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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Ten

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, June 9th to June 15th?

Ronny Mauricio
Steve Sypa

Hitter of the Week

Ronny Mauricio

2019 Season: 58 G, 237 AB, .295/.339/.401, 70 H, 13 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 13 BB, 48 K, 3/8 SB, .362 BABIP

Week: 5 G, 22 AB, .318/.375/.545, 7 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 2 BB, 6 K, 0/0 SB, .438 BABIP

Ronnie Mauricio (6/11/19)
Steve Sypa

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, breaking the club record previously held by fellow Dominican shortstop Amed Rosario. The talented youngster made his professional debut in 2018, suiting up for the GCL Mets and getting into 49 games down in Florida, hitting .279/.307/.421. The 17-year-old was promoted to the Kingsport Mets to end the season and got into 8 games for them, hitting .233/.286/.333.

He was assigned to the Columbia Fireflies for the 2019 season, an aggressive assignment for the youngster. Born on April 4, 2001, the recently-turned-18-year-old is the youngest player in the South Atlantic League by a considerable margin, Triston Casas being the next closest having been born on January 15, 2000. Generally speaking, when a player in a situation like that can tread water and hold his own, it is generally seen as a successful year. Mauricio has more than held his own, leading the team in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage among players with more than 100 at-bats with a .295 /.339/.401 hitting line. Named a South Atlantic League All-Star for the 2019 season, his batting average is tied for 15th in the league along with Charleston RiverDogs Josh Breaux catcher/DH Josh Breaux.

At the plate, Mauricio holds his hands high, barring his bat behind his head. He swings with a slight leg kick and moderate stride, whipping the bat through the zone. A switch hitter, his bat path from the right side is smooth and level, while it has a bit more uppercut to it from the left side. As is the case in young switch hitters that are still developing their swings, this is opposite to his swing last season, in extended spring training, with the GCL Mets, and with the Kingsport Mets, when it was more level from the left-side and more uppercutty from the right.

In the field, Mauricio reads the ball well off the bat and shows good reaction times and the instincts to be a successful shortstop. His range is solid for a shortstop, and he has soft hands, a quick transfer, and possesses a plus arm. He has gained a step or two as compared to reports last season and is a fringe-average runner, posting first-to-home times between 4.30 and 4.35 as a right-hander and 4.20 to 4.25 as a left-hander. The 18-year-old is very leggy and lanky, and there is concern that he may put on enough muscle in the years to come to force him off of shortstop. As long as Mauricio remains athletic, he should be able to stay on the position for the long-term future regardless of how much he fills in.

Pitcher of the Week

Chris Mazza

2019 Season: 11 G (11 GS), 66.2 IP, 57 H, 27 R, 24 ER (3.24 ERA), 18 BB, 57 K, .290 BABIP

Week: 2 G (2 GS), 13.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER (3.46 ERA), 4 BB, 15 K, .250 BABIP

Chris Mazza (6/15/19)

Chris Mazza seemed like an afterthought after he was selected by the Mets in the minor league portion of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft. Originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 27th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Mazza has toiled away in the minor leagues for years, his chances of making it to the MLB lessened by various injuries he’s sustained and the march of time. In 2013, his second year in professional baseball, he was limited to just 8.2 innings over 7 relief appearances with the Low-A Cedar Rapids Kernels because of ulnar nerve transposition surgery. He spent the 2014 with the Kernels once again and he had an excellent season, posting a 2.79 ERA in 48.1 innings, but improbably pitched the final few weeks of the season with a broken right wrist. Over the offseason, his wrist did not heal properly, turning into a scaphoid non-union fracture, which necessitated surgery to fuse the bones in his pitching wrist back together. As a result of that surgery, he was limited to just 18 relief appearances when he returned to the field in July. After a couple of rehab games, he was assigned back to the Kernels for a pair of games, but the Twins released him after only two games.

The Florida Marlins signed Mazza, assigning him to the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads where he finished out the season posting a 3.60 ERA in 15.0 innings over 11 relief appearances. In 2016, he started the season with the Hammerheads but was promoted to the Double-A Jacksonville Suns about a month into the season. In addition to the promotion, he also had his role changed, and for the first time in his career, Mazza was utilized as a starting pitcher. He fulfilled his part of the bargain and was a solid-if-unspectacular starter. As a starter, he posted a 3.76 ERA in 69.1 innings over 17 starts, allowing 66 hits, walking 25, and striking out 44. His 2017 was very similar, as he posted a 3.01 ERA in 146.2 innings over 26 starts and 2 relief appearances, allowing 138 hits, walking 41, and striking out 93. In 2018, he was assigned to the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes but was transitioned back into a relief role. He did not pitch particularly bad, he did not pitch particularly well either, and was sent back down to Double-A Jacksonville in early May.

After a pair of relief appearances, the Marlins tendered Mazza his release. He pitched in the Indies, playing for the San Rafael Pacifics of the Pacific Association and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League before signing with the Seattle Mariners at the end of the year. He was assigned to Double-A Arkansas Travelers and posted a 1.33 ERA in 27.0 innings over four starts to close out the season. After the Mets claimed Mazza in December, they initially assigned him to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. After posting a 3.42 ERA in 23.2 innings over four starts, the team promoted him to Syracuse Mets, where he has since posted a 3.14 ERA in 43.0 innings over 7 starts, allowing 31 hits, walking 10, and striking out 36.

Mazza has a solid pitching arsenal, but he doesn’t have any above-average or plus offerings. His main pitch is a sinker, but he has posted fairly pedestrian groundball rates over the last couple of years. He complements his sinker with a cutter, changeup, and slider. All three pitches are fringe-to-average offerings, but elicit strikeouts by speed or directional variations set up by his sinker.

Earlier in the year, it seemed difficult to imagine a path to the major leagues for Mazza. Having pitched well in Double-A and Triple-A, 29-year-old seems to have moved up the depth charts. With the struggles of other starters currently in Syracuse, combined with the Mets’ need for pitching in both the starting rotation and bullpen, Mazza finally getting his major league call up is still far from certain thing, but the odds have increased drastically since last December.

Past Players of the Week

Week One (April 4-April 13): Travis Taijeron/Chris Flexen

Week Two (April 14-April 20): Ronny Mauricio/Harol Gonzalez

Week Three (April 21-April 27): Danny Espinosa/Anthony Kay

Week Four (April 28-May 4): Will Toffey/Tommy Wilson

Week Five (May 5-May 11): Carlos Gomez/Harol Gonzalez

Week Six (May 12-May 18): Patrick Mazeika/Anthony Kay

Week Seven (May 19-May 25): Mark Vientos/Anthony Kay

Week Eight (May 26-June 1): Travis Taijeron/Harol Gonzalez

Week Nine (June 2-June 8): N/A

Week Ten: (June 9-June 15): Ronny Mauricio/Chris Mazza