According to Triple-A Nashville manager Fran Riordan, Jorge Mateo plays with a lot of "flair and style." But after rounding the bases for a second time Thursday, he still acted like he's been there before.Oakland's No. 4 prospect tied career highs with four hits and two homers for Triple-A Nashville,
According to Triple-A Nashville manager Fran Riordan, Jorge Mateo plays with a lot of "flair and style." But after rounding the bases for a second time Thursday, he still acted like he's been there before.
Oakland's No. 4 prospect tied career highs with four hits and two homers for Triple-A Nashville, but the game was suspended in the eighth inning due to the Pacific Coast League travel curfew. The Sounds led, 14-6, with two outs in the bottom of the eighth when the contest was halted. It'll be resumed when Nashville returns to Colorado Springs on Aug. 9.
"He was kind of subdued, almost like he wasn't surprised," Riordan said. "It was certainly a lot of fun to see how the guys reacted when he got back to the dugout; it was pretty cool. ... He was very calm and cool and collected, just made it seem like it was any other day, which for a player of his kind of ability, it could be just any other day."
Mateo hadn't had any days like that this season, though. After MLB.com's No. 71 overall prospect began the year 5-for-9 with a pair of doubles in his first two games, he hasn't strung together back-to-back multi-hit efforts since. Mateo went 5-for-60 over his last 15 games.
"After a slow start, he's been squaring up a lot of balls, but hasn't had anything to show for it. But to his credit, he stuck with his approach and hasn't tried to do too much," the skipper said. "[Thursday], he actually got some results. It was so great to see for him, squaring up four balls and driving two balls out of the park. So it was a big day for him and it was good to finally see him get some results for the work he's been putting in."
While it was a windy, chilly afternoon, Mateo was ready from the get-go. He drilled the second pitch of the game over the center-field fence for his first home run of the campaign. In the third, the 22-year-old added a 1-0 single to left, and in the fourth, he ripped a two-run jack to center for his first three-hit game of the season.
After striking out in the sixth in his only at-bat that lasted longer than three pitches, Mateo knocked a first-pitch single to left for his ninth career four-hit effort. He then swiped second for his fifth steal of the year. The afternoon also marked the Dominican Republic native's third multi-homer game in seven pro seasons. With the breakout performance, Mateo bumped his slash line unofficially up to .198/.235/.323.
"It was just pitch selection. He waited until he got a pitch he could handle and a pitch he could drive and he didn't miss it," Riordan said. "I think that's where a lot of his struggles were early in the season, just going outside the strike zone and trying to do too much. He didn't do that [Thursday]. He stayed locked into his approach and got some good pitches to hit and didn't miss."
Riordan managed Mateo last season with Double-A Midland after the shortstop was dealt from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray deal on July 31. Although the skipper has seen a number of games in which Mateo put up similar stats, he thought this probably was the most locked in his star has been for him to date.
"He's a special talent and I got to know him quite well last year. And then coming into this year, performing at a higher level for the first time as a young player, he's handled some adversity really well," Riordan said. "I think any time a young player can handle adversity and maintain his mental focus and maintain his edge and his ability to compete, that's when you start to see growth. And I think we see that with Jorge every day."
Mateo could add another knock when the game resumes with his leadoff spot batting third in the ninth. But that's only if he is still with the Sounds at that time.
"I think a player with his kind of ability, the sky's the limit for him. He very easily could be in the Major League lineup in Oakland in August," the manager said. "But that will, of course, be up to him and his performance."
Anthony García also had a big game for Nashville, tying his personal best with his sixth two-homer game. He tallied at least five RBIs for the third time.
"He's a guy who has a proven track record in this league and a guy who can do a lot of things on both sides of the ball," Riordan said. "And another guy who hasn't had the results that he's wanted early in the year, but has handled it like you would expect a seasoned veteran to handle it. He treats every at-bat the same, he treats every day the same and he keeps a positive mind-set."
Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.