International Reviews: New York Mets
Total 2017 signings: 28.
Top 2017-18 signing: SS Ronny Mauricio, Dominican Republic, $2.1 million.
During the first year of the international bonus pools, the Mets signed Amed Rosario for $1.75 million as a 16-year-old shortstop out of the Dominican Republic. In the first year under the hard capped pools, the Mets signed another Dominican shortstop considered to be one of the top prospects in the 2017 international class, giving Ronny Mauricio $2.1 million. When Mauricio signed from Carlos Guzman’s program, he was 6-foot-2, 165 pounds, with a high waist and long arms on a skinny frame with a ton of space to fill out and add strength. Since then, Mauricio has not only gotten stronger, he’s also grown two inches to 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, with a frame that could hold another 15-30 pounds.
Mauricio impressed scouts with his blend of physical upside, hitting ability and instinctive defense. He has a loose, smooth swing from both sides of the plate with quick, whippy bat speed. Despite his long arms, Mauricio keeps his hands inside the ball well and makes consistent contact. Mauricio drove the ball well for his size before he signed without much effort, and getting stronger since then has helped him generate more power. He shows that power especially from the left side, where his swing generates more loft than his righthanded stroke, which is geared more for hard line drives.
Mauricio is a below-average runner, and with his size and how big he could get in the future, there is some risk he could outgrow shortstop. However, several scouts believe he can stay there, as he shows all the actions and instincts for the position. Mauricio has quick reactions off the bat with good range, a sharp internal clock and a nose for the ball. He has good body control, making plays to both sides and coming in on the ball, showing easy actions, soft hands and a quick exchange to get to his plus arm. If everything clicks, Mauricio could develop into a player along the lines of what Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is showing right now. He’s advanced enough that he will likely start his career in one of the Mets’ Rookie-level clubs in the United States.
Dominican center fielder Adrian Hernandez, who signed for $1.5 million, has explosiveness in his tool set, with his tools more developed than his game skills right now. Whereas Mauricio has a long, skinny frame, Hernandez is a more physically mature with a strong, compact build (6 feet, 195 pounds) and quick-burst acceleration in his actions. That shows in his supremely quick bat speed, with Hernandez flashing above-average raw power in batting practice. He will show glimpses of it in games, especially against fastballs, but he’s still working to smooth out a righthanded swing that has some stiffness to it and can get in and out of the hitting zone too quickly. Hernandez will have to make adjustments against breaking pitches, though he has shown a solid eye discerning balls from strikes.
Hernandez has well above-average speed underway, though with his body type he could slow down in the coming years. He needs to improve his reads and routes in center field, where he has an average arm, but he has the speed to outrun some of his mistakes. Hernandez plays with an aggressive, hard-nosed energy that can be a positive at times, but he’s still learning to corral it and play under control in all aspects of the game. Hernandez, who trained with Nube, is likely to debut in the Dominican Summer League.
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The Mets paid $500,000 to sign Dominican center fielder Stanley Consuegra on July 2. Consuegra is built like a wide receiver with a long, lean and athletic frame at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds. Consuegra initially trained as a shortstop with Edgar Mercedes, but before signing moved to center field. His tools fit well in center, where his high-end athleticism sticks out with plus speed and a 70 arm coming from a loose, clean throwing motion. A righthanded hitter, Consuegra’s swing is geared toward hitting low-trajectory line drives, which are usually loud with good carry off his bat. Consuegra has shown good bat-to-ball skills but he can get a little rigid with his trigger, so he has worked to try to loosen that up in an attempt to drive more balls in the air. He has made a strong enough impression that he has a chance to debut in the U.S., though the DSL could be his starting point.
Venezuelan righthander David Marcano signed with the Mets for $500,000 when he turned 16 on Aug. 28. Had he been born four days later, Marcano would have been a 2018 prospect, so he is one of the youngest players in the 2017 class. Marcano has represented his country at international tournaments on multiple occasions, including a good showing at the 15U World Cup in 2016 in Japan, where he threw in the mid-80s. Marcano’s velocity grew after that tournament, touching 92 mph with heavy action prior to signing. He’s been up to 93 mph, and with his projectable frame (6-foot-3, 180 pounds), big hands and feet, he should grow into a lot more strength and throw harder.
Marcano shows feel for a breaking ball that shows traditional curveball shape early in the count at 73-75 mph, then adds power to it when he gets to two strikes to use as a putaway pitch. The curveball has above-average potential and is more advanced than his changeup. Marcano does need to improve his location, but he’s an excellent athlete for a pitcher with good arm action in the back and extension out front. Marcano trained with Francisco Ortiz.
Dominican shortstop Federico Polanco signed with the Mets for $325,000 on July 2. Polanco is a cousin of Mauricio, and the two grew up playing baseball together in San Pedro de Macoris. Polanco, who trained with Juan Rodriguez, was 5-foot-11 when he signed but has grown to 6-foot-1, 160 pounds. His best tool is his lefthanded bat. He’s still skinny and showing doubles power right now, but he makes frequent contact with good bat speed, displays solid instincts and a has mature two-strike approach for his age. His defensive tools aren’t as advanced but he has a chance to develop into an offensive-oriented second baseman.
It’s hard to miss Junior Santos, a 16-year-old Dominican righthander who signed for $275,000 in September. Santos was 6-foot-6 when he signed and is now 6-foot-8 and athletic for his size. Not that there are many pitchers as big as Santos, but while a lot of young, extra-tall pitchers are raw projects, Santos separates himself by already showing feel for three pitches. He throws a fastball that has touched 92 mph, a low-80s slider with good bite and a changeup with good sink and run. That gives him the makings of a starter’s repertoire with promising upside if everything clicks.
Eduardo Salazar, a 17-year-old Venezuelan outfielder, signed for $125,000 on July 2, is 6-foot-3, 180 pounds with room to add another 30 or so pounds. His best tool is his righthanded bat, with a loose swing and consistent bat-to-ball skills in games. Salazar has the frame to grow into more power once he gets stronger and better incorporates his lower half into his swing to leverage the ball. He’s a corner outfielder with an average arm and trained with Carlos Rios.