After he signed with Miami as the No. 1 prospect on the international market last October, Víctor Víctor Mesa instantly vaulted to the top of most Marlins prospect lists. The months of stockpiling international bonus money via trades leading up to the signing only added to the anticipation of the franchise adding another key cog in their rebuild.
Therefore, it’s only natural to yearn for his call-up, but it’s important to realize such an event is unlikely to occur in 2019. There is a list of reasons the 22-year-old ought to play the full season in the minors: he hasn’t played organized ball in 16 months, is transitioning to life in a foreign country, and perhaps most importantly for the team, bringing him up would also start his arbitration clock. Even if he has a torrid spring, the Marlins are better served not wasting his precious pre-arbitration years in an uncompetitive season.
How did he get here? Signed as international free agent on October 20, 2018.
2016-2017 Cuban National Series stats: .354/.399/.539, 7 HR, 55 R, 44 RBI, 40 SB in 70 G (last full season, age 19)
But is it out of the question Mesa makes the majors in 2019? The team hopes he’ll start his pro career at Double-A, which has seen more players make the jump directly to the Show in recent years, meaning if Mesa proves himself from Opening Day, he could see a cup of coffee in September. This is the likely best case scenario, however.
"Many of the veteran players have approached me. .... That's made me very happy, very comfortable."#Marlins prospect Victor Victor Mesa has received plenty of support from his teammates and coaches and has been welcomed with open arms: https://t.co/on7dnSboup pic.twitter.com/KsTQBEHYCB— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) February 19, 2019
Both Derek Jeter and Michael Hill have said there is no timeline for Mesa’s arrival to the big leagues because it’s really up to each player. Sunday’s hamstring injury could delay his progress a bit, unfortunately.
It seems most likely that Mesa stays in Jupiter with the High-A Hammerheads out of spring training. The team has no reason to rush him, and he already has plenty of pressure to perform. It makes sense for him to find a rhythm on and off the field at a lower level of competition before making the next jump.
So far that rhythm-finding process is going well for the speedy center fielder, and the team is rallying to help him acclimated. In an interview with CNN Español on February 20, Mesa, the son of Cuban baseball legend Victor Mesa Sr., said that he is getting a lot of advice from the Latino veterans in camp, and they are helping him with his English. Fellow Cuban Fredy Gonzalez is also a coach on the team and has also taken the young prospect under his wing. Mesa noted in the interview that leaving his home, family, as well as his father’s legacy in Cuban baseball was a difficult decision, but he couldn’t wait any longer to chase his dream in the big leagues.
By all accounts, he seems ready to handle the pressure and isn’t lacking in confidence, claiming for years now that he’ll be better than his father. Whenever the younger Mesa gets to the big leagues, his plus hit tool, defense, and speed have him projecting similarly to Albert Almora and Victor Robles. There is hope Mesa will hit for more power as he matures too, especially if he adds more loft to his swing.
Tracking whether he can make the majors in his first year stateside will be one of the biggest Marlins stories of 2019.