Prospect Profile: Jorge Mateo

Jorge_MateoIt’s been a while since I did a prospect profile, so I thought I’d start this year with Jorge Mateo, the Charleston RiverDogs’ shortstop. Now that he is playing his first full season of professional baseball, the young middle infielder is garnering a lot of attention, so let’s look at why.

Jorge Luis Mateo
Born: June 23, 1995
Height: 6’0
Weight: 188
Bats: Right
Throws: RightPosition: Shortstop

Mateo was signed by the Yankees for $250,000 in January of 2012. He started his career in the Dominican Leagues, appearing in 14 games in 2012 and then 64 in 2013. It has been evident from day one that speed is Mateo’s game, and he managed to swipe 49 bags in 2013, a number he looks sure to easily eclipse this season.

In 2014, Mateo made his first appearance stateside, hitting .276/.354/.397 over sixteen games in the Gulf Coast League, though he missed a good chunk of time due to a wrist injury.…

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The Farm Report: Opening Week!

For the 2015 season, I will be doing the Farm Report as a weekly post reviewing how the Yankees’ affiliates fared in the previous week. It may take some time to get a good feel for the best way to do this, so please bear with me. Feel free to let me know what is working and what isn’t and I’ll try to adjust it as best I can.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders:
The RailRiders are off to a 2-2 start to 2015, however, their opening day game gave them a lot to live up to this year. Scranton beat Syracuse 8-3, but the story was Ramon Flores. The young outfielder started the day’s scoring with a homer in the first inning, and finished the day as the third Scranton player to ever hit for the cycle. He ended up going 4-4 with three runs scored, two RBIs and a walk. As a team, Scranton had 16 hits, assisted by Kyle Roller, who went 3-5, and Robert Refsnyder, who went 2-4 with a RBI, a walk and a run scored.…

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2015 Minor League Preview

Though there is still snow that hasn’t quite melted away outside my window, like many of you, nothing says spring more to me than the start of baseball season. The Yankees got their first game of 2015 under their belt yesterday, and by the end of the week the Minor Leagues will have begun as well. With that in mind, here is a quick reminder of how the minor league affiliates ended last season, along with some of the prospects to watch.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders:
Last Year: For the second season in a row, the RailRiders ended with a lackluster 68-76 record. Despite this disappointing record, there were some positive signs, not the least of which was their offense. The RailRiders had the best team batting average in the International League and they owned team slash line of .273/.337/.413. Pitching was less successful for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, with their numbers putting them squarely in the middle of the pack.

Prospects to Watch: There are a few familiar faces in Scranton this season, including some intriguing prospects who should get a chance in the Bronx at some point.…

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Quick Hit: Yanks Re-Sign Slade Heathcott

Missed this yesterday, but via Joel Sherman, the Yankees re-signed outfielder Slade Heathcott to a MiL deal yesterday.  The deal includes an invitation to Spring Training.  You’ll remember that Heathcott was non-tendered in November to clear roster spots for upcoming moves.  Apparently there wasn’t much interest in Heathcott among the rest of MLB, as he sat out there for over a month before being re-signed.

Once a top 5 prospect in the organization, Heathcott all but fell off the prospect map after playing in only 9 games last season before being shut down with another knee surgery.  He’s battled knee and shoulder problems since his pro career began, and has played in just 309 total games since being drafted in 2009.

Despite all the health problems and the removal from the 40-man roster, Heathcott is relatively young at 24 years old and could open the season in the Triple-A outfield thanks to the glut of other prospects expected to play in Double-A.  …

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MiL Notes: Campos Re-Signed And Another Util Infield Option

Under the wave of coverage of the Chase Headley re-signing yesterday, the Yankees made a couple more small MiL moves.  Here they are, courtesy of Matt Eddy:

Jose Campos, non-tendered off the 40-man roster 2 weeks ago, was re-signed to a new MiL deal.  He missed all of the 2014 season following TJS and has pitched 111.2 total innings in 3 years since being acquired, but he may have a small sliver of prospect hope left at age 22.

