For the second year in a row, I find myself outmaneuvered by my nimbler colleagues at Amazin’ Avenue and left with the cosmic-joke choice of either writing about a prospect—a task for which any number of others are undoubtedly better-suited—or nothing at all. Because it is spring training, and because I genuinely love both the fine humans of this website and our New York Mets, I opted for the former. Indeed, I opted to offer up a season preview of none other than Ronny Mauricio.
Ronny Mauricio is only 21 years old and hasn’t yet played above the Double-A level, but he’s one of those prospects who feels like he’s been around forever. Mauricio signed with the Mets as an international free agent in July 2017 at the age of 16, which feels like a lifetime ago to me—and probably to him, too. As Amazin’ Avenue’s own prospect writers (among others) have noted, the Dominican Republic-born shortstop was considered one of the top international free agents at the time. That kind of narrative hype, taken together with the ponderous expectations baked into each of the $2.1 million Mauricio received as a signing bonus, strikes me as a hell of a lot of pressure for a 16-year-old to live up to.
Savvy time travelers from 2017 may not be surprised to learn, therefore, that Mauricio is now something of a Rorschach test for prospect-enthusiast Mets fans. The apparent consensus on Mauricio among the many smart and well-informed prospect analysts on this and other outlets seems to be that he is in possession of a tantalizing, ultimately limiting set of skills. The power is clearly there, the defense is there—probably not at shortstop, but that’s hardly a crime. But, critically, even passable pitch recognition skill and swing decision skills are not. If Mauricio can meaningfully improve in those respects, then he suddenly becomes a guy who cuts an exciting profile with a bright future in waiting. That’s an awfully big “if,” however: he hasn’t done it yet—at all—and he’s only going to face tougher pitching from now on. Moreover, Mauricio’s conspicuous absence from this year’s various top 100-or-so prospects lists surely indicates something about his odds of doing so.
Having said all that wet-blanket stuff, Mets fans are perfectly entitled to be stoked and hopeful about Mauricio. He’s just a kid, after all, and it isn’t totally out of the question that he figures some things out and makes some adjustments. You hope he does! Besides, if he keeps doing what he’s been doing, more or less, he’ll probably get a crack at the majors at some point. In the meantime, Mauricio is on the Mets’ 40-man roster, though surely bound for Syracuse, where it seems likely he will spend the entire season. One ardently hopes that the health situation in Queens remains sufficiently stable such that the Mets do not even remotely require his services this year. In the meantime, I will be rooting for him to take that elusive step forward in Syracuse.