Only one year ago, Jorge Mateo was the top overall prospect in the Yankees organization, according to Baseball America. The young Dominican Republic native was pegged as the next star shortstop in the Bronx, boasting a skill set similar to that of Jose Reyes.
Still considered a top prospect within the organization and the number eight overall shortstop prospect by MLB.com, Mateo began slipping down the rankings after a brief suspension for violating an unspecified team policy and some inconsistent play in 2016, which halted his impending promotion from high-A Tampa to double-A Trenton.
With current Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorius entering only his age 27 season and continuing to improve at an impressive pace, many believe the Yankees already had their shortstop of the future…
Then they traded for Gleyber Torres.
The 20-year-old Venezuelan shortstop was previously the top ranked prospect in the Cubs system. After dominating the Arizona Fall League and becoming the youngest MVP in league history, he has been named the top shortstop prospect and the third overall prospect in all of baseball for the 2017 season by MLB.com.
With the number one overall shortstop prospect now in the fold, and Didi showing no signs of giving up his starting job, add in Starlin Castro and the Yankees are looking at four middle infielders with only three infield positions to go around.
Based solely on the play of last season, Mateo seemed to potentially be the odd man out.
However, with too much talent to ignore, the Yankees have begun to explore the possibility of moving Mateo to center field — a move that seems to be a perfect fit considering his blazing speed. Mateo got his first taste of the outfield in the Instructional League a few months ago, and spoke to Bronx Pinstripes back in December about how he plans on having a rebound season in 2017.
Largely considered to be one of the fastest prospects in all of baseball, Mateo believes he can make a seamless transition into the outfield, and is embracing it with a positive attitude as well.
According to Brendan Kuty of NJ Advanced Media, Mateo believes he will see plenty of time in center field this spring. “I like it,” Mateo said, when asked about the transition from shortstop to the outfield. “It’s not too hard.”
Aside from possessing the speed necessary to patrol center field, Mateo also boasts a plus arm according to scouts.
While the potential move is still merely an experiment, a successful transition could see Mateo arrive in the Bronx earlier than expected.
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