– The catching depth has been thinned out a bit this offseason.  The Yanks have addressed that by signing 25-year-old catcher Juan Graterol.  He’s spent his entire career up to this point in the KC organization and is a .270/.322/.335 hitter in 9 MiL seasons.  Expect him to slot in somewhere at the top of the organization to provide backup insurance.

– Another infielder was signed to boost Triple-A depth as well, this time in the form of 27-year-old Cole Figueroa.  …

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Report: Yanks Sign Util IF Nick Noonan To A MiL Deal

And I said the Yankees wouldn’t be making any big moves today.  Silly me.  While the rest of MLB was wheeling and dealing with actual players of significance this morning, the Yanks went out and added themselves another potential piece of the infield puzzle.  If you aren’t familiar with Noonan’s body of work, here are the essentials:

  • Career .219/.261/.238 hitter in 111 Major League at-bats, all of which came in 2013 for the Giants.
  • Career .262/.316/.368 hitter in 3,300+ MiL at-bats over 8 seasons in the SF system.
  • Plays mostly second base and shortstop; has played a little bit of third.

Looks like Jonathan Galvez just got himself some serious competition to make it to the final roster cut in spring camp.  Who needs starting pitching when you have this many flexible infielders at your disposal?  …

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Early Offseason Big Picture: Optimism vs Pessimism re 2015 – a Group Chat

Scott:The Worst is Yet to Come,” happy sunshine guy Dan Szymborski reports in predicting late-stage-empire decay of the post-90s/2000s Yankees. Let’s discuss: Agree or disagree?

         Quick initial take: Agree with Dan that (a) declining oldsters are preventing improvement at many positions, (b) imminent help from the farm is modest, and (c) the free agent pool has gotten shallower now that teams extend young talent before free agency. On the other hand, (a) they’re already an above-average team, (b) some free-agent and rookie talent infusions are likely for 2015-16, and (c) they won’t lose literally a whole rotation (5 starters) to injury every year (like in 2014), right? Can the impending improvements exceed the impending declines enough to net the several extra wins they need to make the playoffs?

William: My take on it is this: Predicting gloom and doom sells papers and creates pageviews and makes off season people read ZiPS. Teams like the Orioles in 2014 and yes, the Royals and Giants show that a lot has to go right for a team to get the golden apple and a lot can go wrong too.…

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Wilson-Cervelli: Quick Takes + a Worry about Lost Depth

Wow, is my timing awesome: on Tuesday, I write a hosanna to Francisco Cervelli’s bright 2015 future of increased Yankee playing time, but apparently Brian Cashman disagrees or (gasp) doesn’t read me, because he traded Cervelli the next day for LHP Justin Wilson. I feel like Karl Rove on election night 2012 screaming about how Romney is still winning right as his fellow Fox Newsers gave up the ghost. So, a few quick takes on the trade:

(1) Don’t Cry for Me, Venezuela. I praised Cervelli as an above-par catcher who could free up Brian McCann both to rest and to spell Teixeria — but I can’t fault Cashman for trading him. In retrospect, I may have lowballed Cervelli’s injury history, especially his 2014 migraines, which don’t seem major, except that migraines are a known problem for folks who have had concussions. I still think the Yankees were a better team with than without him, but he’s not exactly indispensable or reliable.…

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Thoughts On The AZFL Selections

I missed this when it first came out yesterday, but the Yankees announced their MiL representatives for the 2014 Arizona Fall League season and it’s quite the group.  Via Josh Norris, the players selected were Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Eric Jagielo, Tyler Austin, Caleb Cotham, Branden Pinder, and Alex Smith.  The pitching reps aren’t all that sexy, but that’s a top crop of hitting prospects.  Some random thoughts on the picks and what it means for each player.

– As far as Bird, Austin, and Cotham are concerned, this is a way to get back some of the at-bats and innings they lost due to injury this season.  Austin battled some wrist problems again and has hit .275/.336/.419 in 437 PA for Trenton.  Bird missed a lot of time early in the season as he worked back from his latest back issue.  He’s swung the bat well (.272/.374/.479) in 414 PA split 75/25 between High-A and Double-A.  …

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