Tje Baltimore Orioles made a sneaky move Thursday afternoon, as they claimed speedster Jorge Mateo off waivers from the San Diego Padres.
The former top-30 prospect is dubbed the fastest man in baseball, and it’s easy to see why with his average speed at 30.8 feet per second. This ability will allow the 26-year-old to close the bottom of the lineup or even be a leadoff hitter, as well. But his benefit will come as a pinch runner and defender.
Coming up through the Yankees minor league system, Mateo was traded to the Athletics in the move that brought Sonny Gray to New York back in July of 2017. In the off-season of 2020, Mateo was then traded to the Padres in a surprise move to pick up speed.
Mateo slots in as a second basemen, but he can also play shortstop and all outfield positions. His speed and arm are plus and are where his game is the strongest. He will definitely slot in as a difference maker late in games.
Mateo has ability shown by his 2019 season, when he batted .289 with 19 home runs and 74 RBI, along with 14 triples. He led the Pacific League with 29 doubles and 24 stolen bases, while playing in 119 games over that time.
The knock against Mateo right now is that his bat is a free-swinging one. He tends to pull the ball and hit line drives, but he hasn’t transpired his game into a strong offensive one, where his speed would benefit him more. With proper coaching, this is something that can be fixed and can take this former top-30 prospect and make him a dangerous player all around.
In 57 games this season, Mateo is batting just .207/.250/.322 with two home runs and six RBI. However, he does have five stolen bags.
The Orioles are taking a flyer on him to see if they can find help at second base, this noted by the DFA of Pat Valiaka. We will see if the Orioles can turn this speedster into the star everyone has been waiting for, but for now, he is one of the most exciting additions this season for the Birds.
Welcome to Birdland, Jorge!
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