Jorge Mateo: Defensive magician Baltimore needed

Jorge Mateo has been more than reliable for the 2022 Baltimore Orioles.

Without his lightning speed and magnificent defense, the Orioles would most likely struggle throughout the season, like they have the past four years.

The 27-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic never really had the most straight-forward career in Major League Baseball. But that never stopped him from being the player we love today.

Mateo’s career started January 28, 2012, when he became a top international prospect and signed with the New York Yankees as a 16-year-old.

He would spend his first three years in rookie ball, before starting his minor league career in 2015 with the Charleston RiverDogs, where he would slash .268/.338/.378 in 96 games. Oh, he also stole 71 bases in a single season.

His career would enter 2016, when he would be named the Yankees’ top prospect and MLB Pipeline’s 30th overall prospect. He would spend the entire 2016 season with the Yankees High-A team, also known as the Tampa Yankees.

He would slash .254/.306/.379, while having 118 hits, with only 33 of them for extra bases.

The year 2017 would be when things would start to change for Mateo. On July 31, he would be dealt as part of a trade that sent Sonny Gray and cash considerations to the Yankees for Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian.

After a few more solid years in the minors and even being awarded as an American League Future Star Game participant in 2019, Mateo would be given a new home.

On June 30, 2020, while MLB was on shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Athletics sent Mateo to the Padres for Junior Perez. This would mean that, once again, a former top prospect would have to make a new home for himself.

But there was a huge difference between this move to San Diego, as on August 13, 2020, Mateo would get the call to make his major league debut.

The start to Mateo’s big league career was a struggle, as he went zero for his first seven at-bats, before picking up his first major league hit August 27, with a ground rule double against Yusei Kikuchi. Mateo would finish the season as a Padre, while only batting .154/.185/.269.

But the big question is: How did Mateo become an Oriole?

Well, on August 3, 2021, the Padres decided to designate Mateo for assignment, and just two days later on August 5, the Orioles decided to claim him off waivers.

Mateo would make his O’s debut August 6, and immediately made an impact with a two-hit performance, including a triple and an RBI.

He would not be the complete Jorge Mateo we know and love today, but he would still be a big impact on the team’s 2021 season. However, Mateo would finally find his grove in 2022.

Mateo would end up being named the starting shortstop on the 2022 Baltimore Orioles. He would have a rocky April to start the season off on the offense side of the ball. But on the defense side of the ball, he would be non-stop with diving plays and incredible catches.

Even though Mateo has never been this offensive monster who has a 30-30 season, his defense and speed are two of the biggest factors for the 2022 Orioles.

He currently is third in DRS (defensive runs saved) with 11 and tied for second with 19 stolen bases.

Mateo doesn’t need to prove his worth on this team with his bat, he does that already with having dust fly off his cleats and flashing the leather. He is the defensive magician the Orioles not only needed but never expected.

What do you think of Mateo as the everyday shortstop for the O’s? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter! And make sure to use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content to show your Birdland swag!

Like Zack’s content? Follow him on Twitter – @Zackattack821

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