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Alex Mauricio: From Mowing Lawns To Mowing Down Batters

July 24, 2023

Bridgewater, New Jersey - Less than three years ago, Patriots relief pitcher Alex Mauricio believed his career in baseball was over. Now, he’s become one of the New York Yankees top relief pitching prospects. After earning MEAC Conference MVP his junior season at Norfolk State, Mauricio was selected by the

Bridgewater, New Jersey - Less than three years ago, Patriots relief pitcher Alex Mauricio believed his career in baseball was over. Now, he’s become one of the New York Yankees top relief pitching prospects.

After earning MEAC Conference MVP his junior season at Norfolk State, Mauricio was selected by the New York Yankees in the 27th round of the 2017 MLB Draft.

Mauricio made his professional debut with the GCL Yankees in 2017, posting an impressive 3.24 ERA. During the 2018 season, he split his time between Short-Season Class-A Staten Island and Single-A Charleston, combining to post a 3.86 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 58.1 IP.

While training at the Yankees complex in Tampa preparing to head north for his season debut in 2019, something wasn't right.

“I couldn't straighten out my arm,” Mauricio explained. “I knew something was wrong, but I didn't want to say anything.”

Mauricio is a competitor. The kind of player who will pitch through anything, even the most excruciating pain. And that’s what he did.

“I just worked through that pain… it probably wasn't the smartest thing looking back on it, but, I had to prove myself.”

After allowing seven runs on two home runs and five hits in 1.1 IP, topping out at 87 MPH on a humid afternoon in Charleston, SC, Mauricio exited the field knowing he’d suffered much more than just the loss of a baseball game; he’d completely torn his UCL.

He underwent Tommy John Surgery in early-April, packed his bags, and headed home to Virginia.

With his arm in a brace, and his future on the diamond in doubt, Mauricio began to struggle with his mental health.

“It was an accumulation of things going on in my personal life,” Mauricio recalled. “I went through a lot of challenges and obstacles… and made a decision to step away from the game to get my mental health a little bit better.”

Mauricio hung up his spikes in December 2019, moving in with his parents and began working for a local landscaping company, often working 10+ hour days mowing lawns, whacking weeds, and trimming hedges. A couple of months later, he took up a new industry, working for a retail store which sells motorcycle helmets, parts, and other accessories.

But baseball was in his blood. Unable to fully separate himself from the game he loves, Mauricio began giving lessons and coaching at Vertex Performance, a training facility not far from his home in Virginia.

As he returned to a job which required packing a leather glove and a five-ounce leather ball into his bag, his motivation to return to the game had fuel thrown on the fire.

In the fashion of Jim Morris in “The Rookie,” it was pressure from the kids under Mauricio’s tutelage which resurrected his career.

The kids Mauricio coached would pepper the Midlothian, VA native with questions once they found out he once donned the pinstripes of the New York Yankees. Questions about his career, particularly regarding why he gave up on his dream, motivated him not to give up.

“They constantly motivated me every day to come back out here,” he explained. “They were able to shed light on the fact that I probably shouldn't be coaching, I should still be out there on the field. They motivated me to come back and leave everything out on the field.”

After extensive training, Mauricio finally returned to the mound. Just not where you would expect a pitcher with a mid-90’s fastball and upper-80’s slider.

“I was just bouncing around some adult (recreation) leagues, just trying to find any way to stay on the field,” Mauricio explained.

After getting in touch with the Yankees front office and pleading his case for a comeback, Mauricio returned to the Yankees Player Development Complex in Tampa, FL in February 2022 nearly three years after last putting on the pinstripes.

No one knew what to expect, but Mauricio quickly showed them.

“He came into spring training and I don't think anyone knew what to think,” Patriots pitching coach Grayson Crawford recalled. “He showed up and was electric. We were like ‘holy cow, who is this guy?’”

Mauricio’s fastball lit up the radar gun and turned heads throughout the Yankees organization.

He earned a roster spot with the Yankees High-A affiliate Hudson Valley Renegades out of camp and earned the win in his first professional game in two and a half years, spanning 1,047 days, on April 9, 2022, an 8-6 win over the Greenville Drive.

Mauricio spent the entirety of the 2022 season with Hudson Valley, finishing the year 4-0 with a 4.78 ERA in 37.2 IP with 46 strikeouts.

“He’s very confident in himself and you see that throughout the year and a half now that he’s been back,” Crawford added. “He’s started to make a name for himself and it’s been fun to watch.”

Mauricio was assigned to Somerset to begin the 2023 season, where he has turned into one of the team's top arms out of the bullpen, posting a 4.02 ERA over 31.1 IP with 33 K and a team-leading five saves.

Previously unranked throughout his career, FanGraphs currently tabs Mauricio as the Yankees No. 31 prospect.

Reflecting on his growth as both a person and ballplayer, Mauricio is proud of what he has persevered through, but more importantly the way he has developed as a person.

“When I first got signed, I was very selfish, materialistic,” he recalled. “At the end of the day, everything I do now is for my family.”

During a tough time in his life, Mauricio credits his family that kept him in check. They sheltered him from struggle, provided for him, and inspired him to reinvent himself.

“They pushed for me to come back and show everyone that this is what I was meant to do. Those are my rocks, they push me, they motivate me.”

Mauricio thrived on the support of his older brothers, Christian and Jonathan, and parents, Carolina and Romuald, who served as a crucial part of his return.

“They were always in my corner,” Mauricio explained. “On all my gloves I have “for my family”, and (they) are what this is all about.”

Eli Fishman |