Fighting off some fierce competition for the title, the Mets’ top prospect will hopefully show why he was voted such in 2020 and 2021.
Considered one of the top rookies available during the 2017-2018 international signing period, the Mets and Dominican shortstop Ronny Mauricio agreed to a $2.1 million signing bonus for inking a deal with the organization, making his bonus the highest ever doled out by the team (a record that they would break the following year, when catcher Francisco Alvarez was signed for $2.7 million). He made his professional debut in 2018, suiting up for the GCL Mets and hitting .279/.307/.421 in 49 games. At the end of the season, he got a brief promotion to the Kingsport Mets, appearing in 8 games and going 7-30 with 3 walks, 9 strikeouts, and a stolen base. Rather than continue his development there in 2019, the Mets were extremely aggressive and assigned him to the Columbia Fireflies. One of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League, Mauricio hit .290/.333/.394 in 59 games in the first half and .244/.280/.320 in 56 games in the second half, good for a .268/.307/.357 batting line in 116 games. Presumably, he would’ve been assigned to the St. Lucie Mets in 2020, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, he did not get to play in 2020. He was invited to the Coney Island alternate site and the fall instructional league, though, where he impressed many in the organization.
An interesting thing happened when Mauricio took his first at-bat this year. He blew up. Not literally, of course, but the middle infielder looked like he put on some pounds. While his numbers generally are solid, they don’t necessarily merit Mauricio’s spot on Mets-centric and national prospect lists. Rather, the switch-hitting shortstop has mainly been projection at this point. His leggy, athletic 6’3”, 165-pound frame was expected to grow and add muscle, and that prognostication seems to now be taking place.
With a quick, whippy stroke that shows above-average speed, many scouts and evaluators project Mauricio to hit for average. He was also expected to hit for above-average power, and with the growth he underwent between 2019 and now, he may soon begin doing so. Coupled with his defensive skills, Mauricio has the potential to be one of baseball’s white whales: a switch-hitter who hits for average, hits for power, and plays excellent defense.
Regarding his defense, he reads the ball well off the bat, shows good reaction times and instincts, has soft hands, a quick transfer, and possesses a plus arm. He does not possess as much quick-twitch muscle or speed as you might want from a middle infielder, but his range has not suffered much up to this point in his career thanks to his quick reactions and instincts. Concerns have existed that as his body continues maturing, he might be forced to move off of shortstop, but he should be able to stick at the position so long as he remains athletic and agile. Should his body develop in such a way that his loss of agility makes him a liability at the position, third base and the outfield are certainly options.
With no experience above Low-A Columbia, there is no real chance that Maurico has an impact on the 2021 Mets. A non-roster invitee to spring training, he will be working with coaches to improve his offense and further refine his defense. Come 2022, presumably with a season in the upper minors under his belt, the infielder may force his name into conversations regarding the major league roster.