The Mets are no longer participating in the MLB postseason, but that doesn’t mean the season is over for everyone. Top prospect Ronny Mauricio is playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic, and the 21-year-old is raking right now.
Could that be helpful to New York as the organization enters a pivotal offseason full of tough decisions?
The young shortstop spent the entirety of his 2022 campaign in Double-A with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. He posted a decent offensive performance, slashing .259/.296/.472 with 54 extra-base hits (26 doubles, two triples, 26 homers), 89 RBI, 71 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases. Those were some of the best power and run-production numbers he’s put together since becoming a pro at the age of 17.
Mauricio is spending time playing ball in the Dominican for Tigres del Licey again. He posted a .643 OPS with two homers and eight RBI in 94 plate appearances last offseason. It’s been a whole different story so far this year.
He’s slashing .441/.487/.735 with two homers, four doubles, 11 RBI, five steals, and seven runs scored in 39 plate appearances. According to Michael Mayer of Metsmerzied Online, the shortstop is leading the league in steals, hits, and RBI. His 1.222 OPS currently ranks second.
One of his two homers was a little more exciting than usual because it was an inside-the-parker:
WAOOOOO ?‼️‼️ Ronny Mauricio conecta HR de piernas ? y el estadio Quisqueya se quiere caer.
— Banda_azul_Liceista (@BandaAzulTL) October 23, 2022
Mauricio has been a highlight in the Mets’ minor-league system since getting signed in 2017 for $2.1 million. If that wasn’t enough of a head-turner, the 20-game hitting streak he enjoyed to begin his pro career certainly did it.
The switch-hitting infielder will all but likely begin 2023 in Triple-A Syracuse next spring. However, MLB Pipeline has tabbed the Mets’ sixth-best prospect with an estimated time of arrival in the big leagues as early as next season.
As we know with the Mets, they’re set at shortstop with Francisco Lindor for the remainder of this decade. So, if Mauricio were to stick with New York, it’d have to be at a different position.
He’s willing to do that, but the infield looks a bit crowded at the moment. What New York does this winter with the big-league roster could have an impact on Mauricio’s future with the club.
Outside of Lindor, the Mets also have Pete Alonso at first base, Jeff McNeil at second (and other positions), Eduardo Escobar at third, and another top prospect who made his debut in 2022, third baseman Brett Baty. So, Mauricio could be blocked at not only shortstop but also at third base. And if the Mets sign a free-agent hitter that plays the infield (*cough* Trea Turner *cough*), second base could be blocked.
Mauricio is not just a top prospect within the Mets’ organization. He’s a top prospect in all of baseball. Ahead of 2022, he ranked within the top 100 for Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB. New York’s inaction at the deadline came back to haunt them. We know Billy Eppler and Co. will keep that thinking moving forward. But they can’t hold onto all of their top prospects, right?
Eppler did say in July that things can change depending on the landscape. Well, a bit has changed for the Mets between then and now. They’re still in win-now mode, though, and unless something drastic happens, Mauricio could be the odd man out.
Francisco Alvarez isn’t going anywhere and it doesn’t seem like Brett Baty is, either. The Mets can patch up their roster holes through free agency thanks to Steve Cohen, but that won’t be the only way they do it. Maybe they make a trade to address the lack of offensive thump or the empty pitching staff spots.
Mauricio is young and appears to have a bright future. The tools he brings to the table have been on full display for years, and it’s continued during Winter League play. Will he eventually land in the big leagues with the Mets or another team? This is just another intriguing question New York will answer with the moves that get made in the coming months.