The New York Yankees suspended their top prospect Jorge Mateo for a violation of team policy.
In a surprising move, the New York Yankees have suspended their top prospect Jorge Mateo (second overall according to MLB.com) for a violation of team policy. According to one report it was “nothing illegal” (NY Daily News). The team saw fit to send a message though, by keeping him out of a big event.
This will prevent Mateo from participating in the All-Star Futures game held during All-Star festivities next week. The lone Yankee representative at the Futures game will now be their top catching prospect Gary Sanchez, who could be in the spotlight soon as the team is reportedly shopping starting catcher Brian McCann before the trade deadline according to some reports.
While Mateo is still in High-A ball and was not a top prospect when he signed at the age of 16 out of the Domincan Republic, he vaulted to the top of the Yankees prospect rankings with his phenomenal basestealing ability in 2015. He lead all of minor league baseball in 2015 with 82 steals in 99 attempts over 117 games. His pace has slowed in the base theft department in High-A this season swiping 26 out of 38 bases. His .266/.323/.396 batting line is not spectacular but the raw tools are certainly present. He has logged nine doubles, and five homers to go along with eight triples, which shows is what kind of speed he has to take advantage of balls that might be doubles for other players without his ability to turn on the jets.
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Mateo stands an even six feet tall, weighing 180 pounds. The Dominican shortstop just turned 21 on June 23. While he started his career with a low rating as a defender, he has improved, according to MLB.com and is now above average throwing from shortstop. He has not been limited to that position, logging 16 starts at second base this season, the first time in his four year professional career that he has played somewhere else besides shortstop.
The Yankees thought enough of Mateo to bring him to major league Spring Training this season. When you steal so many bases, it tends to turn some heads. Top prospects in organizations are often guys in the lower minors, but usually they are guys with top ratings right off the bat, whereas Mateo has gotten where he is in the rankings by his flat out outstanding performance last year. As befits top prospects, he will get plenty of time to adjust to each level of the minors as they hope he can ascend to help the team at the big league level.
Since Mateo is still only 21 years old, and the reason for suspension was not for illegal activity, Yankee fans will hope that Mateo learns his lesson to become a better professional and this is the worst thing he will do on his way to the major leagues.