MILWAUKEE -- Brewers prospect Mauricio Dubon is slowly easing his way back toward baseball activity after season-ending ACL surgery in May.
Dubon, No. 10 on MLB Pipeline's list of the Brewers' top prospects, was playing with Triple-A Colorado Springs on May 5 when he sustained a torn ACL to his left knee in an eighth-inning rundown. His routine has become daily leg and quadriceps exercises, as well as a steady diet of watching baseball games and highlights. The Brewers expect Dubon to be good to go by 2019 Spring Training.
"He will handle this very well, no question," farm director Tom Flanagan said. "He is passionate in everything that he does, and we are confident that Mauricio will come back from this better than before."
The 23-year-old is eager to continue his work that he began putting in during the 2017-18 offseason, when he was telling his trainers and his father that he would knock 20 home runs this year -- despite never hitting more than eight in a single campaign.
If Dubon didn't sustain the injury, the numbers say the shortstop would have had a chance to reach the milestone. Or -- more likely -- he would've made his Major League debut before he even hit 20.
"At the time, I knew something had happened," Dubon said of the injury. "I was disappointed because I knew a chance was coming, but it wasn't bad because I had good people behind me who supported me."
Dubon, a native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, credits his host family in Sacramento, his birth family in Honduras and his girlfriend for all helping him mentally through the recovery process.
But that hasn't made it any easier knowing what could have been in 2018.
"I watched the play two to three times, but now every time I watch it, I get upset," Dubon said. "I keep telling the guys that I remember the play vividly, what happened, when it happened. It was a freakish accident. It happened, and you can't control that."
The Red Sox selected Dubon in the 26th round of the 2013 MLB Draft before the Brewers acquired him as part of the deal that brought Milwaukee its starting third baseman, Travis Shaw. Dubon hit .343 with four home runs and 18 RBI in 27 games for the Sky Sox before going down this season.
Flanagan says Dubon has continued to impress the front office since the December 2016 trade.
"He was really putting together an excellent start to the season and on his way to big things at the time of his injury," Flanagan said. "Both he and the organization see really big things ahead for him."
Dubon says he owes his career-best numbers to a "mindset change" -- and Sky Sox teammate Nate Orf.
"If you catch the ball in front, it'll free your hands," Orf told Dubon last summer.
Making the adjustment throughout the offseason, Dubon entered the spring looking to be able to drive the baseball, and then things started to click.
Dubon started the 2018 season in Triple-A, but he likely would have been called up during the summer due to a lack of production from Milwaukee's middle infielders at the Major League level. Instead, Dubon's roommate, Freddy Peralta, was the one who made his big league debut this year and struck out 13 batters on Mother's Day in his first start.
"We used to talk about that every night when we were on the road," Dubon said. "We talked about how our Major League debut would be."
And Dubon knows that his time is likely to come when he'll be manning shortstop at Miller Park.
"I have a lot of trust in myself, a lot of confidence," Dubon said. "I'm going to be one of the guys next year. Hopefully next year I can help the Brewers win."