Welfrin Mateo isn't a standout name on the Pulaski team but he's performing like one.

PULASKI, VA -- The most obvious aspect of the Pulaski Yankees’ roster is the youth, but it seems that no one decided to remind Welfrin Mateo of that. At 20 years old, Mateo is, ironically, one of the oldest players on the Yankees’ roster as no one on the team has more than two years of professional baseball experience but he's also one of the more rounded players on the team as well.

Mateo seems to act differently from some of the other players on the team. He is comfortable with where he is and hasn’t let it weigh down on him.

“I’ve been working on my mentality and the mindset that I would bring to the game,” Mateo explained through a translator.

This mentality has helped Mateo become very comfortable playing for Pulaski so far. “I feel great playing here, thank God,” he said.

As with many other players, Mateo’s experience hasn’t just been limited to Pulaski. He got to spend time at Extended Spring Training earlier this season where he ended making some good impressions.

“He’s looked outstanding, he’s done well and he’s played well,” manager Tony Franklin said. “He’s hit well and he is definitely one of those types of guys that the rest of the players can look to as a leader.”

As for Mateo himself, he seems to be in a good place. “Mentally and physically, I feel like I have improved a lot and that I’ve just ready to go,” he stated.

However, like everyone else playing for Pulaski, Mateo is still trying to find him and prove that he can become an everyday player for the Yankees down the road.

“I believe that this is his opportunity to show that he can be an everyday player,” Franklin added. “Every player on this team gets an opportunity like that and he is trying to make the most out of it.”

And based on his play so far, that is exactly what Mateo is doing.

“He is a high energy guy, which helps him and helps us,” Franklin stated. “As we say in baseball, he’s a guy who can play in traffic, someone who doesn’t get overwhelmed by the fast pace of the game.”

It’s understandable for a young player to get overwhelmed at first, but as stated, Mateo seems to know what he is doing, whether it be hitting well for average or playing multiple defensive positions.

“I’ve learned to focus every day and game and to not give away at-bats,” he said.

“He plays everywhere, plays multiple positions,” Franklin explained. “I’ve been playing him at different positions helps him and I’ve even played at first base for an inning. It looks like he can handle playing the infield very well. He just plays with a lot of energy.”

Many young players have trouble making certain adjustments when they become a professional player. For some, it might be the harder pitching; for others, it’s the overall speed of the game. Welfrin Mateo had a much different adjustment to make.

Like his teammate Leonardo Molina, Mateo had never experienced a night game before, which is understandable given his previous baseball experience. Mateo previously played in the Gulf Coast League where games usually started around noon or one p.m.  However, his manager doesn’t really think that this has had a great effect on him.

“I don’t think that it is as big an adjustment as everybody thinks it is,” said Franklin. “It’s just another phase of baseball playing under the lights, the lights are good and your vision is pretty good while under the lights.”

Understandably, Mateo agrees. “Emotionally, it’s great,” he said. “It’s fun to play, it’s just a different feeling playing under the lights.”

The sign of a good player is one who can learn to adapt and change as he gains more experience. Mateo has shown that with his change in mentality, eagerness to play under the lights, and ability to play multiple positions.

But where he might end up experiencing the most change is as a hitter. Including this season, his career slash is .293/.377/.423, which shows that he is good at making solid contact. But that has rarely led to balls leaving the park. He has just seven home runs in his two-year career and just one so far this season.

While this means that he’ll probably not end up hitting 30+ homers a season, he still has room to grow to add to that aspect of his hitting game.

“I think that power is usually the last thing to come to most young players,” Franklin explained. “I can’t tell you whether he is going to hit for power or not, but I certainly think he has got a chance to hit a few home runs.”

“If you’re looking for him to hit 25, 30, 40 home runs, I don’t think that is going to happen,” Franklin continued. “But I do think that he could hit anywhere from 5-15 home runs, but you don’t always need to hit home runs to be available to your team.”

At this point in his career, it seems that Welfrin Mateo is starting to show how well-rounded of a player he is. His journey to making the bigs will certainly be one to follow.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories