Mesa to serve as pinnacle of spring excitement

Marlins plan to exercise patience with No. 2 prospect in first camp

February 9th, 2019

MIAMI -- When full-squad workouts begin on Feb. 18, the Marlins' staff will get a chance to evaluate many of their top position player prospects. Although they will be closely monitoring all of them, perhaps the one they will be particularly excited to see is outfielder Victor Victor Mesa.
That's because there is so much still unknown about Mesa, simply because he hasn't seen game action since defecting from Cuba last May.
Mesa, and his younger brother, Victor Mesa Jr., signed as international free agents in October. The elder Mesa's bonus is $5.25 million, while Victor Jr. is getting $1 million.
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Victor Victor will be in big league camp, while his brother will report to Minor League camp later in the month.
Mesa is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 2 prospect, behind newly acquired right-hander Sixto Sanchez, who takes over at No. 1 after being acquired Thursday from the Phillies as part of the trade.
Acclimating to the Marlins is still an adjustment for Mesa.
"This is a process of getting used to," Mesa said through an interpreter. "It's something I'm looking forward to, but it's something I'm getting used to."
This week, Mesa participated in the Marlins' Captain's Camp, an orientation-like event that includes practices and classroom work. The mission is to familiarize the invited players with what's expected of them by the organization.
Last month, Mesa also took part in a hitter's camp at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.
With the large Cuban population in South Florida, Mesa understands there are high expectations for him to succeed in Miami. But the Marlins are not going to rush him to the big leagues. More realistically, he likely will open the season either at Class A Advanced Jupiter or Double-A Jacksonville.
"There's great expectations, but I'm just going to focus on working hard, and getting better, and getting to know everybody in the organization," Mesa said.
Due to a personal matter, Mesa was excused from Saturday's FanFest at Marlins Park. Still, he is scheduled to be on the field, with the rest of the position players, on Feb. 18
Even though Mesa hasn't played in games, his natural abilities have been evident during workouts at the complex.
"He's got speed, he can fly," Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Gary Denbo said. "In the outfield, his defensive abilities are very good. His arm is very good. We think he's going to hit for a high average. What remains to be seen is if he hits for power or not."

Spring Training will give a better indication of where Mesa stands.
By all indications, he has the makings to be an above-average center fielder, with throwing abilities that may make runners question taking extra bases.
At the plate, he will have to show that he is ready to advance to the higher levels.
"He's got limited experience in professional baseball," Denbo said. "So he's got some work to do. It isn't easy to get to the Major League level, and it's even more difficult to stay at the Major League level."
Getting Mesa enough at-bats in Spring Training, the Marlins insist, will not be an issue. That's because they intend to keep him busy.
"We'll give him every opportunity to face live game speed, even if it's just tracking pitches," Denbo said.
The plan is for Mesa to also spend some time with pitchers during their bullpen sessions. Although he won't actually be swinging a bat, he will stand in the box to see pitches.
"That's something we do with all of our hitters to try to expedite their development, and to get them to see game-like speed," Denbo said. "That's the most difficult adjustment that all of our guys have to make during Spring Training, and with Victor Victor especially, because he hasn't played in organized games for a while. He will have to make some adjustments, and we'll be very patient with him."