Ronny Mauricio continues to light it up for Class A Columbia.
The second-ranked Mets prospect continued his torrid hitting with a roundtripper and a pair of doubles, scoring all of the Fireflies' runs in their 4-3 loss to the Hickory Crawdads at L.P. Frans Stadium. It was the first time this season a Columbia player scored three runs in a game.
Gameday box score
Mauricio extended his hitting streak to nine games, going 15-for-39 with seven extra-base hits, five RBIs and nine runs scored over the stretch. His dinger Thursday was his first since May 18 and his second of the year. In his first full season, the 18-year-old is sporting a .293/.335/.386 slash line with a .721 OPS and 14 extra-base hits over 53 games.
His performance also catapulted him into the top 10 in a couple of categories on the circuit, as his 63 total hits is fifth in the South Atlantic League and his team-leading .293 average ranks ninth.
"The one thing that Mauricio is doing really well right now is keeping to his approach of trying to hit everything to the middle," Columbia manager Pedro Lopez said. "A lot of guys, especially young guys, tend to get pull-happy. But we're really working on him keeping things simple and staying to the middle and that's allowed him to have success."
MLB.com's No. 89 overall prospect lined a double into right field off right-hander Tim Brennan to lead off the game. A misplay by Hickory right fielder Pedro Gonzalez allowed Mauricio to move to third on the play. One pitch later, Mauricio tagged on a sacrifice fly to deep left by Hansel Moreno.
The native of Dominican Republic went after the first pitch he saw with one out in the sixth and laced another two-bagger, this time to center. He did not stay on the basepaths long, as Moreno plated him with a base knock into right.
"[Brennan] was doing a really good job of jamming guys inside with fastballs and then putting them away with sliders and changeups, because we were trying to pull everything," Lopez said. "So I told Mauricio before his third at-bat, 'You're at your best when you're in the middle. Stay to the middle.' And then he drove that ball to the gap in left-center, and then put a great swing on a middle-up pitch that he hit out."
Mauricio capped the Fireflies scoring with a go-ahead dinger to right to lead off the eighth. The long ball gave Columbia a 3-2 advantage, which held up until the Crawdads rallied in the ninth for a walk-off win.
Mauricio's homer made him the first Fireflies player this season to collect three extra-base hits in a game this year, and his eight total bases in the game were a team-best this season.
And despite Mauricio's 55-power grade, Lopez does not expect to see the slugging numbers soar any time soon.
"He has outstanding hitting ability, and we're trying to get him to become a more complete hitter," the skipper said. "So while he does have some power, it's probably going to be the last tool he is going to develop. We see it in BP, but right now he and [hitting coach Luis Rivera] are working on narrowing his strike zone, staying away from chasing outside of that, and using the whole field.
"He is putting together very good at-bats right now and putting quality swings on balls."
2019 MiLB include
Thursday marked the fifth time Mauricio collected at least three hits in a game. The 6-foot-3, 166-pound shortstop has complied three, four-hit efforts this season. The first four-hit game of his career came on April 14 in a victory over Lexington. He didn't wait very long for his next four-knock performance, as he singled three times and tripled three days later. On May 18, Mauricio fell a triple shy of a cycle as he went 4-for-5 with a pair of base hits.
No. 22 Texas prospect Sherten Apostel started the comeback with a leadoff tater. He also collected a walk and two RBIs. After Gonzalez was hit by a pitch and Matt Whatley singled, Melvin Novoa drove in the winning run with a double to left.