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Mauricio goes yard (again)
Another day. Another moonshot by Ronny Mauricio. The young prospect has three home runs in seven spring at-bats. He is absolutely crushing the ball. His latest bomb landing 413 feet from home plate. With three long balls, he is tied with Roman Quinn and former Mets prospect Jarred Kelenic for the most this spring. I will talk more about this at the top.
Later, I will dive into Tylor Megill’s curveball experimentation and why it is an important pitch for him. Of course, we will also catch you up on the latest news.
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🔥 EN FUEGO: After downplaying Ronny Mauricio’s early spring success, it’s time to give him credit, right?
Of course! I don’t care what time of year it is or whom you are facing, hitting three balls nearly a quarter of a mile in combined distance deserves praise. After winning MVP of the Dominican Winter League and launching 26 homers in Double-A last season, Mauricio is proving he is ready to take the next step in Syracuse.
🤷♂️ Still, I can’t help myself. I have to highlight the pitch he hit out yesterday:
Look at where that fastball was located! Double-A arm Sean Reynolds tried his hardest to avoid the strike zone, throwing three pitches nobody has any business turning into damage, and Mauricio said, I don’t care, I’m going to make you pay for offering me a fastball anywhere close to my hit zone.
Had this pitch come from a major league hurler with more velocity or ride perhaps it turns into a swing-and-miss. That’s what we still need to find out. We’ve seen Mauricio hit pitches like this in the minors:
We’ve also seen him whiff on these offerings. That’s part of the reason he had a 33% strikeout rate in 2021.
😁 But, how do you ignore his progress? Remember, his K rate was down 10 percent last season. Even before his torrid winter stretch, he was showing improved pitch recognition. We’ve seen him hit fastballs and a changeup this spring. It would be great to see him put a breaking ball into the gap or over the wall before we allow our excitement to leap to the next level. But I’m not going to rain on his parade after what he’s done over the past few days.
As we previewed yesterday, Tylor Megill has been experimenting with a curveball to include as a more regular pitch in his repertoire. We got to see a glimpse of it yesterday, albeit through data instead of on television.
Why does he want to perfect his curveball?
“For the most part, it’s being able to throw it down the middle and be able to get a strike or be able to get a reaction,” Megill told reporters yesterday. “That’s the main goal. It’s putting it in the back of their head that I have a curveball so they can second-guess the other pitches.”
Megill has been working on his curveball after receiving advice from Max Scherzer, who told him to make sure he had three really good pitches before worrying about adding a fourth. Megill definitely has two. But I would argue the fact he hasn’t perfected a third is why he is trying to tinker with another.
The tall, right-hander showed flashes of brilliance last year before his fastball, slider, changeup mix proved short of being able to guide him through diverse major-league lineups.
I’m fascinated by his fastball. He throws it hard (~96 mph, touching 99 at some points), he locates it well, and he generates swinging strikes similar to (ahem) Jacob deGrom (~15%). In fact, only one qualified starter (George Kirby) had a higher zone percentage while earning a swinging strike rate above 15% last season.
Combine that with a slider that opposing hitters hit to an anemic .152 slugging percentage last year, and you have a pretty good recipe for success.
That is, when you are facing right-handed hitters.
As the San Francisco Giants exposed last season, where Megill struggles is against lefties. His changeup hasn’t been good enough to properly offset his sneaky good fastball, creating a necessity to perfect that curveball.
🔻 BOTTOM LINE: Against righties, his changeup gives him an east-west component, along with his slider that he can locate down in the zone. He is missing that north-south action against lefties. They know he isn’t going to put them away with his slider, so they can lock in on his fastball. By mixing in a curveball, as Megill noted, it will keep lefties honest, which should boost the performance of his primary pitches. Something we will keep an eye on as we see a larger sample.
📺 MUST WATCH TV: The Mets and Cardinals game on Monday afternoon was the most-watched spring training broadcast in seven years, averaging 423,000 viewers, according to ESPN. I guess that Super Bowl ad worked!
TIME TO CATCH: Francisco Álvarez will start to see in-game catching duties on Friday. The Mets’ top prospect has been limited to DH in the early going as the team gave him a little extra time to recover from surgery on his right ankle.
Meanwhile, Darin Ruf is not expected to play until Tuesday, at the earliest.
⏎ QUICK REBOUND: Brett Baty made a throwing error after entering the game in the fifth inning yesterday, but immediately followed that up with a strong throw. “I’m proud of the play he made following the throwing error,’’ manager Buck Showalter said. “It was textbook on a real difficult play. We’re all gonna have [mistakes], it’s how you come back from it. He’s gonna be fine at third base.”
👮♂️ NEW RULES: Francisco Lindor is having fun adjusting to the new rules. “I look to my left and I’ve got a lot of ground to cover,” Lindor said. “I look to my right and I’ve got a lot of ground to cover.
“I know I don’t have to go past second base, so I don’t have to look at a card,” he continued. “Before I was looking at the card, like, ‘Am I gonna be on the other side? Am I staying on this side?’ So now it’s like, I got my limits that I can’t go to. So I know lefty and I know he’s gonna pull the ball, I play behind second base a little bit more to the right.”
🌎 WBC BUDDIES: Pete Alonso will get a chance to play alongside his former high school teammate Kyle Tucker in the World Baseball Classic. “Pete is still one of the best hitters in the game and he was just like that in high school,” Tucker said, via the NY Post. “In high school, you could tell he was a real good player, but he was more of a raw player, but he just worked so hard at his game and he loves this game and that is why he wants to be one of the better players in the league.”
