Ronny Mauricio Keeps Impressing In GCL

Image credit: Ronny Mauricio (Photo by Tom Dipace)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Ronny Mauricio is having no trouble adjusting to the world of professional baseball. Just more than a year after signing his first professional contract, the 17-year-old is tearing up the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. 

“I feel very comfortable,” Mauricio said, with help of a translator. “I feel good right now. I thought it would be a little tougher . . . I’m just trying to get good pitches to hit and put them in play.”

In that regard, especially, Mauricio has been incredibly successful. 

He’s notched a circuit-best 38 hits over his first 27 games, and his .345 average ranks seventh in the league. He opened his pro career with a 22-game hitting streak, and has gone hitless in just two games so far this season. He drew a walk in one of those games, meaning that he’s failed to reach base only once this season as one of the youngest players in the league. 

Still, the numbers aren’t what most impress his manager. It’s the way he comports himself on a day-to-day basis. 

“It’s the way he takes care of business, the way he practices,” GCL Mets manager David Davilillo said. “He takes that to the game.”

Mauricio was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect available on the 2017 international market, behind only Rays wunderkind Wander Franco and Daniel Flores, who signed with the Red Sox before dying suddenly following complications involving treatment for cancer

The Mets regarded Mauricio highly enough to sign him out of the Dominican Republic for $2.1 million, breaking their previous record for an international bonus of $1.7 million, which was given to current big league shortstop Amed Rosario

Mauricio kept up his hot hitting on July 20 in a game against the GCL Nationals, carding two hits, including a single of off Nationals righthander Jake Irvin. Irvin, whom the Nationals drafted in the fourth round this year out of Oklahoma, is more than four years older than Mauricio. Nationals righthander Fausto Segura is even older than Irvin, and Mauricio reached him for a ringing double. 

Facing more experienced competition is nothing new for Mauricio. In fact, his manager believes it’s part of the reason he’s been able to be so good, so quickly.

“In the Latin countries, we play games against older people,” Davilillo explained. “He got that experience, and he got better when he played with the older people. In Venezuela and the Dominican, they play against older people, and he got better.”

The Mets have already promoted this year’s first-round selection — prep outfielder Jarred Kelenic to the Rookie-level Appalachian League — and Mauricio would very much like to join him as soon as possible. If he keeps hitting like he has throughout the first month of his pro career, it might just happen.

NOTES: Mets righthander Michel Otañez, 21, showed a live arm but rusty command on Friday. The tall Dominican sat in the mid-90s for most of his outing and touched as high as 97 mph with a fastball that featured heavy sink and tail. His secondaries—a slider and a changeup—were inconsistent, but his arm was intriguing nonetheless.

The Nationals started righthander Reid Schaller, whom the team chose out of Vanderbilt in the third round of this year’s draft. Schaller missed his freshman year with Tommy John surgery then was the rare draft-eligible redshirt freshman. He mainly used a fastball in the 92-94 mph range that featured explosive boring life in on righthanders, as well as a tight slider that registered a spin rate in the 2,600-rpm range. He also threw an upper-80s changeup that needed more development.

Wilfred Astudillo, the brother of Twins utilityman Willians Astudillo, started at catcher for the Mets. In true Astudillo fashion, he neither walked nor struck out.

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