Jorge Mateo’s bat doesn’t need a translator. It speaks baseball.
If he doesn’t get you with that swing, he’ll get you with his speed.
“It’s one of the things I enjoy the most, running out there when I’m on base and annoying the pitcher,” he said.
Like his game, Mateo’s English is a work in progress. No matter the language, the message is clear–he’s one of the Yankees’ prized minor league possessions.
“It’s a great honor to be considered one of the prospects for a prestigious organization but you have to work hard,” Mateo said.
The hard work is paying off. Since being promoted to the Yankees’ Double-A team, the Trenton Thunder, just weeks ago, Mateo is tearing it up. He’s hitting .375 and showing power and speed. He’s also averaging an RBI per game.
Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell, who once coached Mike Trout, says Mateo is electric.
“His enthusiasm is unbelievable.. he makes everyone better,” Mitchell said.
Mateo says he grew up admiring Derek Jeter–for the way he played and the way he carried himself. He’d love to play the same big league position as Jeter, but the Yankees are giving him a look at other positions, including centerfield.
“The position I like is shortstop, but I will play whatever position gets me to the big leagues,” he said.
A rare talent, the 22-year-old is determined to put it all together, including the English langauge.
“When you come to the United States for the first time, it’s hard, the culture is hard, but you need to learn English.”
For now, Mateo is taking it one word at a time. Like his favorite foods: “Chicken, rice and beans,” he says. Or his favorie movie (Bad Boy 1 and Bad Boy 2).
It’s all helping him break the language barrier.