LAKELAND, Fla. – Jorge Mateo is headed back to the minors, but Joe Girardi expects big things from the enigmatic 21-year-old prospect this season.
“I talked to him this morning before we sent him down,” Girardi said of Mateo, who was optioned to High-A Tampa and will continue his spring in minor league camp. “I told him wherever you go, I think it’s your job to go dominate, because you’re a special talent.
“And in a way it’s a real blessing to have the talent that he has, but it’s also a curse in a sense because we’re always going to be watching every move you make. You have to pay attention to detail and play the game the right way because someone is always going to be watching.”
Mateo burst onto the scene in 2015, stealing 82 bases and hitting 11 triples while emerging as one of the best prospects in the organization. But he stumbled in 2016 and was suspended by the Yankees during the season. At High-A Tampa, he posted an OPS of just .685.
“I thought he was very mature in camp,” Girardi said. “He had a great camp on the field, in the clubhouse, off the field. I think sometimes we can make a lot of certain things, but at 21 years old, I was doing some foolish things. Just not everybody knew about it, right? I think he’s grown up. I don’t think he could have done much more, really.”
Mateo’s primary position is shortstop, but the Yankees plan to continue to give him some exposure to center field. “We want him to play every day,” Girardi said. “I still really like him in the infield. I think his range is going to be really good.
“I thought he played a very good shortstop and a very good second base for us. When you have the speed he does, the versatility, as I told him, when you have the talent level that you have, you start thinking about what’s the quickest way to get him here. A spot could open up one day in a different spot than what you’re used to playing and if you can play other places it might get you here quicker.”
Mateo hit just .136 in the spring, but Girardi liked his at-bats. He did make several hard-hit outs.
Alex Rodriguez is slated for his second stint at camp this weekend.
“Just continue to do what he’s doing,” Joe Girardi said. “Talk to our players. Give them knowledge.”
Austin Romine (hand) is feeling much better. “I don’t know if he’ll be a player for us in West Palm (over the weekend) quite yet. We’re going to shoot for that. Might be a little soon, but we’ll see where he’s at,” Joe Girardi said of his backup catcher.”
“Right now, he’s still on the trip. If he comes in tomorrow and he’s not where we think he should be, there’s no chance of him playing in West Palm, I’m not going to drag him there.”
Joe Girardi has liked what he’s seen from lefty prospect Jordan Montgomery, who the organization envisions as a starter. “He’s got really good downward angle,” Girardi said. “He uses his fastball well on both sides of the plate. His breaking ball plays. I’m curious about him, really curious. He’s a guy that can give you distance. I think the more exposure he gets here now could help us later down the road.”
Published at Fri, 17 Mar 2017 17:33:17 +0000