The minor league season is 18-20 games deep for most teams, and in its infancy, not much can be made from prospects’ statistics at this point. Scouting reports are our only indication of a prospects’ rise or fall in fantasy value. One player receiving some glowing reports early on is New York Yankees’ SS prospect, Jorge Mateo. I ranked Mateo 6th in the Yankees system this offseason, and ended up very optimistic on him putting him 104th in my overall prospect rankings (Jason had Mateo 136th, so we were both high on him). After reading two early reports on Mateo, I wish I would’ve been more aggressive with both of my rankings.
In my capsule for Mateo on the Yankees prospect list, I noted:
"A potential 5-tool talent, every conversation on Mateo starts with his ridiculous 80-grade speed. And unlike the case of most young burners, Mateo appears to have the potential to develop the baseball acumen that lets his speed play to it's highest level."
Absolutely nothing has changed from this profile, and we can now add elite-level makeup. Both reports I’ve read so far on Mateo cite his willingness to seek coaching after BP, his laser focus during the game on defense, and eagerness to learn the game. This coming from a kid who is in the middle of making a gargantuan leap from the complex league to full-season A ball. Mateo has handled the promotion like a true professional, and leaves me optimistic for bright things in his future.
Mateo is appearing on many dynasty owners’ radars after losing almost all of 2014 to a broken finger. He’s already logged more games in 2015 as he did in 2014, and while the stats aren’t jaw-dropping, they are quite impressive when taken in context; he’s a 19 year old in Low-A, lost an entire season of development, but he’s hitting .246/.315/.308 with 15 SBs in 18 games. Mateo continues to show excellent patience at the plate, and finds ways to let his 80-grade speed play in-game. This guy could be a fantasy catalyst in the Dee Gordon/Billy Hamilton mold, with the added benefit of SS eligibility and fewer questions about his hit tool.
There are still some defensive concerns with Jorge Mateo, but he has the athleticism and drive to make it work. Mateo’s speed will find a spot on the diamond, but I don’t think this is another Billy Hamilton situation where a move off SS is just a matter of time. The development for Mateo will be slow - he’s at least 3 years away from reaching the major leagues, but the Yankees lack of organizational SS depth bodes well for Mateo’s future.
If you’re in a dynasty league that allows you to add players mid-season, and Jorge Mateo is sitting in free agency, pick him up immediately. He’s going to shoot up fantasy rankings lists this season, so nab him before it is too late.