Ryan Fuller sees daily changes in the batting cage, Jorge Mateo’s hand position, load, and subtle adjustments to short-stop his stance. They will be a bigger overhaul, but in small quantities, the changes are less unpleasant for the Orioles co-hit coach.
But for Darren Holmes, an assistant pitching coach practicing batting in the field, these changes to Mateo’s approach happened all at once. Like Fuller, he doesn’t see Mateo every day, so his surprise at the adjustment served as a verification.
“When someone else saw it, it was like,’Oh, it looks different’,’Okay, I’m moving the needle a little here,'” Fuller said.
Many of Mateo’s games have been developed. He is an elite speed plus fielder. He can attack, steal, and be amazed with occasional power on average. According to Sports Info Solutions, Mateo is ranked fifth in the league among shortstops who have saved four defensive points.
But doing everything at a consistent level is Mateo’s biggest challenge, and we haven’t faced it at the major league level until this season. As an Orioles everyday shortstop, Mateo put together the final piece of the puzzle, adding consistency to the remaining tools he already owns in the form of nine consecutive hits.
Mateo has the role he has always wanted. And he is responding to the claim.
“He didn’t have the opportunity to play every day and would have the opportunity to play shortstop here,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I want him to take it.”
The road to Mateo is filled with obstacles. A former high-ranking prospect of the New York Yankees, he was packaged as part of his contract to send Sonny Gray from Oakland Athletics to Bronx.
After that, he was assigned to the San Diego Padres in 2020 and made his major league debut as a utility fielder. As Fernando Tatis Jr. patrols the shortstop, there was no clear path to daily play time there.
And in August 2021, the Orioles removed Mateo from the Waivers announcement and opened the door for 26-year-olds. He momentarily showed the possibility of ending the season and played throughout the field.
However, Mateo scored goals this offseason and participated in spring training. And after hitting .381 at 1.315 OPS in nine spring training games, Hyde pulled Mateo aside.
“We want you to be our shortstop,” Hyde told him.
That’s all Mateo wanted to hear.
“Now I have the opportunity,” said Mateo. “I know how to deal with it. It’s a good opportunity for me and I use it to make my team proud.”
However, there was an adjustment that Fuller wanted to make. Due to the shortened spring training due to the 99-day lockout of baseball, batter coaches have more time to work one-on-one, waiting for Mateo to make most of the major adjustments until he forms a major league team. I did.
Initially his stance changed as Fuller tried to prevent the lower half of Mateo from drifting towards the pitcher. Next, we decided to change the Mateo load to return the bat to the shoulder joint and lengthen the bat path in the zone. Mateo speeded up and said he was focusing on getting the ball into play because “something would happen”.
“It’s like connecting the efficiency of the lower body with the efficiency of the upper body,” Fuller said. “He’s obviously super talented. We all see it every day, but consistency with the bat was a big focus for us.”
As the plate became more consistent (9 consecutive hits, averaging .243 in the league’s top 10 steals), coupled with shortstop flashy play, he raced in the center field and then double-played. I grabbed the pop-up and fired the ball first to catch the runner. He circled around a sharp grounder in the middle of Friday.
These are the outstanding moments that we see on a daily basis at this point. And they are part of the reason he limits his role as a daily shortstop in Baltimore, and for the first time in his major league career, lineup cards are where his name belongs to each game. It proves that.
“Looking at him, he’s a man with five tools,” Fuller said. “It’s fun to see him play.”
With subtle swing changes and a “five tools” skill set, Jorge Mateo has locked out the Orioles’ everyday shortstop, the Reading Eagle.
Source link With subtle swing changes and a “five tools” skill set, Jorge Mateo has locked out the Orioles’ everyday shortstop, the Reading Eagle.