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2016 Yankees Roster Report Card: Jorge Mateo

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The Yankees’ top prospect had a solid year of development in High-A, despite some struggles.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Grade: B

2016 Statistics: 113 G, .254/.306/.379 (99 wRC+), 36 S, 8 HR

2016 Level/Roster Status: High-A/Non-40

It is no secret that Jorge Mateo is a high-risk prospect. A speed-first prospect is not an archetype you want as your organization’s top prospect, but luckily for the Yankees, they now have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball. While in years past Mateo’s performance would seem like a disappointment, something that makes fans believe that a young stud is yet another year behind, this year means that fans, and the organization, can be patient as their youth pipeline swells.

The main debate among scouts in regards to Mateo is, of course, the hit tool. In April, Baseball Prospectus gave him a 60 future grade on the 20-80 scale. In May, 2080Baseball gave him a 50 future grade. And MLB.com gave him a 55 future grade as recently as the trade deadline.

Until he actually proves it, that grade is still something we may see in the future. In 2016, he hit at just a 99 wRC+ clip in 113 games, which isn’t that encouraging when you consider that the jump from High-A to Double-A, the one he will likely have to make next year, is probably the most difficult leap.

He can still steal bases at a prolific rate—he stole 36 this year—but consider the drop-off from 2015. He stole 82 last year between Low-A and High-A, which shows you how much a drop in on-base percentage can hurt his value as a base runner. If you don’t get on base, being an 80-grade runner doesn’t mean much.

Not to mention his makeup concerns, which were put under the spotlight in July. Mateo was suspended by the organization over an off-the-field action, and it may have also been tied to a tweet in which he complained about not receiving a minor league promotion. This might be overblown, of course. His manager stated that it was a mistake and “a part of growing up, and even new stars like Gary Sanchez had their own troubles. Remember, these players are basically college-aged—it happens.

With all of this in mind, Mateo had a solid year of player development. He had some disciplinary issues, but I’m glad to see that handled internally before he moves further up the chain. He hasn’t developed consistency on either side of the ball, but the potential is there. If he continues down this path, we could be looking at an everyday shortstop who can hit at a league-average rate with 80-grade speed and 60-grade defense. For an organization with a newfound glut of talent, Mateo will hopefully be knocking on the door very soon.