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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Twenty One

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, August 21st to August 27th?

Syracuse Mets v Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Ronny Mauricio
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Ronny Mauricio

Week: 6 G, 23 AB, .435/.536/.870, 10 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 BB, 4 K, 3/3 SB (Triple-A)

2023 Season: 114 G, 480 AB, .292/.347/.504, 140 H, 30 2B, 3 3B, 22 HR, 35 BB, 96 K, 24/30 SB, .325 BABIP (Triple-A)

In 2018, a rule was put in place that a player would no longer be eligible for Mets Minor League Player of the Week after winning for their fourth week. Known as “the McNeil Rule”, it was instituted because Jeff McNeil was having an extremely successful season- he was hitting .328/.406/.656 in 51 games through early June- would likely continue having an extremely successful season- he ended up hitting .341/.397/.508 in 100 more games split between Double-A, Triple-A, and the Mets- and it would not be fair to other players if McNeil and McNeil alone continued racking up Mets Minor League Players of the Week nods. Since then, there have been numerous players who have come extremely close, winning Mets Minor League Player of the Week for three weeks, but it is an extremely elite club of players who have been McNeil’ed. Well, folks, it has finally happened. Ronny Mauricio will be joining Mr. McNeil (2018) as well as Pete Alonso (2018), and Francisco Alvarez (2022) as the fourth member of the McNeil Club.

This was a tough week to have determine what player had the best week. Jett Williams had four consecutive multi-hit games, while Agustin Ruiz, Stanley Consuegra and Jeremy Jackson all had weeks where they hit three home runs apiece. As excellent as their weeks were, Mauricio had a week that was simply too good to overlook- he hit for average, he hit for extra bases, he got on base, and he stole bases.

Mauricio leads the league in hits, with 140, three ahead of Miguel Andujar and Connor Norby. Despite hitting .292/.347/.504 on the year, he only has a 106 wRC+, highlighting how heightened the offensive environment is in the International League this season. The league average for all 20 teams is an astounding .263/.358/.444, with the Charlotte Knights averaging .258/.333/.403 and the appropriately named Louisville Bats pacing the circuit with a team average .281/.379/.490.

When Mauricio is able to put good wood on ball, he can send it to the moon. On the season, he is averaging a 91 MPH exit velocity in 377 total batted ball events and a 97.9 MPH exit velocity on all hits. His singles have averaged 94.5 MPH, his doubles 101 MPH, his triples 104.3 MPH, and his home runs 105.9 MPH. He has logged 116 batted ball events with exit velocities over 100 MPH, 78 above 105 MPH, and 30 above 110 MPH, with his high water mark of the season being 116 MPH, a single off of Lehigh Valley IronPigs reliever Tyler McKay.

While no one has ever doubted Mauricio’s ability to punish the baseball, his aggressive approach and questionable swing decisions have held him back since physically maturing and coming into his own in 2021. Against fastballs (four-seam, two-seam, sinkers, and cutters), he is batting .347 with a .581 slugging percentage (883 pitches). Against changeups, he is batting .260 with a .402 slugging percentage (425 pitches). Against sliders, he is batting .235 with a .482 slugging percentage (358 pitches). Against curveballs, he is batting .133 with a .333 (162 pitches). His Whiff/Swing rate with fastballs (17.5%) is almost half what it is against changeups (26.9%), sliders, (34.5%), and curveballs (36.9%). Conversely, he too-often swings and makes poor contact against changeups, sliders, and curveballs, evidenced by the larger amount of ground balls or pop-ups per ball in play as opposed to fastballs. This has been the type of player Mauricio has always been, and at this point, is unlikely to improve considerably.

Unfortunately, Ronny does not have the defensive chops to make up for possibly fatal flaws in his bat. After never having had him play anywhere else besides for shortstop prior to this season, Mauricio has played second base, third base, and left field this season in addition to short. Of these new positions, Mauricio looks most at home at second base, but his strong arm is generally neutralized there. At third base, he has looked uncomfortable with quick reaction plays and ranging to his left. In the outfield, his routes to the ball are raw and need work. None of that is an indictment on Mauricio; it was apparent as far back as 2021 that Mauricio’s actions were getting clunky at short, and that his future was most likely at another position- especially with Francisco Lindor under contract for the next decade. The organization, for many reasons, was hesitant to move Mauricio to another position until this season, but had they done so earlier, the growing pains he is going through now and learning he is doing now likely would have ended and Mauricio more proficient at another position.

