When our other prospect writers submit scouting reports, I will provide background and industry consensus tool grades. There are two reasons for this: 1) giving context to account for the writer seeing a bad outing (never threw his changeup, coming back from injury, etc.) and 2) not making him go on about the player’s background or speculate about what may have happened in other outings.
The writer still grades the tools based on what they saw, I’m just letting the reader know what that writer would’ve seen in many of the other games from this season, particularly with young players that may be fatigued late in the season. The grades are presented as present/future on the 20-80 scouting scale and I’m in the midst of a series going into more depth explaining these grades. -Kiley
Note: This is much longer than most of my background reports, but Mateo is a prospect with lots of buzz that plays in the most-watched farm system in the game that I just happened to scout for the last few weeks in instructs. I was going to write a solo report on him, given his stature and relative mystery, but our newest writer saw Mateo during the GCL, so I thought this was a good opportunity to have two separate accounts of this rising prospect from different points in his breakout season. –Kiley
Jorge Mateo, SS, New York Yankees (Rookie-Level GCL)
The Dominican shortstop signed for $250,000 in January 2012 and jumped on the prospect scene this season with a breakout stateside debut in the GCL. Mateo has grown an inch and added 25-30 pounds since signing and 2014 wasn’t even his first strong performance: the 6’0/188 shortstop hit 7 homers and stole 49 bases in 299 plate appearances in the Dominican Summer League in 2013. Scouts were telling me about Mateo early in the GCL season with his 80 speed attracting a lot of attention, but his breakout GCL season was ended early by a broken finger. I didn’t see Mateo until instructional league in Tampa, which ended last week.
Mateo runs a 4.0 in the first clip of the above video; a top-of-the-scale 80 time on the 20-80 scouting scale. He exceeded my expectations by showing true 80 speed and enough arm, range and hands to have a real chance to stick at shortstop with a surprising amount of pop in batting practice. Still just 19, Mateo was more than just a live body with some bat speed, showing surprising feel at the plate by working counts and battling against pitchers years older than him.
Given his age and low level of competition so far, there’s still some risk and things for him to work on. He’s good defensively but isn’t a the super-smooth Gold Glove type, so he’ll need to continue to hone his instinct and footwork, but the tools are there to be a solid defender. Mateo loads his hands a little too high and his foot is often off the ground at contact (both fixable issues), but he has the bat control and feel for his swing to make a healthy cut work. He should probably shorten his swing a bit from his current Alfonso Soriano-type cut, but there’s a lot of talent here, so you don’t want to interfere with it too much.
Hit: 20/50+, Game Power: 20/45, Raw Power: 45/45+, Speed: 80/80, Field: 45/55, Throw: 55/55, FV: 50
Upside: .285/.350/.440, solid-average defense and plus-plus base-running value. Visit the shortstop leaderboard to see how his upside compares to current big league shortstops.
Note: For 50+ FV players, I also project their upside, which I explain here, but it’s basically a 75 percentile projection, while the projected tool grades are a 50 percentile projection. Keep in mind that all of these projections are still very volatile for a 19-year-old that’s only played in rookie ball, but I wouldn’t bother making these projections if Mateo wasn’t that good. –Kiley
Jorge Mateo is a very intriguing prospect with impressive tools across the board. Though he did not see much game action this season, Mateo drew praise from scouts for his potential to be an impact player at the highest level. I scouted him earlier this year in the Rookie-level GCL.
Shows ability to square up balls consistently, barreling pitches thrown in the zone and hitting them where they are pitched. Good sense of the strike zone, but will occasionally chase off-speed stuff when down in the count. Short stroke enables him to catch up to higher velocity and he also demonstrates good bat speed. Has advanced approach, limiting the size of his leg lift with two strikes and getting his foot down earlier. Can turn on fastballs inside and adjust to breaking stuff away.
As frame develops, should grow into more power. Is more of a gap to gap hitter. Swing does not have much loft, but can get under pitches up in the zone. Does not sell out for power, maintaining an approach that will enable him to utilize his speed. Will likely add weight/strength as he progresses through the minor league system, which should lead to added pop. Raw power might be a solid 50 but will be limited in games by his swing and approach.
Truly a burner, did not have a stop watch while charting game, but have heard he has occasionally been sub-4 from home to first. Gets great jumps on stolen base attempts, and is generally very aggressive on the base paths, always gunning for the extra bag. Showcases speed in the field as well. Downgrade in speed reflects anticipated growth. He should fill out to the point that he’ll lose a tenth of a second on his home to first times.
Field: 45/55, Arm: 60/60
Should be able to stay at shortstop. Shows good range, helped by his elite speed. Has very quick feet and good footwork. Hands are soft and shows very smooth actions in the field. Adept at going deep in the hole, as well as charging soft grounders on the grass. Shows above average arm strength deep in the hole, also able to get rid of ball quickly in tough situations without comprising much zip on the ball. Has clean arm action and fluid overall motion.
Mateo was one of the best prospects in the GCL this year, despite missing some time due to injuries. His projectable frame, elite speed, and natural hitting ability suggest that he could become an above average shortstop at the major league level. How he develops physically will help to determine his ultimate ceiling, but he could hit .270 – .280 with 10-15 Hr’s, a good OBP and above average defense.