|(Photo: Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News)|
The spring is finally upon us and with this segment of Yankee Prospect Watch, we take a look at two guys who have something to prove this summer. Aaron Judge will seemingly get his first full season opportunity in the Bronx after a stint late last summer, while Jorge Mateo is looking for a bounce back year following a disappointing 2016.
Judge finished his 27 game stint with the Bombers slashing just .179/.263/.345 with four home runs. Most concerning was the 42 strikeouts in 84 at-bats though. Judge, as we know, is a monster of a man which creates a huge strike zone that he has to work on protecting.
Judge was dominate in 2014 in his first year in the minor leagues after being drafted in the first round by the Yankees in 2013, belting a combined 21 home runs (including four in the AFL) that year. In 2015, Judge began the year in Trenton and was promptly promoted to Scranton where he struggled and slashed .224/.308/.373 with eight home runs before settling down at that level in 2016, where he belted 19 home runs in 410 at-bats while slashing .270/.366/.489.
|(Photo: Kathy Willens/AP)|
As we know, Judge possesses plenty of raw power within his 6’ 7”, 275 pound frame. We also know he will strike out a lot. He needs to cut his strikeout rate down to 20-23% or so and belt 20+ home runs for many people to see him as a success this season, depending on the number of at-bats though of course. A slash line of .240/.330/.450 or so would be solid if he can produce the long ball and limit the strikeouts.
|Photo: Charles Wenzelberg|
Jorge Mateo entered 2016 as one of the most heralded prospects in baseball following his breakout season in 2015. Over 117 games in A-ball and high-A ball, Mateo stole a whopping 82 bases and slashed a very respectable .278/.345/.392. After playing just 15 total games in the States prior to that season, the shortstop gained instant notice and became a top prospect essentially overnight.
|Photo: Bryan Green|
One of the biggest headlines of the season for Jorge though was when he was suspended for two weeks by the Yankees for allegedly mouthing off to Yankees executives over his displeasure of not being promoted to Double-A. This caused Mateo to miss the All-Star Futures game.
Everyone was high on Mateo, and much like Judge, he has a lot of question marks coming into this season. Mateo says he has been working hard and he is looking to put 2016 behind while embracing the opportunity to play whatever position the Yankees determine is the best for the organization.
|Photo: USA Today|
Many, including myself, expect Mateo to find his way to Trenton this spring as he works on rebounding from 2016, and at just 21 years-old, he has time to still develop. If he can make more consistent hard contact this season and prove to be effective wherever the Yankees choose to play him, he could be back in the talks of one of the best prospects in baseball.