Mateo Could Be Even Better

Mateo has a 10-1 strikeout to walk ratio so far

BROOKLYN, NY - Luis Mateo, 22, leads the New York-Penn League in strikeouts and his slider is one that his pitching coach says could strikeout Major League hitters right now. As one of four Cyclones players chosen to play in the All-Star Game, Mateo plans on continuing his success through the end of the season and into his next one.

Mateo has pitched 59.1 innings and has racked up a total of 71 strikeouts, leading the Brooklyn Cyclones as well as the league.

In 2011, he made his minor league debut with the DSL Mets, after signing as a minor league free agent, where he limited his right-handed opposition to a .194 batting average and his left-handed opposition to a .157 average. Mateo carried these successes over to his first season with the Cyclones through preparation and building his lower-body strength.

"I prepared myself for this season by getting my lower body stronger," Mateo noted through the help of a translator. "I've been working on staying in shape and I've continued that preparation through the season."

Seeing as though the 6-foot-3, 185 pound right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic has never played in the United States prior to this season, pitching coach Marc Valdez made note of Mateo's first American baseball experience.

"It's his first time here in the states," Valdez said, "but he's adjusting well. But, I still continue to harp on certain little things we see from game-to-game to work on."

Valdez specified what he and Mateo continue to work on. Rich Donnelly, Cyclones' Manager, also noted where Mateo needs improvement. Yet, both Donnelly and Valdez had just as many positive words for Mateo as they did critiques.

"He's got to work a little bit harder," Valdez said, "on his concentration in the game as far as locating his fastball to both sides of the plate and continue to keep going.

"One game, for instance, [Luis] was a little bit off on his fastball to arm side, which is maybe in on a right-handed hitter. So we worked on that a lot and minimized his sliders because he can throw that in his sleep."

"Luis is a great pitcher," Donnelly said. "Like I always say, these guys start as freshman and by the end of the season, they become sophomores. He's really shown his talent this season; he has a lot of strong points, but he also has a ways to go."

As for Mateo's pitches, his slider is one of a kind. Valdez attributes his slider to one that could get the Major League hitters out.

"His pitching ranges between 92 to 95 [mph]," Valdez said. "He's got good movement on his fastball and he's got a big league slider, what we call a plus-plus pitch. His slider can get big league hitters out right now."

When asked about his mentality on the mound, Mateo says he focuses on one thing and one thing only: strikeouts.

"All I think about is striking out—strike out, strike out, strike out," Mateo mentioned. "I try to bring my best every game."

Mateo's mentality on the mound proved successful. This season, Mateo was honored as the New York-Penn League Pitcher/Player of the Week twice—making him the second player in franchise history to have been honored twice in the same season.

Valdez and Donnelly recognize that the confidence Mateo has on the mound helps with his consistency, yet they hope to see more improvements because of the potential that he has.

"He's got consistency and confidence in his pitches, especially his slider," Valdez noted. "He just needs to have quicker innings and he needs pitch into deeper times of the game, like the seventh and eighth innings."

"Mateo has a lot of potential to really succeed in this organization," Donnelly said. "He just has to stay focused and get off the mound quickly."

Mateo has taken his coaches' critiques and his own personal strides as a way of preparing for both the All-Star Game and for his postseason.

"I'm really excited [about] the All-Star game," Mateo said, "and there's nothing different as far as preparation goes, I'll still prepare to pitch in the same way.

"After the season ends, I'm going back to my country, the Dominican Republic, and I'm going to spend time with my family and after that, I'll get ready for another season."

Mateo's current goal is to stay the Cyclones' leader and go out and win. Valdez holds the same goal for Mateo.

"I'm really excited," Mateo said. "I'm still going out. I want to be the man and the leader by the end of the season."

"He's been pitching very well this season," Valdez noted. "We want him to finish it off just as strong."

When asked about where he'd like to be playing next season, Mateo mentioned that his immediate goal is to start on a full-season team. With the way this current season has gone for him, we may see Mateo fulfilling this goal. His recent successes show his talent and skill on the mound as well as his ability to apply critiques to his performance.

"Only God knows where I'll be next season," Mateo said. "But, my goal is to start in St. Lucie or in Double-A. It's not up to me, but I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing."

InsidePitchMagazine.com Recommended Stories