🤠 NO REGRETS: Michael Conforto has no regrets about how his time ended with the Mets: “I look back, but I don’t look back with any regret,” Conforto told the NY Post. “You can always look back and say it’s all bad. But I definitely can’t look back with regret. I’m happy where I’m at.” The former Met will return to Citi Field with the Giants on June 30.
👏 FAN OF THE DAY: A vociferous Mets fan sitting behind the dugout on Wednesday received the lineup card from Buck Showalter. “He deserved it,” Showalter said. “To bring that energy level for nine innings and be that big a Mets fan, he should come out of here with something.”
👀 CAPTAIN: Look who is in Port St. Lucie:
◾️ Spring training batting averages and runs are up amid shift limits.
◾️ The Padres signed Rougned Odor to a minor league deal.
🔗 How Mets will mix in six-man rotation: ‘You’ve got to understand your personnel’, by Tim Britton, The Athletic ($): “While the Mets won’t run a six-man rotation for the entirety of the season, they’ve dissected their schedule already to figure out the best places to insert Peterson, Megill or a different depth starter to give their regular quintet an extra breather. Basically any point in the schedule where New York plays on more than 10 consecutive days, you can expect a sixth starter to be considered and probably deployed.”
🔗 Zach Greene believes his 'conviction fastball' will help him make Mets, by Tim Healey, Newsday: “Greene has a running joke with another Mets reliever, Stephen Ridings, his friend and fellow ex-Yankees farmhand, about their respective velocities. Ridings can reach triple-digits. Greene can’t. ‘I’ve always messed with him that he might throw 100, but my conviction adds 10 miles an hour,’ Greene said. ‘So I actually throw harder than him.’”
🔗 Mets Prospect Grant Hartwig Has an Unusual Background and an East-West Arsenal, by David Laurila, FanGraphs: “Grant Hartwig is one of the most promising under-the-radar prospects in the New York Mets system. Moreover, he has one of the more unusual profiles in professional baseball. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2021, the 25-year-old right-hander has a degree in microbiology and premedical studies from Oxford, Ohio’s Miami University, and he has worked as a medical assistant in a Detroit-area cardiovascular clinic. He also excels on the mound. Pitching at four levels last year in his first full professional season, Hartwig logged a 1.75 ERA with 13 saves and 83 strikeouts in 56-and-two-thirds innings.”
And we close this one out with Francisco Lindor…
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I am gonna remind you Jeffrey that these games, and those homers, don't count. With respect to Mr. Mauricio who may or may not read this and take it personally - great Meme work, sir - his value to the club is down and continues to decrease. He is 90 on Fangraph's top 100. He's 56 on ESPN and 87 on Athletic. He's off Baseball America's top 100. He's off MLB's top 100 and was replaced by Ramirez. He's high on the Network lists b/c McDaniel and Law continue to excuse his bad strike zone, awkward body development, and defense at short or third or left field, along with multiple seasons of poor metrics for age. I no longer buy the age rationale. There's too much data on him.
The only value Mauricio has is trade bait - especially now his Guardian Angel Sandy is gone and can't block any trade that includes him in it, or even in the conversation. Mauricio has been blocked at MLB level for multiple years (even before Lindor) at SS, and he's been blocked in OF and 3B when attempting to change positions by MLB FAs or better home grown bench players or better performing prospects like Baty and Ramirez. Mauricio did miss a year of baseball games in 2020, but NOT development because he was an alternate site player. He's made the AFL a couple years in a row. His fall from grace as a top 15 on the top 100 MLB prospects and from #1 down the top 30 Mets prospect lists since 2020, 2021 has been minimally discussed given the surprise, upside and MLB promotion of Vientos and Alvarez who all got cups of coffee and hit homers in the majors last year.
Mauricio has to go. I understand and agree with Cohen and Eppler that a developed, consistent farm system is the ideal path to sustainability. The only value keeping Mauricio has is to collectively score higher as a farm system on ratings. He has no growth potential with the Mets. Yes, he's a good international signing. Yes he bolsters our overall status, but hey, why not trade him when he still has value to replenish the farm and dump a salary like Ruf's? Do it now if we're not getting rid of Ruf yet. If the Mets want to have a better system, don't we need to replenish the depth we forfeited by drafting 'random cheap college senior with no analytical benefits' rounds 3-15 or 3-22 under Alderson and BVW for the last 12 years?
Fun one. I see your point about Ronnie…but other guys aren’t doing what you (rightfully) say would be harder against MLB arms. There have been some pretty amazing bad-ball hitters over the years. Intriguing to see where this goes. It would be fun to hear how experts who see what you see evaluate his ongoing efforts to deal with the pitch selection/strikeout syndrome.
Loved Hartwig nugget. I love the guys who have fascinating off-field stories. As a 10 year old in 1969 I heard about Dr. Ron Taylor, a Met relief pitcher who got his medical degree along the way. As Consul General in Toronto I later met him while he was team doctor for the Jays. He had been a fireballing starter who morphed into a tricky reliever. More interestingly, his big arm supported a huge brain. He studied medicine AFTER an engineering degree didn’t convince him. Makes you wonder about God’s fairness: big league arm, engineer, doctor. AND he was more humble and gracious than most folks with any 3 of these accomplishments. Gotta luv it.