It'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. He had five doubles and a triple, stealing eleven bases and only getting caught once. Mateo is off to a strong start in Charleston, putting together a line of .300/.375/.380 over thirteen games. He has two doubles, a triple and eight RBIs, and leads professional baseball with fourteen stolen basses, getting caught three times.
Scouting Report: Mateo's offensive potential still widely depends on how he develops physically. He is still just nineteen and has plenty of room for his frame to fill out. He has shown some great natural hitting ability, he has a decent sense of the strike zone, along with a short stroke with some good bat speed. Mateo is likely to be more of a gap hitter, though his power should develop some over time. He had seven homers in 2013, so the potential is there, however, his approach at the plate favors his speed. His speed is truly his calling card. It has been reported that he can run from home to first in under four seconds. He is very aggressive on the bases and gets some great jumps when stealing.
With Jeter gone, we all know how much everyone wants to crown a clear successor to the Captain, as if All-Star shortstops just fall out of the sky. Obviously, this is not the case, particularly when you are looking for a player who can play the position with strong defense. Whether Mateo even makes the majors is hard to say, given how far away and young he is, but he is bound to come up in these kinds of conversations, and for good reason. He should be able to stick at shortstop, where he can show off his speed and range. Quick feet and solid footwork combine with an above average arm. Scouts worried about his weak arm strength, but he has been able to put those fears behind him.
Projection: Mateo is still very young and just starting his first full season of pro ball, so it is hard to say much with any certainty. Still, he is definitely a prospect to be excited about. The fact that the Yankees had him skip over another year of short-season ball is exciting, and if he keeps this going it would not be infeasible to see him in the majors by 2018.