Throughout his Minor League career, Mateo has proven to be a mercurial prospect, at times flashing his incredible raw tools and at times maddening with his inconsistent performance on the field. It was true when he was with the Yankees, who originally signed him, and also after the A’s acquired him in July 2017 in the Sonny Gray deal. The enigmatic speedster did put a rough 2018 season behind him by putting up very good numbers in 2019, but even then showed his streakiness by fading badly down the stretch as other teammates got called up to the big leagues. Out of options entering the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Mateo was acquired by the Padres in late June for a PTBNL.
When Mateo is at his best, he has wow tools, starting with his top-of-the-scale speed. That makes him very dangerous on the basepaths, though he didn’t try to steal as much with the A’s as he did earlier in his career. He is capable of making hard contact with surprising pop at the plate, though he’s struggled with plate discipline for much of his career. Most of that can be attributed to his game clock. When he goes too fast, his strikeouts spike. When he slows down too much and gets low energy, he’s too passive. There was an overall jump in maturity for him on the field for most of 2019, though he did sulk when he wasn’t promoted and it showed in his performance.
That same game clock can impact his defense, where he typically gets high marks, making errors when he speeds up and letting the ball play him when he slows down. He’s mostly played shortstop in his career, though he’s seen time previously in center field and at second base last year.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 80 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
For much of his Minor League career with the Yankees, Mateo was viewed as a super-talented, yet enigmatic prospect. He was, once upon a time, that organization's top prospect, but a lackluster 2016 season caused his star to fade. A light seemed to go off in 2017 with a push to Double-A and he kept producing when the A's acquired him that July in the Sonny Gray deal. He wasn't able to replicate that success as he moved to Triple-A in 2018.
Mateo's best tool remains his top-of-the-scale speed that has allowed him to wreak havoc on the basepaths. He stole 82 bases back in 2015 and 52 in that resurgent '17 season, though he managed to swipe only 25 in his first full season with Oakland. Much of that has to do with his offensive regression which resulted in him not getting on base nearly as frequently. His strikeout rate jumped while his walk rate decreased, showing poor plate discipline and pitch selection. At his best, he has shown surprising pop with the wheels to take extra bases often.
Mateo gets high grades for his defensive work at shortstop, with plus range and a very strong arm, though he still loses focus and can be inconsistent at the premium position. He saw a little time at second base in 2018 and played the outfield with the Yankees, so if the bat doesn't come back around, he eventually could end up as a speedy utility type.
Once viewed as the Yankees' top prospect, Mateo's stock slid in 2016 due to his inconsistent performance in the Florida State League, and even more so when New York's acquisition of Gleyber Torres at the Trade Deadline forced him off shortstop and down the organizational depth chart. A mid-season All-Star in his return to Class A Advanced Tampa in 2017, Mateo reached Double-A Trenton for the first time in June and was hitting .300/.381/.525 when the Yankees dealt him to Oakland as part of the Trade Deadline blockbuster for Sonny Gray. He continued to produce as Double-A Midland's shortstop after the trade and ultimately played a major role in helping the Rockhounds secure their fourth straight Texas League title.
Mateo has a nice all-around set of tools, but it's his elite speed that enables him to truly impact games. He led the Minors with 82 steals in 2015 and tied for third with 52 in '17 to push his career total to 234 stolen bases in his first six pro seasons. Mateo's wheels are equally dynamic out of the box, as he regularly turns in top-of-the-scale run times from home to first. His deceptive strength translates to sneaky raw power and he has an offensive ceiling of a .275 hitter with 15 homers per season, though he'll need to tighten his plate discipline to become a quality leadoff man.
Mateo has the raw tools to stick at shortstop, most notably outstanding range and plus arm strength, though his consistency and focus in the field still leave something to be desired. Some scouts believe he'll wind up at second base or in center field, the latter of which he played for the first time in his career in 2017.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 80 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55
Mateo began 2016 as the Yankees' top-rated prospect, but he wasn't even the best shortstop prospect in the system by the end of the year. After arriving from the Cubs via the Aroldis Chapman trade, Gleyber Torres not only supplanted him but also pushed him to second base at Class A Advanced Tampa. Mateo started to get back on track in 2017 with a return to Tampa and then looked like his old self after a promotion to Double-A Trenton, where he was hitting .300/.381/.525 when the Yankees dealt him to Oakland as part of the Trade Deadline blockbuster for Sonny Gray.
One of the fastest runners in baseball, Mateo has top-of-the-scale speed and led the Minors with 82 steals in 2015 before dipping to 36 last season. He can get from the right side of the plate to first base in less than 4.0 seconds and wreak havoc once he gets on base. His quickness also should boost his on-base ability, though he'll need to tighten his plate discipline to become a quality leadoff man.
While his speed gets the most attention, Mateo has a nice array of tools. His deceptive strength gives him solid raw power and he has an offensive ceiling of a .275 hitter with 15 homers per season. Few players can match his combination of quickness and arm strength, though he has been erratic at shortstop. Some scouts believe he'll wind up at second base or in center field, where he saw increased playing time in 2017.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 80 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55
Mateo didn't generate any headlines when he signed for $225,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, but he has attracted plenty of attention since making his U.S. debut two years later. He started drawing comparisons to Jose Reyes and teams almost immediately started asking for him in trade talks. After leading the Minors with 82 steals when he made the jump to full-season ball in 2015, he's putting together a nice encore in high Class A -- with the exception of a two-week suspension for insubordination in July that cost him a trip to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
A true top-of-the-scale runner, Mateo can get from the right side of the plate to first base in less than 4.0 seconds and has basestealing skills to boot, succeeding on 83 percent of his attempts in his first four pro seasons. More than just a slap-and-dash guy, he has wiry strength and displays solid raw power during batting practice that has yet to manifest itself during games. He could develop into a 15-homer threat, though getting on base is a higher priority and he'll need to tighten up his strike zone to do that.
Initial scouting reports on Mateo raised some concerns about his throwing arm, but it has gotten stronger and now grades as a plus tool. With his actions, range, hands and arm, he'll stay at shortstop for the long term. He needs to improve his defensive consistency after making 30 errors in 99 games last year.
Teams started asking about Mateo in trade talks shortly after he made his U.S. debut last June. He played in just 15 games before a pitch broke his left wrist, but that was long enough for him to draw comparisons to Jose Reyes. One club official said Mateo has the highest ceiling of any Yankees middle-infield prospect since Derek Jeter.
Mateo's top-of-the-scale speed is his standout tool, allowing him to run wild on the bases and cover plenty of ground at shortstop. He's not just a slappy hitter, as he has the wiry strength to drive balls into the gaps. He needs to make more consistent contact but shows a willingness to draw walks.
When Mateo signed for $225,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, there were some concerns about his arm strength. It has improved significantly and now rates as a plus, and there's no reason he should have to move off shortstop.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 75 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45</p>
Mateo didn't make his U.S. debut until late June, but already teams are asking about him when they engage the Yankees in trade talks. Signed for $225,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, he offers an exciting package of tools.</p>
Mateo stands out most for his speed, which draws grades ranging from 70-80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He's a threat to steal bases and covers lots of ground at shortstop. New York wondered about Mateo's arm strength when he signed, but it has gotten stronger and is now an asset.</p>
In addition to his speed and defense, Mateo has more upside at the plate than most shortstops. He's wiry strong, and he already shows signs of being able to hit for average and provide double-digit home run totals down the line. Mateo is still just 19 and is six levels removed from the big leagues, but one club official said the organization hasn't had a middle infielder with a ceiling higher than his since Derek Jeter.