The Arizona Diamondbacks made an interesting move on the international market today, signing 17 year old Dominican Prospect Wagner Mateo. Mateo was one of the most sought after international free agents last year, but due to concerns regarding his vision, the Cardinals voided Mateo’s $3 million plus contract.
Surprisingly, Arizona was able to sign Mateo for only $500,000. The bonus either means: (1) Arizona is getting an absolute steal; or (2) Mateo has serious vision problems. The truth is probably somewhere in between. As this Arizona Republic article discusses, Mateo’s vision cannot be brought to 20/20 with corrective lenses, which is a huge red flag for any hitter. Nevertheless, despite the risk, I like the strategy of “buying low” on a player who was so impressive last summer. For example, possible 2010 high school First-rounder Kaleb Cowart discussed watching Mateo play in a recent scout.com interview: “[our team] were down in Jupiter we saw that Wagner Mateo kid, and he was nasty. He just had unreal tools, he hit like 97 MPH from the outfield, and just dropped bombs at the plate,” Cowart said.
There is little information available regarding players’ vision, but Mateo can probably be able to see the ball better than this guy. From the same previously linked site (pretty funny), while totally irrelevant, check out ”unfrozen caveman pitcher.”
Here is a video of Mateo playing in an instructional league last year.