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Who is Jorge Mateo?

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On Tuesday, August 3rd, The Padres Designated INF/UTL Jorge Mateo for assignment. The move on a surface level shocked some people, but it wasn’t all that surprising. Mateo wasn’t hitting enough to warrant a roster spot on the loaded Padres. It is easy to look at Mateo’s .207/.250/.322, slash line this year and realize that he has underperformed. The Padres couldn’t even send down Mateo because he had no options left, and he took up a roster spot that a contending team couldn’t spare.

It was a no-brainer move for the Orioles to take a shot on Mateo’s upside when they claimed him off waivers just two days later. In a corresponding move, Orioles DFA’d Pat Valaika to make room for Mateo. Mateo will have to stay on the major league roster for the rest of the season if they want to keep him, so this is a test to see how well Mateo can do.

If there is one thing you have to know about Mateo is that he has blinding speed. Mateo’s sprint speed is in the 100th percentile, according to Baseball Savant. He is in an elite class with his 30.6 Sprint Speed, with only Trea Turner and Tim Locastro being better with 30.7. Speed doesn’t go into a slump, and we have already seen that this weekend against the Rays.

Mateo’s first hit as an Orioles was a triple on a long fly ball to center, where he got to third before the relay throw even got to the infield. He also is a threat on the base paths as he is seven for seven on stolen base attempts. With Mateo and Cedric Mullins on the roster with Richie Martin also getting a chance at short, the Orioles might be able to cause some chaos on the bases for the last two months of the season.

Mateo also brings defensive versatility to the O’s as he can pretty much play anywhere. He played outfield most of the time for the Padres, but he will probably play a lot more second as the Orioles have had a combined negative WAR at the position. He has also already made some great plays this weekend at 2B.

Mateo is still developing as a hitter and O’s fans shouldn’t expect too much, despite a hot weekend. Although he has improved his strikeout rate from 39.3 % last year to 29.7 % this year, he still needs to improve his strikeout rate and walk more. His OBP also improved, as did his slugging compared to last year.

Mateo is nowhere near complete yet as he still needs to improve his numbers and get on base more to use his speed to put pressure on opposing teams. This will also be interesting because Mateo has to be on the big league roster, and if he doesn’t develop enough, the Orioles will probably cut bait with him.

Personally, I see him hanging around Birdland for a while.

In conclusion, Jorge Mateo can be electric when he is going right. He has blistering speed that can cause nightmares for opposing teams with solid defense wherever you put him. He also has been slowly improving his offensive skills, which makes for a fascinating profile. It comes down to how fast Mateo can improve on offense which will show the Orioles if he is worth keeping around.

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