Decisions on playing time impending with Mets sending up prospects Ronny Mauricio, Brett Baty – Boston Herald
Ronny Mauricio is headed to Queens but where he’ll play is a different story.
The Mets are expected to call up Ronny Mauricio and Brett Baty from Triple-A Syracuse when rosters expand to 28 on Sept. 1. This will mark the first time Mauricio, Baty and fellow prospects from the 2023 class Mark Vientos and Francisco Alvarez have all been on the major league team together. However, the Mets have a difficult task ahead of them when it comes to determining where three of the four will play in the future. They can start to determine that Friday.
As there are with every rookie, there are questions about Mauricio’s game that he’ll have to answer and can start to answer with this call-up. As of now, he doesn’t really have a defensive position.
Mauricio was signed as a shortstop in 2017 during the international signing period, but he’s been blocked by Francisco Lindor since 2021. The Mets have had a few years to prepare for this but only started moving him around the diamond this season while he was in Triple-A as a way to not overwhelm him during a key development period. Mauricio has been working at second base for the last few months but has also played in left field and at third base. Last winter, he played third base in the Dominican Winter League.
Manager Buck Showalter puts a heavy emphasis on defense and likes to work rookies in slowly. This could mean using Mauricio as a designated hitter a few days a week and then giving him another few days in the field.
Mauricio is also blocked at second base by Jeff McNeil, but not fully since McNeil plays in the outfield part-time. Third base is currently a platoon between Jonathan Arauz and Vientos, and left field is a rotating group of fringe players. There is no obvious outfielder of the future in the Mets’ system right now, though Luisangel Acuña and Drew Gilbert should be there in another year or two.
Third base hasn’t been discussed much when it comes to Mauricio, though some outside of the Mets have speculated about whether or not the hot corner is a better fit for him. Baty is the presumed third baseman of the future, but much like with Mauricio and Vientos, the idea of moving him to left field has been discussed. Baty had an up-and-down rookie season. His -7 outs above average shows that the Mets made the right decision to send him back to Triple-A to work on his defense. Vientos has improved at third base, but his future is still likely elsewhere.
Mauricio’s big build (6-3, 166 pounds), and his natural instincts could be a fit at third base. He excelled at the position while playing for Licey de Tigres in winter ball last season.
Barring disaster, Lindor will continue to play shortstop every day through the rest of the season so that’s one position we can cross off the list.
Mauricio’s bat is the main attraction. The 22-year-old Dominican slashed .292/.346/.506 with 23 home runs in 116 games for Triple-A Syracuse this season. He also stole 24 bases, the second time in as many years he’s hit 20 or more home runs and stolen 20 or more bases, having done so last season with Double-A Binghamton.
However, there are still big questions about that big bat. Mauricio hasn’t shown a willingness to shrink the zone. Last season in Double-A, he walked 24 times in 541 plate appearances. This season, he walked 10 more times than last season in nine fewer at-bats, which doesn’t exactly represent a huge shift in his approach. His walk rate has hovered around 4.0-4.5, which isn’t great.
Earlier this season, Mets general manager Billy Eppler said he wanted to see Mauricio chase fewer balls outside of the strike zone. Eppler likes hitters who can take a lot of pitches, grind out at-bats and get on base. Mauricio doesn’t exactly fit that mold. He has long been plagued by his own inability to take pitches is often fooled by bad-breaking stuff outside of the zone. That could be why the Mets have avoided calling him until now.
The home runs and the hard hits are impressive, but scouts haven’t exactly been impressed by his approach at the plate and he’s without a position right now. There is excitement around the move, but it expectations should be tempered.
This call-up could be an attempt by the Mets to showcase him for a potential trade over the winter, or it could be a way to drum up some excitement during the final month of the season. Either way, he’ll finally get a chance to see if he can hit big league pitching and get some defensive reps in the infield.
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