Baltimore Orioles One to Watch in 2022: Jorge Mateo

This might be the last season when the Baltimore Orioles are a 100-loss team. The wealth of talent (Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, D.L. Hall) in their farm system is on the verge of impacting the majors.

The club’s payroll is embarrassingly low – they only have $11 million committed for 2023 – so they could sign three or four mega free agents at the end of this season and still be in the bottom half for team payroll.

You might think that there are very few reasons to tune into Orioles games, but I give you Jorge Mateo.

The former Top-50 prospect was expected to be the future of middle infield for the Yankees, but he failed to develop on schedule. And, after a few heated outbursts, which prompted one description of “is he a headcase or just passionate?”, New York moved on.

Despite offering a tantalising combination of power, speed, and elite defence, he was shipped across the country to Oakland and then down state to San Diego.

DFA’d by the Padres in August, Mateo spent the rest of the season in Baltimore where he hit .280 (.748 OPS) in 32 games while fielding at second, third, shortstop, right field, and left field.

I realise that sprint speed is not everything, but being sandwiched between Trea Turner and Byron Buxton in a leaderboard table is probably a good thing.

His positional versatility, coupled with the Orioles’ relative lack of talent, points to Mateo securing a career-high in playing time. He is still only 26 years old, so is it too bold a prediction to suggest a 20-home run, 30-stolen base season?

Featured image photo of Jorge Mateo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Who is your “One to watch for 2022”? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @BatFlips_Nerds

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