Sonny Gray‘s departure has been rough, but prospects like Jorge Mateo should give plenty of A’s fans hope for the future.
Billy Beane has gambled plenty of times over the course of his colorful career with the Oakland Athletics. More recently, Beane demonstrated his willingness to take a risk while trying to execute a massive rebuilding project.
The A’s parted ways with Sonny Gray back in July and did so for a trio of talented prospects. Two of those prospects, however, are currently injured. Neither James Kaprielian or Dustin Fowler will make an appearance this year for Oakland.
The timing of the A’s youth movement, as Beane has pointed out many times, made the Gray deal possible. Acquiring Kaprielian, Fowler and Jorge Mateo would not have been as easy if Kaprielian and Fowler were healthy.
Mateo, 22, was ranked as New York’s top-rated prospect in 2016. The arrival of Gleyber Torres, however, created a bit of a log-jam in the Yankees’ system. As a result, the A’s were able to pry Mateo away from New York.
Each of the three prospects figure to play a significant role moving forward. Kaprielian projects as a solid No. 3 starter with some additional upside. Fowler, if healthy, should have no issues assuming the starting centerfielder role next year.
An Interesting Option
Mateo, meanwhile, could help the A’s in a number of ways. The Yankees were utilizing Mateo in the outfield, but the A’s are focused on keeping him at short stop.
The A’s will have plenty of options throughout their infield next year. As noted before, Jed Lowrie may end up returning next season thanks to a team-friendly option for 2018.
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Marcus Semien, the team’s current short stop, is relatively young and inexpensive. The A’s may want to get even younger, however, so Mateo’s debut should not be too far off. If he can prove to be productive in the A’s farm system, a call-up at some point next year would not be surprising.
Prior to being traded, Mateo was slashing .300/.381/.525 with 4 HR and 26 RBI with Double-A Trenton. Since coming to the A’s, Mateo is slashing .262/.323/.440 with a home run and 10 RBI in Double-A Midland.
Speed is Mateo’s greatest strength and led the minor leagues in steals back in 2015 with 82. Through 19 games with Midland, Mateo has collected 11 stolen bases. Mateo has 50 stolen bases overall this year while splitting time in Single-A and Double-A.
Defensively, Mateo needs to work on a few things before he makes a debut with Oakland. He has committed 37 errors this year at short. Last year he committed 26 errors at short and 48 in 2015.
Offensively, Mateo does not possess a ton of power. He should have enough raw power, though, to provide the occasional home run. The focus, however, should remain on Mateo’s speed and ability on the base paths.
Running In A New Direction
The A’s should be focused on not only getting younger, but getting quicker as well.
The A’s must live up to their name and feature athletic players with a talent on the base paths. Mateo provides plenty of speed and can cause plenty of trouble if gets on base.
Oakland will need to fix his deficiencies on defense, but the A’s should be excited to have Mateo in their system. Upon his arrival, MLB.com ranked Mateo as the A’s No. 4 prospect. He sits behind Franklin Barreto, A.J. Puk and Fowler.
Raw power, blazing speed and an above average arm make Mateo an interesting prospect worth watching. We could see Mateo become a part of an infield group that includes Matt Chapman, Franklin Barreto and Matt Olson.