On July 25 the baseball world was shocked to hear the Yankees had traded their closer, the elite reliever Aroldis Chapman, to the Chicago Cubs. The person who may have been most shocked was Jorge Mateo.
At 21 years old, shortstop Mateo is highly regarded as one of the best prospects in baseball and prior to that trade he was the number one prospect in the Yankees organization. He had a great spring training and really impressed the team with his bat and speed. Then he started out the season in Class A Tampa and tore the league to shreds. He batted .337 in the first month of the season. In May he regressed slightly, but not enough to raise concern. He still posted a solid .270 average that month.
His efforts got Mateo invited to the Futures Game and it looked like everything was going his way, but somewhere along the line he got lost in the glamour of being the number one prospect of the New York Yankees. Frustrated that he didn’t get a promotion from Class A ball to Double-A with his friend Miguel Andujar, he suggested to the Yankees front office that he be promoted and someone from the Double-A roster be demoted or released. The Yankees responded by hitting Mateo with a two-week suspension, causing him to miss the Futures Game. I believe that over late May and June Mateo was not taking Class A seriously and instead was holding a grudge that he hadn’t yet been promoted.
In June, Mateo batted just .194 and didn’t fare much better in July with a .206 average. It appeared that Mateo had lost his fire to work hard and develop as a player. He thought that he was above Class A and deserved better. Then, on July 25, the Yankees acquired Gleyber Torres along with others in the Aroldis Chapman trade. Torres was immediately ranked as the new number one prospect of the Yankees, and upon arrival to Class A Tampa Torres met his new teammate, Jorge Mateo. Not only was Mateo stripped of his title of being the number one prospect of the Yankees, he was moved to second base from shortstop to make room for Torres.
It appeared that the Torres trade lit a spark under Jorge Mateo and the fire came back to him. The competition with Torres brought out the best of his abilities, and if the Torres trade wasn’t enough, the trade of Andrew Miller for Clint Frazier and company moved Mateo down in the rankings to the third best prospect in the organization. There is a certain humility players have to maintain while playing the game of baseball and in an organization like the Yankees everyone is expendable and you can and will be replaced if you don’t get the job done. Maybe Mateo started to learn this lesson as the Yankees system filled with more young stars.
I believe that Gleyber Torres is the best thing that has happened to Jorge Mateo. The results suggest that the move brought back his fight and will to succeed. He is batting .328 since the trade and is once again competing and taking Class A seriously. He is tearing the league apart in an attempt to win back his place as the number one prospect. The result for the Yankees is that many say that this is the best middle infield combination in all of minor league baseball. These two definitely have a lot more to learn and many steps to take before they hit the majors, but Torres has undoubtedly helped Mateo become the player that everyone thinks he can be. It should be fun watching these guys progress and hopefully raise a world championship trophy together one day in New York.
Please subscribe for our email letter at the bottom of our web page! Also follow us on Twitter @diehard_nyy and on Facebook at Facebook.com/diehardnyy
Subscriptions help us grow and continue to bring you the latest in Yankee news! We are site composed of all die hard Yankees fans, reporting to die hard Yankees fans.
Edited by: Joey Santanello @joeysantanello