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Jorge Mateo Starting To Translate Tools Into Results

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Oakland Athletics

Nearly every day, long before game time, Jorge Mateo makes his way to a Pacific Coast League field for extra work.

One afternoon he may be focusing on footwork with an infield coach. The next could be spent in the intoxicating presence of Rickey Henderson learning the artistry of baserunning. The A’s have made a point of bringing in their roving instructors to try to turn this highly tooled prospect into a major league force.

Last year was not good for Mateo. He hit only .230 and seemed overmatched in Triple-A. He fell in the prospect rankings. From the beginning, this year has been different. He has hit and hit with authority, batting .314 with 39 RBIs. His seven home runs in 41 games is a sample of his power potential. Most impressively, he has succeeded on 11 of his 14 stolen base attempts.

"His focus, maturity and hard work has led to great improvement,” said A’s farm director Keith Lieppman. "And maybe he sees a little of the light at the end of the tunnel. He sees he’s close to the big leagues, and that has inspired him.”

At the age of 23, the Dominican native is maturing into the player the A’s hoped he would become when they acquired him from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray deal.

Mateo’s outstanding tool his his speed. Lieppman ranks it at a 70-plus; not quite Billy Hamilton but among the fastest in baseball. The expectation is that he will develop into a leadoff hitter with the ability to steal bases, and he now ranks as a 50-grade hitter with 60 power potential.

The A’s have him playing both short and second base this year, preparing for wherever an opening may occur. Mateo’s middle-infield defense now ranks at 50, with potential to improve, and his arm strength is above-average. With the tools and the developing maturity, Mateo presents quite a package for the future.

In addition to the quantifiable tools, Mateo continues to learn the unquantifiable. The more he plays, the more his instincts develop. That happens in the clubhouse, as well.

"He’s become a really good teammate,” Lieppman said. "All the tools we’ve heard about are starting to come into play.”

A’s ACORNS

 Franklin Barreto has spent time in center field, as well as playing both shortstop and second base for Triple-A Las Vegas. The move provides flexibility should the A’s have a need in the outfield.

— After nearly two years of waiting, righthander James Kaprielian has been assigned to high Class A Stockton to resume a pitching career that has been derailed by Tommy John surgery and shoulder issues. The A’s plan to limit his innings total as he rebuilds his strength.

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