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Jorge Mateo is all about setting goals and then doing his best to achieve them.

TAMPA, FL -- Despite being one of the youngest players in minor league baseball, Jorge Mateo continues making a name for himself this season with the Tampa Yankees this season. Much like his work ethic, Mateo is a very persistent player both on and off the field and insisted on doing his interview without the help of a translator to work on developing his English speaking skills.

Last season Mateo split time between two different A-ball teams and had a combined 449 at-bats, 66 runs, and an overall total of 125 hits throughout the season. He even finished the season with an impressive slugging percentage of .392 between Charleston and Tampa.

“Last year was great for me," Mateo said.  "I worked hard, got focused, and worked on building over time; pretty much the same things I am trying to work on right now."

Although Mateo learned a lot on the field both this season and last, one of his biggest areas of mental improvement he's focused on is how to be a better teammate.

Moving forward to the 2016 season, Mateo said that the biggest thing he is currently working on physically is building his body too. Being such a young player Mateo is constantly developing and in order to keep up with the demanding tasks as he climbs up in the minor leagues the biggest challenge is getting your body ready to keep up with the competition.

“I’ve been working a lot on my body, that was my main goal during the offseason and now that the season is going on" he said. "I lifted a lot of weights and I drank a lot of protein."

During Spring Training, Mateo, who has put on nearly ten pounds since last season, not only learned a lot about himself as a player but impressed a lot of important people too, including current Tampa manager Pat Osborn and hitting coach Tommy Slater.

“He learned a lot not only baseball-wise but how to act on and off the field,” Osborn said.

Mateo got to attend big league Spring Training this year too and both Mateo and his coaches believe the experience was extremely beneficial.

“Spring training went great because I learned a lot," Mateo said.  "I worked on my game and I also got the chance to work with some really talented players."

So far this season Mateo has gotten off to a solid start with the Tampa Yankees, hitting .326 in his first 22 games with 19 runs scored, 17 RBIs, and he's already matched last season's home run total [2] less than a month into the new season.

“He’s got power in his swing and he drives the ball to the biggest parts of the park… he’s definitely got pop in his bat,” Slater said.

Mateo has struck out 23 times so far this season and although that may be a little high for the 86 at-bats he’s had so far it is not something the Tampa coaching staff is too concerned with at this point. According to Osborn, at his age it’s more of an aggressive thing where sometimes he gets a little over anxious at the plate.  He’s had some really great games so far and some not so good ones but that’s just the way it goes in this sport and certainly at the A-ball level.

“He’s a very good player and he’s just going to keep on getting better because he’s so young,” Slater said.

Moving forward the biggest thing the Tampa coaching staff wants to see Mateo continue working on is reading the pitcher better. Reading the pitcher is a major key in all these young guys’ games according to Slater. Understanding how to read a pitcher is the biggest key in getting those base hits and even hitting home runs.

“That’s going to come with a little more experience," Osborn said. "He’s going to have to learn when he can take chances while he’s out there and really drive the ball."

If Mateo continues to work on perfecting his game further and improving those minor details he should be very successful by the end of the season according to Osborn. Some of these minor details include not only reading pitchers but knowing the right time to really lay all his power into a swing too.

“Whether he’s working on his defense or offense… he’s doing a really good job right now trying to stay in himself. He’s really good, he’s just trying to take what the pitcher gives him and not trying to do too much,” Slater said.

“By the end of this season this kid is going to be way ahead of where he is now,” Osborn concluded.


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