days, and it's emblematic if his overall special work ethic; he simply wants to excel at everything! There are legitimate comparisons to a younger right-handed hitting version of Jose Reyes given the power-speed combination, and like Reyes it may take a little bit of time to rein in the aggressiveness to become a more polished hitter and player overall, but it should happen in due time should he stay healthy.

ETA. 2017. Mateo is not nearly as raw as some folks may tend to believe; there is a very good chance he may only need two or three minor league seasons before he's ready for the big leagues. He simply needs to stay healthy.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories