The Mets' Ronny Mauricio rounds the bases on his two-run...

The Mets' Ronny Mauricio rounds the bases on his two-run home run against the Diamondbacks during the fourth inning of an MLB game at Citi Field on Tuesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

This is a turbulent time to be wearing a Mets uniform, with a new president of baseball operations assuming control at season’s end, but one thing remained constant before Wednesday night’s game against the Diamondbacks.

Brett Baty and Mark Vientos were again taking grounders at third base, the field otherwise empty as the Mets had canceled batting practice. They’ve been doing the same drill since February in Port St. Lucie. The irony is that neither one might end up being the Mets’ best young option for the position, which is why Ronny Mauricio needs to start getting some reps over there ASAP. 

Buck Showalter keeps promising to move Mauricio around -- he spent time at second base (56 games), shortstop (27), leftfield (26) and third (2) at Triple-A Syracuse -- but he’s been anchored as Francisco Lindor’s double-play partner for his first 10 games at this level. The early strategy makes sense. Better to get him acclimated in a comfortable spot, especially with his limited defensive ability.

But the Mets switched to evaluation mode long ago. And with only 17 games left, the remaining chunk of September should be used to give Mauricio a somewhat extended look at a position that is fast becoming the Mets’ greatest area of need. So far, he’s survived at second base -- no small feat, considering the team’s concerns about his glove.

A crisis, however, is developing at third, where Baty and Vientos are potentially playing themselves out of the Mets’ future this season. Baty had a pair of singles in Wednesday’s 7-1 victory over the Diamondbacks, but was forced to come out in the seventh inning due to left groin soreness. He was scheduled for more tests Thursday morning, and with his status in doubt, that could create a convenient opening for Mauricio. As for Vientos, he drilled a two-run homer Wednesday, his fifth in 49 games.

The Mets handed Baty the full-time job by trading veteran Eduardo Escobar to the Angels in late June and he responded by earning himself a demotion by early August. Vientos is a DH that doesn’t hit like one (59 OPS-plus), and that leaves Mauricio -- the biggest thumper of the three, but a bat without a palatable position.

Mauricio’s audition at third base is likely to begin this weekend when the Reds roll into Citi Field, assuming he feels better by then. He was out of Wednesday’s lineup due to flu-like symptoms, but the illness didn’t appear to sap any strength the previous night, when Mauricio hammered his first career homer halfway up the second deck of the Coca-Cola Corner.


The 440-foot blast had an exit velocity of 112.4 mph, and the only other Mets to hit a ball that far, that fast in the Statcast era (since 2015) were Pete Alonso and Yoenis Cespedes. After what we’ve seen from Mauricio during this short sample size, it wasn’t all that surprising.

Mauricio’s first major-league hit, in his debut plate appearance, was a 117.3-mph double, which ranks as the seventh highest exit velo recorded in MLB this season. Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. is No. 1 at 121.2 mph. Aaron Judge’s top speed? 116.9. Overall, Mauricio’s average exit velocity sits at 91.9 mph, putting him at 64th in the majors -- tied with three-time MVP Mike Trout and teammate Brandon Nimmo.

“I prepared myself in Triple-A all year and knew I’d be up here at some point,’’ Mauricio said through an interpreter. “I expect a lot of myself and know I’m a good ballplayer. I expected for me to contribute.”

Now it’s just a matter of where. Mauricio is hitting .306 (11-for-36) with two doubles, four stolen bases and a .787 OPS. That’s a tiny sample to consider. But when compared to what Baty’s done since his Sept. 1 return from Syracuse, batting .176 (6-for-34) with zero extra-base hits and 12 strikeouts, it’s understandable why the Mets are growing skeptical.

Especially in light of Showalter’s pregame media briefing Wednesday, when the manager -- unprompted -- read off a slip of paper listing the games played by the prospects currently on the roster. Francisco Alvarez had the most, at 114 games, and he’s soared up the learning curve this season. Next was Baty at 107, the only player’s total Showalter mentioned twice, the assumption being that his production (.205 BA, .589 OPS) wasn’t matching up to the opportunity. Now Mauricio deserves more of a chance.

“He’s capable of going really to three other places,” Showalter said of Mauricio. “But that’s one that would be considered. It affects other people, so then you’ve got to weigh who’s in more need of it. But I would like to get him over to another position. Just to eyeball it for a day or two.”

Mauricio should be the priority at this late stage. The Mets delayed his long-awaited promotion to help further his development, and now that he’s here, Mauricio is the one prospect they need to see more. Particularly at third base, where the results have been inconclusive at best, and worrisome otherwise.


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