Mets prized prospect Ronny Mauricio burst onto the scene with five hits in his first three MLB games, but it wasn’t the 22-year-old’s offense that left his manager and double-play partner buzzing.
Buck Showalter and shortstop Francisco Lindor separately praised Mauricio for instinctively backing up throws to first base over the weekend despite his limited experience as a second baseman.
“The one thing that has impressed me the most is how composed he is,” Lindor after Sunday’s 6-3 win at home against the Mariners. “There’s a couple plays where no one really is going to talk about. He has backed up first base many times. … These little things like that show me that his IQ and his baseball awareness, it’s at a high level.”
The Dominican-born Mauricio is a natural shortstop, but he also spent time at second base, at third base and in left field at Triple-A Syracuse before being called up Friday. Blocked at shortstop by Lindor, who is under contract through 2031, Mauricio started all three games against the Mariners at second base, a position he says he’s embracing.
“It’s been really good,” Mauricio said Sunday. “I’m starting to feel more comfortable there. There’s a lot of work to do to get fully accustomed to play second base, but so far, so good and I’m looking forward to it.”
The switch-hitting Mauricio signed with the Mets for $2.1 million as an international free agent in 2017 and established himself as one of the teams’ top prospects before his MLB debut. In 116 games at Triple-A this year, Maurcio batted .292 with 23 home runs, 71 RBI, 30 doubles and 24 stolen bases.
He recorded two hits in Friday’s game against Seattle, had two more Saturday and added another Sunday. He also stole two bases and scored a run during the three-game set.
“It’s been great,” Mauricio said. “Since the very moment they called me to tell me that I would be up here, I said, ‘You know what? Let’s go out there, let’s go have fun, because these first moments don’t happen twice.’ I just want to continue to go out there, continue to play well, and try to help the team win.”
Mauricio says he “learned a lot” during his first three MLB games, including observing how opposing pitchers approached his at-bats.
Showalter said he’s watching to see if Mauricio can impact the game even when he’s not hitting, adding, “So far, so good.”
“That day where people just went out there and pumped fastballs — ‘Let’s see if you can hit this, kid’ — that doesn’t happen,” Showalter said. “Why do they play him the other way right-handed in the outfield? I love watching these teams. They’ve never seen him. What are they basing that on? Basing it on minor-league numbers, basing it on Double-A, Triple-A, on scouting reports, on metrics and what his swing path is. Everybody knows. You’re not sneaking up on anybody.”
Showalter plans to play Mauricio at multiple positions during the season’s final month. Asked which position he believes is Mauricio’s best, the manager replied Sunday, “We’re gonna find out.”