After hitting .254/.306/.379 over 113 games in the Florida State League last season, Jorge Mateo understands he still has work to do at the Class A Advanced level.
Back with Tampa again to begin the 2017 campaign, the Yankees No. 4 prospect is focusing on the opportunities in front of him. That was the case Friday night when he recorded his first career multi-homer game and finished with four hits in an 11-5 win over Clearwater at Spectrum Field.
Gameday box score
"The greatest thing about working with Jorge this year is he's not looking to the future at all as far as what he needs to do to get out of this league," said Tampa hitting coach Eric Duncan. "He's not concerned with it at all. He knows what he needs to do on a daily basis to get better as a hitter and that's what he's been working on."
The 21-year-old shortstop showed some fruits of that labor on Friday when he hit solo homers to left-center in the second and fourth innings off Threshers starter Blake Quinn.
"Jorge has extreme abilities when it comes to bat speed, power, all that type of stuff," Duncan said. "He shows his ability every day in cage work and then batting practice, the ability to drive the ball all over the field with serious authority. The home runs are not that surprising to me because of how well and how hard he's been working this season."
MLB.com's No. 40 overall prospect tacked on a double to left in the sixth and a single to right in the eighth.
"He was just swinging at good pitches," Duncan said. "When he allows himself to work off quality pitches in the strike zone, with his ability and his toolset, he's going to have a lot of success. He knows that and it's something he's been working hard on."
That improving plate discipline is also beginning to show in the box scores for Mateo, who did not strike out for the third time in five games after fanning 36 times in his first 29 contests.
"It's something that he works on on a daily basis, in cage work or batting practice," Duncan said. "In his preparation for the pitcher that we are facing that night, he wants to understand what the pitcher has and what they are going to try to do to him. It's going to get better and better over time with him as far as strike zone discipline, but we are starting to see that now."
The four hits tied a career high for the native of the Dominican Republic, who was batting .333 on April 15, but fell into an 8-for-54 funk to finish the month.
"It was just one of those things that happens naturally throughout the season with a little combination of some tough luck," Duncan said. "He was squaring up a lot of balls that were going right at people. I think it was just one of those one-week or two-week things that kind of happens to everybody."
Yankees No. 19 prospect Nick Solak, Tito Polo and Trey Amburgey also went deep.
"It's always nice to see your guys have success, as a hitting coach or any coach on the staff," Duncan said. "We understand how hard these guys work and my group of guys have been tremendous this year. They showed up ready to work every day so it's nice for them to be able to launch one and have a nice day."
Jhalan Jackson added three hits for Tampa, while Yankees No. 22 prospect Zack Littell picked up his third win despite allowing four runs on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.