We are almost there. As we reach the top four we find ourselves discussing two young prospects who managed to defy the odds and play some baseball on the same team. One prospect was the Mets top international Free Agent from 2017 and the other was their #1 pick from the 2018 draft. Still, somehow, Met fans were treated to Jarred Kelenic and Ronny Mauricio playing on the same team for part of the 2018 season.
At 17, Mauricio was supposed to be assigned to the DSL Mets. Afterall, the Mets have discovered a new cautious modus operandi for developing their players. Instead, the Mets had the exceptionally young infielder begin his year stateside where he was good enough in the GCL to earn a promotion to the APP.
Meanwhile Kelenic, who was only drafted this year, was supposed to see almost no playing time in his initial Rookie league assignment. Instead, his first 12 baseball games in the GCL were so good that he too found his way being promoted to the higher of two Rookie Leagues.
4. Ronny Mauricio, SS (APP) – What do you make of a shortstop who, at 6’3”, is likely too tall to stick to his position? Whatever you like. If Ronny Mauricio is going to hit as well as he proved able to in 2018 he will be a boon at shortstop, second, third or even the outfield. Though some might look at his overall OPS of .713 and be less enthusiastic.
One reason is his age. Until April, Mauricio is only 17 years old. Meaning that he’s 2-5 years younger than most of the players he’s playing against. To manage a solid OPS with that age difference is pretty remarkable but his age and potential are only part of what excites me.
The other half of the reason is where that .713 OPS comes from. His .273/.304/.410 batting line should tell you something very quickly. The obvious is that Mauricio doesn’t walk, almost at all. Patience and plate discipline are two of the things that a player can be taught. The other is that his SLG and BABIP were both fairly consistent.
Diving deeper you can see that he has the ability to hit all fields. While the majority of his hits were pulled, he did send the ball to the opposite field with fair regularity. With his skinny frame and young age, it is easy to see Mauricio challenging the Top 3 spots of these rankings for years to come.
Gus: Switch hitting shortstop with very good range but erratic arm, Mauricio may need to be converted to an outfielder due to his 6’4″ frame, the amount of SS prospects in the system and his offensive potential. Brought stateside by the Mets from the Dominican Republic after just turning 17, he held his own but will need to go tot he next level production wise. A natural righty, Mauricio has more natural power and a better OPS from the right side in the Gulf Coast League but depends on a more violent hip swing to generate power from the left side.
Chris: Mauricio was part of the International pool deep dive the Mets have been on. At this very early stage in his career there is a lot to like, especially given he is playing against guys several years older. I think he will likely grow out of SS given his size already, even more so once the muscle fills in. I like the look of the lefty swing better for this switch hitter, but it is nice to have this continue to develop. I have to say, I look at Mauricio as a trade chip with all the infielders in line and in place. For a team rebuilding and stocking the future, he’d be an infielder worth putting some money on.
3. Jarred Kelenic, OF (APP) – (Post Trade Update) I will be stinging from the loss of Kelenic for years, I have a feeling. He was one of the best looking draftees I’ve seen and looked like he could have gone on to a tremendous future. Anything can happen and maybe he doesn’t pan out but I feel like Seattle won that deal with New York by his inclusion alone.
I have to admit that when the Mets selected Jarred Kelenic with their first pick of the 2018 draft I wasn’t particularly happy with it. Kelenic seemed like too much of a long-term project. I had assumed this, perhaps wrongly, based on him being a high school prospect from a Northern state. Kinda like Brandon Nimmo.
Kelenic hit the GCL like a ton of dynamite and shattered those expectations with 12 dominating games. The, then, 18 year old managed a 1.060 OPS in the GCL with a .609 SLG. The one complaint I had was that he didn’t walk that often. However, it might be hard to take a walk when your batting average is over .400 and you’re playing at a higher level than you’ve ever seen.
Then the Mets promoted him to the APP and he seemed to stumble. If you look at his July numbers .147/.326/.309 you might wonder if that promotion came too soon. Then if you look at his August, you’ll have no recourse but to smile really widely. A .254/.354/.509 batting line not only showed us that he was still the player we’d seen in the GCL but with the added ability to take a few walks. I can see the Mets putting him in Columbia but I could also see them having the young outfielder move on to Brooklyn instead.
Gus: A potential five tool player with mid-90’s average exit velocity, Kelenic struggled upon arriving to Kingsport hitting just .253 after beefing up his stats against the younger Gulf Coast League. His mediocre range factor in CF suggests that he may become a corner outfielder and his 4 errors in just 52 games show a lack of concentration. Still, his 7 assists show the strong arm. While not excelling at any one thing, Kelenic shows above average tools across the prospect board but a long swing leaves him prone to slumps and strikeouts, as his 22% K rate shows. If Seattle wants to move him for Peterson, I’ll drive up to go get him.
Chris: I was not a huge fan of the Kelenic signing on draft day, but in his short time as a Met, Kelenic made me a believer. I think word around the industry is this guy has an above average every day major leaguer floor, with all star ceiling. In the end I think he gets assigned a corner OF spot. Seems like a great kid all around, and this is definitely a sting in the Diaz/Cano deal. What hurts less, if there is a bright spot in this is that Kelenic is another in a line of lefty hitting corner OF, for which we seem to have a ton of. Kelenic is on what looks like a 3-4 year arc to the Show, when we ostensibly will have Conforto and Nimmo in their primes. Ok, it still hurts.