It’s been almost a year since the Marlins officially signed Cuban outfielder Víctor Víctor Mesa along with his younger brother Víctor Mesa Jr. After his first minor league season, in which he spent time at Class-A Advanced and Double-A, did he live up to the expectations?
The Marlins are adding to the familia. pic.twitter.com/xeWSxjjj6o— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) October 22, 2018
From an offensive standpoint, people could say “NO” without hesitation. He appeared in 116 games and connected 109 hits, seven doubles, three triples, and no home runs. Drove 29 runs in, scored 45 times, and stole 18 bases in 20 attempts. His slash line didn’t impress anyone either: .235/.274/.263.
But let’s be reasonable. Although Víctor Víctor was widely regarded as the top talent available in the 2018-19 international amateur free agent class, he was never hyped up to be a perfect player.
Since the beginning (or at least since major league scouts began to evaluate him), Víctor Víctor was not supposed to be a power threat. If you doubted that he could hit 10 dingers, maybe you were right. He’s never done that, not even in Cuba, where—according to Baseball-Reference—only 10 four-baggers came out of his bat across six seasons.
The 23-year-old was coveted by teams for his speed, contact and fielding. During the 2019 regular season, he stole 18 bases and was caught only twice, struck out at a 12.7 % rate, and finally was named one of the best defenders in the minors, crowned with the Gold Glove.
In his 1st minor league season, Víctor Víctor Mesa wins the MiLB Gold Glove in CF pic.twitter.com/25w9xsKZY5— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) October 14, 2019
Those tools mentioned above seem to be major-league ready and certainly didn’t disappoint.
The key question here is, will he ever be an offensive force? Initially ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 1 Marlins prospect one year ago, Víctor Víctor has fallen down to No. 13, largely because of his initial struggles with the bat.
While most ballplayers have already begun their offseason, the Santa Clara native is out in the desert trying to prove himself. He’s currently playing for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. Thanks to a .319/.353/.383 line in 12 games, Víctor Víctor was selected to the Fall Stars Game and got the start in center field. He already has three extra-base hits, after collecting only 10 in the entire regular season.
He is not the over-the-fence threat like fellow Cubans Luis Robert and Yoan Moncada were at the same age. Don’t expect him to become another Giancarlo Stanton and your feelings won’t get hurt.
Pay close attention to how Víctor Víctor fares against right-handed pitching moving forward—those matchups dragged down his regular season stats (.506 OPS, 16 GIDP vs. RHP; .664 OPS, 1 GIDP vs. LHP).
However, if he goes on to have a similar performance to the one he’s having at the AFL, count on him to make it to the Bigs at some point of 2020 for a franchise thirsty to improve its outfield. As more time allows him to adjust to this style of play and a new lifestyle in the U.S., good things might be on the way for Mesa, and therefore, the Marlins.