Mateo takes flight for Down East
Daniel Mateo may not be a household name in the Rangers system, but he’s starting to make a name for himself. Mateo homered three times and finished 4-for-6 with a career-high seven RBIs in Single-A Down East’s 13-1 win over Fayetteville on Saturday night.
Daniel Mateo may not be a household name in the Rangers system, but he’s starting to make a name for himself.
Mateo homered three times and finished 4-for-6 with a career-high seven RBIs in Single-A Down East’s 13-1 win over Fayetteville on Saturday night.
Mateo resembled the player he feels he is most like: Carlos Gómez. It makes sense since he described his style of play as “aggressive” and “always looking to help the team win in any way I can.”
Mateo was aggressive from the outset, hitting the third pitch he saw he over the left-field fence for a two-run homer in the first inning. He followed up in the next frame with another two-run poke on the first pitch, this time to right. The Dominican Republic native finished off the trifecta with a three-run jack to left-center field in the fifth.
Mateo’s impressive power surge brought his tally to nine on the season. The 21-year-old continues to hit for more power after he hit no homers in 2019 and three last year. Although the jump in power is real, it is not something he is concerned with.
“[It's] not really something I am focused on,” Mateo said. “I have always looked for line drives and making good contact with the ball.”
Mateo’s impressive performance improved his slash line to .280/.331/.427 with 16 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs and 28 stolen bases in 66 games.
Working hard is nothing new for Mateo. He started playing baseball in 2012 to try and help support his family financially. Since then, it has been a constant grind for Mateo, who took part in a number of tryouts after he came to the United States.
The Rangers gave him that chance in 2019 when they signed him to a Minor League contract. Mateo went on to play in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League and slashed .294/.358/.378 in the 42 games.
It garnered him an invite to play in Arizona in 2020, before COVID-19 canceled the Minor League season. The outfielder got his chance to play last year and proved his worth by slashing .327/.397/.545 with a .942 OPS in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. Mateo moved up to Down East last August and finished the season batting .272/.315/.368 in 36 games with the Wood Ducks.
As for what’s next, he's just trying to keep things simple.
“Keep working and not trying to change too much from what I have been doing,” Mateo said. “In the three years I have been playing for [the Rangers], I have been doing things the same way and it has gone well, thanks to God. I just have to keep working.”