For those of us that follow minor league players, we all have a few favorites. We believe, and sometimes predict, that they will have a huge impact on the game when they reach the majors. Every year I have at least one, and Jorge Mateo is that guy for me.
I originally wrote about him during spring training (read THE YANKEES INFIELD IS WIDE OPEN), citing him as an outside shot at filling in at shortstop. His stats were pretty good and the scouting reports on him were stellar. That article had one critic that said that this kid was not getting anywhere near the majors. He might be right. Still, his improvement this year even exceeded my expectations.
As of now, his batting average (.307) is twenty points over his highest batting average in any season at any level. His OPS (.881) is almost 150 points higher than last year combined. His fielding average (combined .962) is over 30 points higher than last, and that includes his 45+ errorless innings at second base. Shortstop being his primary position, the Yankees have encouraged him to work at second base to increase his repertoire. I would say the plan is working, so far.
Last year he was promoted from the single-A Charleston River Dogs to the class A+ Tampa Yankees. This year his numbers are on the rise, which is the surest sign that a player has outgrown his environment. We should expect another promotion soon. If we do see him in the majors, he would likely be a September call-up. Even that would put him ahead of schedule.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
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