It’s time to take a foray into the lower levels, the place where us dynasty owners dream the biggest. It’s here that we latch onto exorbitant rookie ball stats and pump these players with helium with the hopes they’ll rise into elite prospect-dom. Indians OF George Valera and Mets SS Ronny Mauricio have been two of the hottest names in these levels over the last few months. It’s time to pick a favorite.
The first thing to note with these two guys, no matter your preference: they are extremely risky and likely won’t debut until we’re two years into the term of our next president. Both of them could bust or both could be great major leaguers. With teenagers, it’s hard to extract much, especially those who combine for just 63 professional games. Valera played just six of those despite being a year older, but that’s because he suffered a hamate injury.
So how do we assess these two when numbers more or less go out the window? It’s about how projectable they are and what tools are currently in place. With Valera, the draw is a lofted swing that draws comparison to Robinson Cano’s and might portend to a 60/55 hit/power combo. The six-foot lefty bat seems like he has the safer offensive floor and reports say he’s got a good eye at the plate.
But, if we’re dreaming, I give the edge to Ronny Mauricio. Yes, I ranked Valera above Mauricio in my fantasy lists, and Valera also tops Mauricio in our real life and fantasy list. And while I like to remain consistent in the offseason, my colleagues here have really made me consider things like frame and athleticism in these guys. Mauricio is three inches taller than Valera and is a high-wasted, long-limbed smooth switch-hitting teenager that played in the GCL as a 17-year-old and even got an eight-game bump to the Appy League. Hell, he’s still 17. With his frame, the expectation is Mauricio, who didn’t show any glaring flaws in his game, is going to add more muscle and gain more power. I’m looking at our Peak Projections in our Interactive Prospect Page and I wonder if 25 HR is too light. I’m thinking he can push 30 if he physically develops like he should and has a chance to advance fairly quickly for someone his age. I love both these guys, but Mauricio has the future edge. - Eddy Almaguer
We have a projection battle on our hand this week! A projectable power hitting infielder in the Mets’ Ronny Mauricio versus the Indians’ sweet-swinging George Valera. We don’t have much track record whether amateur or professional to draw from, so much of this will come down to our looks on tape.
The Indians’ Valera skipped the Dominican Summer League debuting in the AZL for six games before a hamate injury put him on the shelf. Over that week he produced well slashing .333/.409/.556 with a homer and 6 steals. Additionally his K-BB% was even. I’m not sure we’re having this conversation if Valera plays a full AZL campaign. There’s something about Valera’s swing that gives me comfort projecting him as a 60/60 hit/power bat with on-base ability. While he may lack the speed associated with other top fantasy prospects, he shows the type of hitting acumen that should see him advanced quickly, easily adjusting to each level. The thing that sticks out about Valera is his ability to manage both staying short to the ball, but long through the zone.
When comparing the hands of Valera and Mauricio, it’s an easy victory for Valera. While I like Mauricio and see a power hitting monster in the projectable 17 year old, as a switch hitter he just hasn’t mastered his swing from either side yet. The lefty swing looks better than the right. There’s a long way to go for both players, and it might go the opposite way eventually, but Valera gets my vote just due to his feel to hit - Ralph Lifshitz
I’m going to announce my winner right away and for me its Valera. I love the future hit and power tools and I think there’s enough upside for Valera to become a 70-hitter with 60-power. That’s an elite offensive player and one that I want to invest in where I can. I’m probably the high man here but Valera is one of the most impressive teenage prospects in the minors. Injuries robbed us of what surely would have been a strong debut in the AZL, but he’s a good hard-working kid that will bounce back quickly. The swing is a carbon copy of Robinson Cano, and by default that makes it one of the most aesthetically pleasing swings you’ll find. Controlled chaos. He stays back and explodes towards the baseball while looking effortless at the same time. He’s a future top 25 prospect.
That’s not to say I don’t like Mauricio, but I love Valera and just like-like Mauricio. The Mets farmhand is a complete shortstop, and might have the highest upside of any shortstop in the organization, which says a lot since Amed Rosario was a former top ten prospect in baseball and Andres Gimenez was 19 killing it in Double-A. Mauricio will offer some defensive value for sure, but how can you pass on Valera’s bat? - Matt Thompson