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Road to The Show™: Marlins’ Mesa Jr

Miami’s No. 4 prospect building toward big league debut at Triple-A
Victor Mesa Jr. clubbed a career-high 18 homers for Double-A Pensacola in 2023. (Joshua Tijong/
April 30, 2024

Each week, profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at fourth-ranked Marlins prospect Victor Mesa Jr. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here. It seems as though Victor Mesa Jr. is

Each week, profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at fourth-ranked Marlins prospect Victor Mesa Jr. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here.

It seems as though Victor Mesa Jr. is building on his breakout 2023 season during his first Triple-A action this year.

The Marlins’ No. 4 prospect opened the season on the injured list due to an ankle issue that also kept him out of the team’s Spring Breakout game. Following a three-game rehab stint with Single-A Jupiter, Mesa reported to Jacksonville.

Since his debut with the Jumbo Shrimp, he ranks second in the International League with 23 total hits and eighth with 39 total bases. During that span, Mesa is batting .319 with a .917 OPS, four homers and 14 RBIs.

Mesa has been a consistent hitter during his diligent climb up the Marlins’ Minor League ladder. He was added to the club’s 40-man roster in November and seems to be on the precipice of his big league debut.

The 22-year-old mixes impressive bat speed with a good-looking lefty stroke and an aggressive approach at the plate. His bat-to-ball skills are among the best in Miami’s system, and he was able to tap into his power last season, recording a personal-best 18 homers for Double-A Pensacola.

Defensively, MLB Pipeline grades his fielding ability as above average with a strong arm. He’s seen time at all three outfield positions, but has mainly stuck in center field. Since his debut in 2019, Mesa has recorded 30 outfield assists.

Although he wasn’t very productive in Grapefruit League games this spring while hampered with the ankle injury, the toolsy outfielder made a strong impression on his big league skipper.

“I think he was one of the most impressive of the young guys that came to camp, if not the most impressive, with the work he put in,” manager Skip Schumaker told in March. “His defense was as good as anybody's, and I think there's real upside in the swing. Him being a hit collector and not worrying about the power was really the message. The power is going to come. ... So him being a Gold Glove type of defender with a left-handed bat with a real hit tool, he can play in the Major Leagues a long time.”

The Havana, Cuba, native garnered some international acclaim long before he signed, thanks to his strong baseball bloodlines.

His father, Victor Mesa, won a gold medal for Cuba in the 1992 Olympics and was a star for 19 seasons in the Cuban National Series, the island’s top professional league. He also managed for 12 seasons in the CNS and served as the manager for Cuba in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

His brother, Victor Victor Mesa, played six seasons in the CNS, debuting as a 15-year-old in 2012, and starred for Cuba in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

When the two brothers were ready to sign in 2018, Victor Victor ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the international class. Mesa Jr. was not ranked among the international Top 30 that year. But he had a strong international career before signing.

As a 17-year-old switch hitter, he finished with the best average (.440), on-base percentage (.560) and slugging percentage (.667) in Cuba's 18-and-under league. He also batted .320 for Cuba’s 18U team in the 2017 World Cup.

The two brothers defected in May of 2018 and signed with the Marlins five months later. The Marlins made three trades to boost their international pool money to around $6.55 million to make the signings. Victor Victor, signed for $5.25 million while Mesa Jr. signed for $1 million. It was the most money the Marlins had spent on the international market since 1999, when the team spent $2 million to sign a 16-year-old from Venezuela named Jose Cabrera, who might be better known as future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera.

Since the brothers signed late in the period, they spent a lot of time in developmental leagues before making their Minor League debut. Mesa Jr., who abandoned switch hitting to bat exclusively as a lefty after signing, played his first MiLB game in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2019. He batted .284/.366/.398 with 14 extra-base hits and 24 RBIs in 47 games during his debut season.

After the pandemic, he made his full season debut with Jupiter in 2021. He had a decent year in the Florida State League, batting .266 with a .718 OPS, 21 doubles and 11 triples, which ranked third in the Minors. Mesa Jr. was the only teenager in MiLB with double-digit triples and doubles.

His strikeout rate also jumped from 14 percent in 2019 to nearly 22 percent during his first full season.

In 2022, he made the jump to High-A Beloit, where he finished with a .243 average and a .669 OPS. He hit five homers and 26 doubles while driving in 50 runs in 121 games.

The Marlins gave Mesa Jr. the opportunity to face advanced competition in the Arizona Fall League, where he, of course, played for the Mesa Solar Sox. He batted just .207 in 17 games there, but six of his 12 hits went for extra bases and he finished with a .744 OPS.

Mesa Jr. was not among the Marlins’ non-roster invitees in 2023. But he still made it into seven Grapefruit League games, contributing a walk-off homer in a mid-March game against the Astros.

He entered the 2023 season as the Marlins’ No. 14 prospect and climbed the ranks as he was able to tap into his power in Pensacola. His 18 homers were more than he hit from 2019-2022, combined. Mesa Jr. also tallied a career-high 44 extra-base hits and recorded a cycle in April, just one week after Luis Arraez became the first Marlin to hit for the cycle in the big leagues.

Mesa Jr. may soon join Arraez in the Miami lineup. He’s had a pretty meticulous climb up the ladder so far but seems like he could be equal to the task if the Marlins should challenge him this season.

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for