NEW YORK -- The beginning of Ronny Mauricio’s career has been defined by one thing in particular: Hard contact. Extremely hard contact.
Mauricio, who smoked a 117.3 mph double in his first career plate appearance earlier this month, added a 112.4 mph home run Tuesday for his first homer in a 7-4 win over the D-backs at Citi Field. The ball traveled a projected 440 feet to the second deck in right, prompting Mauricio to break into a wide grin as he rounded the bases.
“When you square up a ball like that, you know that it’s going to go far,” Mauricio said through interpreter Alan Suriel. “When you feel it off the bat, you just know that you put some good wood on it.”
In a game that also saw Pete Alonso scald his 44th home run at 113.2 mph off the bat, Mauricio still found a way to turn heads. He and Alonso became the first pair of Mets to hit homers of at least 112 mph in the same game since Statcast began tracking in 2015.
Much like Alonso, this is not necessarily new for Mauricio, who hit multiple homers of at least 450 feet in Spring Training (as well as one for Double-A Binghamton last summer that, based on a non-Statcast projection, landed 507 feet from home). So violent are Mauricio’s swings that manager Buck Showalter has warned his team to be vigilant when the rookie comes to bat, knowing an angled foul ball could “clear out the dugout.”
But until Tuesday, Mauricio had yet to clear the outfield fence in the Majors. His homer off D-backs right-hander Ryne Nelson changed that in emphatic fashion.
“It honestly doesn’t surprise me, because I’ve seen him hit so many home runs in Triple-A,” said Mets starter and fellow rookie José Butto, who delivered five effective innings to earn his first career win. “He’s a tremendous player. And I congratulate him, because he’s going to hit many more.”
One of the Minor Leagues’ most impactful sluggers prior to his Sept. 1 callup, Mauricio has hit safely in eight of his first 10 games as a big leaguer, with a 52 percent hard-hit percentage entering the night. Overall, Mauricio is slashing .306/.342/.444 with three extra-base hits, eight strikeouts and two walks in 38 plate appearances.
He’s also stolen four bases and proven adept at second base, an unnatural position that he didn’t begin playing full-time until midsummer. While Showalter has said he expects to move Mauricio around the diamond a bit, that hasn’t happened yet. It’s still unclear if Mauricio will end up as the team’s everyday second baseman next season, as its third baseman or -- perhaps most likely -- as a full-time player rotating between various defensive positions.
All that’s clear now is Mauricio will continue receiving chances to swing the bat. Which means additional chances to make loud, loud contact.
“That’s what everybody’s chasing, because the harder you hit it, the less time they have to react to defend it,” Showalter said. “That’s the simple part of it. And if you get some air under it, it goes out there where the grass doesn’t grow.”