Friday, September 15, 2023

Mauricio Debuts At Third Base, One Of Many Options Mets Have For Top Prospect


Ronny Mauricio at third base on Friday night, with Francisco Lindor at shortstop and Jeff McNeil at second base. Photo by Jason Schott.

Ronny Mauricio has made his mark on the Mets, as the top prospect has fit in well in his two weeks in the Major Leagues, while each day can bring a new thing for him to experience.

At the plate, through Thursday, the switch-hitting Mauricio has hit .306 (11-for-36) with one home run, five RBI, two walks, two doubles, and four steals in 10 games. He is one of five players in Mets franchise history to record a hit in each of his first five career Major League games.

In the field, he played second base in all of his first ten games, and when Friday’s lineup for the Mets’ game against the Reds was announced, it showed he would make his debut at third base.

“I think he’ll present a lot of good options for us as we go forward and things shake out,” Mets Manager Buck Showalter, in his pregame press conference on Friday afternoon, said of Mauricio. “You know, I like the fact that we’ve given him a lot of looks at different places, so we’ve got some options there…you know, the good news is that he presents himself well at three or four positions.”

Showalter was asked how long he sees Mauricio at third base, and he said, “Depends on the needs of everybody, you know, things, Brett (Baty), see how he’s going to be (with his groin injury), you know. Mark (Vientos) played yesterday, I’m just trying to solve a lot of things, so tonight it fit and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

On what he’s looking for from Mauricio at third base. Showalter said, “One game’s not going to - I got a pretty good idea, I think, Joey (Cora) and I, of what, Chavy (Eric Chavez), we’ve got some good people here that got some trained eyes about it, got some history doing this. I’m not going to get into comparing players, but the mode of operation with Manny (Machado) years ago (when Buck managed the Orioles), you know, Bobby Dickerson, we go down to Bowie almost for three weeks and work out around 2:00 when nobody was there, so it was king of old to him by the time he got (to the Majors); we knew that was where he was going to end up with J.J. (Hardy). 

“This is a different dynamic here, hope to get him a game or two at shortstop before he gets done. Keep in mind that Mo played third a lot at winter ball, so this is nothing, really. It’s an adjustment - I think it’s more of an adjustment going to second than it is from short to third; biggest adjustment was going to the outfield.”

With Licey in the Dominican winter league, Mauricio played nine games at third base, while the lion’s share of his games were at short stop (27), with one game at second base.

In the minor leagues this season, he played exclusively at Triple-A Syracuse, and in 116 games overall, he played 56 games at second base, 27 at shortstop, 26 in left field, 6 as the designated hitter, and 2 at third base.

Showalter said of what he’s seen of Mauricio, “I like him at all three of them (infield positions), really, didn’t get a whole lot of looks in the outfield. Everybody likes what they see of him; offense is going to come and go, it’s where can you impact things defensively? These looks are fleeting, so we want to take looks at it. You’re also trying to solve the needs of everybody, and it’s not just him.”

On how the transition from shortstop to third base appears easier than to second, Showalter said, “You might get some debate on that, but the pivot is completely different. First time, you’re not looking at the runner coming to you; now you’ve got your back to the runner, it’s a different angle. It’s like Jeff (McNeil) playing right field instead of left field - as a second baseman, he’s looking at the ball coming off the bat the same way, but the ball comes off the bat differently for right-handed hitters to right field than it dies for most left-handed hitters to left field. I think that’s what people miss a lot is the left-hander’s swing of the ball comes off compared to a right-hander’s, for the most part.

“It’s different spin; you’ve got more time in one place, less time in another place. There’s different types of plays, but at some point, infield’s infield, catch and throw it.”

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