In my midseason top prospect update, posted on 8/10, Ronny Mauricio was listed as the club’s top prospect. One commenter said he wasn’t in his top five. And that wasn’t an unusual point of view to hold. MLB Pipeline had Mauricio fourth on their midseason list and SNY had him fifth. MetsMinors.net, in a list updated 9/5, had Mauricio eighth.
It floored me last year that a guy who hit 26 HR in Double-A at age 21 wasn’t getting more attention. And then he went out and won the MVP of the Dominican Winter League, had a strong Spring Training for the Mets and then hit like gangbusters the first two months at Triple-A. But the Mets kept him in the minors. And that may have been the best thing that happened to him. Mauricio struggled in June and part of July and if he did that in the majors, we would have heard how he wasn’t all that and MLB pitching was too much for him. Instead, it now looks like the normal ebb and flow of the season.
Mauricio put his cold spell behind him and started hitting again, even if not to the insane level of his first two months. When rosters expanded in September, he was called up to the Mets. He’s played 2B each game in the majors and looks competent there. Where he’s really made people take notice is with how hard he hits the ball. In his very first PA in the majors, Mauricio smoked a ball at 117.3 mph, the hardest-hit ball by a Met this season. It’s a rare game where he doesn’t post a triple-digit exit velocity and readings in the 110s still happen, too.
There were two big knocks on Mauricio. First was that it was unsure where he would fit defensively. And the other was about his plate discipline. Mauricio has given a good accounting on the first issue. The question now is if the Mets will look to keep things simple for him and have him play second base the rest of the year or if they’ll give him looks at third base and/or the outfield. It’s difficult for me to believe that his long-term home will be at second. But that doesn’t have to be decided this moment.
As for plate discipline, there’s little doubt that Mauricio likes to swing the bat. Given that, his 21.1 K% isn’t a red flag. In fact, among the 21 Mets this year to amass at least 20 PA, it ranks as the sixth-best mark on the club. He’s never going to walk a bunch, although hopefully he can add a couple of percentage points to his 5.3 BB%. Given the worry about his approach, you have to think these are excellent ratios for his first exposure to MLB pitching.
With a .370 BABIP, the hits have been falling in for Mauricio. At the same time, with how hard he hits the ball, you have to think he’s earned at least some of that excess balls in play performance. And it wouldn’t be a surprise if more extra-base hits followed.
Regardless, in his first 10 games in the majors, Mauricio looks like he belongs. Sometimes that’s half the battle. It will be great fun to watch him, both the rest of this season and in the years to come.