NEW YORK — A chance at the Major League Baseball playoffs has become a distant memory for the Mets, but the calendar’s turn to September has provided at least one glimmer of excitement for the team’s fans.
The expansion of the rosters in September means a youth movement is on in Flushing. Ronny Mauricio is the latest attraction.
The 22-year-old infield prospect, who entered the weekend as the team’s No. 4 and league’s No. 78 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, delivered on the fan’s massive expectations once again on Saturday night at Citi Field.
Mauricio collected a pair of singles and earned a standing ovation with his first stolen base of his career in the bottom of the third inning.
The Mets fought back from three- and four-run deficits but came up short in a 8-7 loss to the Mariners in front of 31,480 fans a Citi Field.
Similar dispiriting issues still surfaced. Daniel Vogelbach was thrown out trying to stretch a ninth-inning leadoff single into a double.
“It’s like a long jump shot, if you make it, it’s this, and if you don’t, it’s these questions,” Showalter said. “I’m more thinking about leaving a man on second and nobody out a couple of times and didn’t execute getting those runs home.”
“I felt like I was in a good spot, physically, stuff wise, everything, I felt like I could keep going but (Showalter) made the decision to go to the bullpen,” Peterson said.
A bright spot was Mauricio, who is an unknown commodity at the major-league level. The switch hitter has flashed his free-swinging ways and explosive bat during his first few games.
Ronny Mauricio’s electric start
In his first major-league shot, the Dominican Republic native has had a fairy-tale start. One night after cracking a 117.3 mph double – the hardest-hit ball for any Mets player this season – Mauricio ripped a 110 mph single up the middle.
Mauricio is the seventh Met ever to have two straight multi-hit games to begin their career and the first since Josh Thole in 2009.
There’s plenty of polishing left to do. Despite going 4-for-7 to start his career, Mauricio struck out on three pitches on Friday and fanned on a slider in the dirt on Saturday. Mauricio, who is a natural shortstop, has only spent half a season learning the ropes at second base and in the outfield.
For Buck Showalter, it starts with defense.
“I think when we’re at our best, we can move the pieces around and not sacrifice defense,” Showalter said. “We really hope to get to that again or where you can DH (Francisco) Lindor and you can you know move Jeff (McNeil) around and keep people. You don’t sacrifice defense when you do that.”
It may not be sustainable but Mauricio will have his chance to make a strong impression over the final month of the season.
That’s the same deal for the remainder of the Mets rookies.
Throughout the 2023 season, the Mets have gained their first impressions of what Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty and Mark Vientos can do over sustained playing time.
Alvarez, who has earned the starting catcher role this season, has 21 home runs in 102 games, but he’s slashing just .212/.286/.429. Down the stretch, Baty, who returned on Friday after a monthlong stay in Syracuse, and Vientos will have a chance to prove they belong at third base to begin the 2024 season.
“It’s kind of give and take,” Showalter said before Saturday’s game. “Somebody gets going good, you’re trying to get them all to a good place.”
After Baty singled in his first game back on Friday night, Vientos had one of his best offensive performances on Saturday. Vientos finished 2-for-3 with a 438-foot solo home run and a walk but then he came up hobbling while running in the eighth inning and was removed from the game with right foot soreness.
“We just didn’t like where we were in the batting order and him being able to move out there in case the ball was hit or what have you,” Showalter said. “We didn’t want to take any chances.”
Vientos also made a diving stop to rob Jose Caballero of a hit in the bottom of the third but made a throwing error in sixth inning.
DJ Stewart continues to impress
With the Mets trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, DJ Stewart drew the Mets back even with one swing of the bat.
Stewart belted a first-pitch fastball from Luis Castillo for a game-tying three-run home run to straightaway center field. It was Stewart’s fourth home run in as many games and ninth long ball in the last 15 games. During that stretch, Stewart has also scored 10 runs and driven in 18 more.
The 29-year-old outfielder, who is also playing for a spot past this season, laid out to make an impressive diving catch to rob Sam Haggerty of a hit in the top of the eighth inning.
Francisco Lindor also joined elite company with a two-run home run in the sixth inning. The blast that nestled inside the left-field foul pole helped Lindor became the first Mets player since 2008 to record 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases in a season, joining Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Howard Johnson and Darryl Strawberry.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NY Mets: Ronny Mauricio continues to electrify fans with second big game
Source: Yahoo Sports