Tyler Stuart

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (Double-A)

2023 Season: 14 G (14 GS), 75.2 IP, 56 H, 14 R, 13 ER (1.55 ERA), 23 BB, 84 K, .204 BABIP (High-A)/7 G (7 GS), 35.0 IP, 34 H, 16 R, 14 ER (3.60 ERA), 9 BB, 28 K, .291 BABIP (Double-A)

Joander Suarez

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

2023 Season: 21 G (19 GS), 90.1 IP, 83 H, 59 R, 51 ER (5.08 ERA), 45 BB, 118 K, .344 BABIP (High-A)

With identical Game Scores (74), we have two Mets Minor League Player of the Week winners on the pitching side for the first time in over a year! Luis Moreno and Keyshawn Askew both earned the nod back in Week Sixteen of 2022 when the former threw six scoreless innings against the Hudson Valley Renegades as a member of the Cyclones, allowing 2 hits, walking 1, and striking out 7, while the latter threw 6 scoreless innings Palm Beach Cardinals as a member of the St. Lucie Mets, allowing 2 hits, walking 1, and striking out 8. The feat has happened only one other time before, way back in 2018 when Columbia Fireflies right-handers Chris Viall & Tony Dibrell had excellent weeks in late April, the third week of the season, against the Charleston RiverDogs. Viall allowed 2 runs on 5 hits in 5.1 innings, walking 2 and striking out 12, while Dibrell had exact same pitching line, except he struck out 11 instead.

Since his last Mets Minor League Player of the Week win, Tyler Stuart has struggled a bit. In his next two starts, the big right-hander pitched only four innings total, getting knocked out of both games early after allowing seven runs on seven hits over a single inning in his start against the Somerset Patriots on August 10th, and three runs on three hits over three innings in his start against the Portland Sea Dogs on August 16th. Stuart’s last strong start came against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and they were apparently just what the doctor ordered, as he faced them again this past week and found his lost mojo. The right-hander’s ERA on the season jumped from 1.70 to 2.32 as a result of those two poor starts, but six additional scoreless innings drop it to 2.20, and it remains the lowest in all starters in the affiliated minor leagues.

Joander Suarez, on the other hand, is getting his first Mets Minor League Player of the Week nod. Signed in May 2018 to a $10,000 at the end of the 2017-2018 international signing period window Suarez played for the Mets’ Dominican Summer League teams that year, posting a combined 4.35 ERA in 20.2 innings split between their two teams. The Mets brought him stateside in 2019, assigning him to the GCL Mets, and the 19-year-old posted a 1.79 ERA in 40.1 innings, allowing 27 hits, walking 16, and striking out 47.

He was promoted to St. Lucie in 2021, but the season turned out to be a lost year. He made six starts before landing on the injured list and needing Tommy John surgery in June. He returned to the mound a year later and threw 10.0 rehab innings in the Florida Complex League and 11.1 innings in the Florida State League. The 23-year-old right-hander was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones and so far this season has a 5.08 ERA in 90.1 innings, allowing 83 hits, walking 45, and striking out 118, tied for second-most in the South Atlantic League.

Suarez’s 6’3”, 225-pound frame is well proportioned and athletic. He throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot with a long arm action through the back. His pitching mechanics are simple and repeatable. Prior to Tommy John surgery, Suarez’s fastball sat in the low-90s, touching 93, 94 MPH, and since then, it has shown no real regression, sitting in the low-to-mid-90s, touching 95 MPH with an MLB average spin rate.

The right-hander complements his fastball with a curveball and changeup. Prior to his Tommy John surgery, his curveball was little more than a get-me-over pitch, but since returning, he has refined the offering into his best secondary pitch, high-70s-to-80 MPH offering with big 12-6 drop that projects as an average pitch. His changeup also projects as an average pitch, sitting in the mid-to-high-80s and featuring late fade and tumble. Both pitches are still developing, as his curveball loses its shape and his changeup gets firm, and he struggles to throw both for strikes consistently.

Players of the Week 2023

Week One (April 4-April 9): Ronny Mauricio/Jose Butto
Week Two (April 11-April 16): Ronny Mauricio/Joey Lucchesi
Week Three (April 18-April 23): Mark Vientos/Jordan Geber
Week Four (April 25-April 30): Mark Vientos/Nathan Lavender
Week Five (May 2-May 7): DJ Stewart/Mike Vasil
Week Six (May 9-May 14): Jose Peroza/Mike Vasil
Week Seven (May 16-May 21): Matt Rudick/David Peterson
Week Eight (May 23-May 28): DJ Stewart/Jose Chacin
Week Nine (May 29-June 4): Luke Ritter/Layonel Ovalles
Week Ten (June 5-June 11): Luke Ritter/Douglas Orellana
Week Eleven (June 12-June 18): Luke Voit/Joey Lucchesi
Week Twelve (June 19-June 25): Kevin Parada/Tyler Stuart
Week Thirteen (June 26-July 3): Jonathan Arauz/Blade Tidwell
Week Fourteen (July 4-July 9): Jefrey De Los Santos/Dominic Hamel
Week Fifteen (July 13-July 16): Abraham Almonte/Felipe De La Cruz
Week Sixteen (July 17-July 23): Stanley Consuegra/Christian Scott
Week Seventeen (July 24-July 30): Luke Voit/ Dominic Hamel
Week Eighteen (July 31-August 6): JT Schwartz/Tyler Stuart
Week Nineteen (August 7-August 13): Ronny Mauricio/Mike Vasil
Week Twenty (August 14-August 20): Jett Williams/Felipe De La Cruz