Jorge Mateo Has Broken Out

Jorge Mateo is batting .329/.384/.550 with 14 stolen bases, 22% strikeout rate and 7.5% walk rate in his first 38 games for the Tampa Yankees. I think it is safe to begin to call this a breakout season.

Some would argue that Mateo broke out last year. He hit .278/.345/.392 with a baseball-leading 82 stolen bases, 20% strikeout rate and 8.5% walk rate between Low-A and High-A. However, Mateo was arguably a very different type of hitter last season. 2015 Jorge Mateo was a Billy Hamilton-type: low-contact, high speed, not a lot of power. 2016 Jorge Mateo is currently second in the Florida State League in stolen bases and third in OPS.

Score one for the scouts. The scouting report on Mateo had always been some version of: "He's really fast, but he's stronger and more athletic than your typical slap-hitting burner. More wide-receiver than sprinter" Then, they would add in the obligatory Jose Reyes comparison.

Of course, Jose Reyes only hit .286/.340/.422 as a career minor leaguer. He developed his power in the major leagues. I don't know what a more appropriate comparison is, but Mateo's breakout is above and beyond where a player like Reyes performed in the minors.

Put all of this together with his above-average projected defense at shortstop, and the Yankees have a star player in the making. There is no doubt in my mind that Mateo is the #1 prospect in the Yankee system at the moment. I think you'll see him rated surprisingly high in midseason top-100 lists. If you told me that Keith Law was going to rate him a top-15 prospect mid-season, I wouldn't be shocked.

Mateo will get a promotion to Trenton soon. Trenton is a brutal power hitting environment for right-handed hitters. We'll see how Mateo does. I'd expect some struggle, but if he succeeds, start getting excited about a big league Mateo in 2017.