.274/.306/.434, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 95 wRC+, 0.4 bWAR
25-year-old Mauricio Dubon’s baseball journey has been an unusual one. Besides being the first native Honduran to play in the major leagues, he had to leave his home and family at a young age in order to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball. Dubón came to the game via a circuitous route. He arrived in Sacramento, California with a church mission baseball team and lived with a host family who supported and encouraged him in his endeavors. He attended Capital Christian High School, which had a strong baseball program. Dubón was drafted in the 26th round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft by the Boston Red Sox.
He went as far as Double-A in the Red Sox system, and was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2016 off-season. He made a quick ascent to Triple-A but stalled out there, largely due to Brewers’ top prospect, Keston Hiura, playing the same position. Dubón made his MLB debut with the Brewers and had just two plate appearances for them in July before being sent back to Triple-A. He was traded two weeks later to the San Francisco Giants for pitchers Ray Black and Drew Pomeranz.
Role on the 2019 Team
Dubón was welcomed to the Triple-A River Cats and Sacramento community with open arms. Huge crowds of family and friends flocked to Raley Field to see their favorite son play ball. In 25 games, he hit .323/.391/.485.
But his return home was short-lived — the Giants acted decisively by releasing interim second baseman Scooter Gennett and calling up Dubon after just over 3 weeks in Triple-A.
An inexperienced Dubón was the heir apparent to #ForeverGiant Joe Panik. He joined a veteran infield which boasted two Gold Glovers, but he didn’t seem intimidated. Dubón’s impact was most felt on the defensive side of the ball. He completed 19 double plays and committed 4 errors, and also provided a spark at a time when the team started to flounder.
Although a small sample size, Dubón’s abbreviated first big league season showed his talent and instincts up the middle.
Role on the 2020 Team
Earlier this year, Zaidi praised Dubón, saying he is “a piece of the long-term puzzle” and identified him as a possible center field option for next season.
However, the sum total of his pro experience in CF has been four games in the 2016 Arizona Fall League while with the Red Sox. It’s true that versatility can benefit both player and management: for the player, it gives him more on-field opportunities and enhances his value, and for the front office/manager, they have more flexibility when putting together a lineup and considering the total roster makeup. A new rule that goes into effect for the 2020 season allows teams to carry an additional position player. This eliminates some of the need for versatility with a stronger bench. Given this fact, is it worth it for Dubón to get reps in the outfield? By allowing him to hone and perfect his skills as an infielder, the Giants would have their second baseman of the future.
How Farhan-worthy is he?
I’m giving Dubón 3 out of 4 Farhans, but it’s a soft 3 because he’s not the prototypical, versatile player Zaidi covets. Not only does Dubón currently lack versatility, but his underlying numbers don’t quite fit the mold. His minor league strikeouts-to-walk ratio is close to that 2:1 number Zaidi has targeted, but his career walk rate is just 6.3%, and when you focus on Triple-A, those splits do not improve: 2.75 K/BB and 4.9% over 897 PA.
However, Farhan was proactive in identifying the need for a second baseman as it was clear Joe Panik was a shadow of his former on-field self. And also because the Giants have nobody even close to MLB ready in the minors — literally nobody.
Farhan essentially is playing the role of mad scientist, and Dubón would be his grand experiment. There’s nothing to indicate he has the tools to play the outfield, aside from some speed and athleticism. This scheme could prevent him from fulfilling his potential as a solid infielder. If he fails, it could shake his confidence at a critical time in his career. It also sows seeds of doubt in a player’s mind if he doesn’t succeed in a role the boss has envisioned for him. Would it cause Mauricio Dubón to always look over his shoulder, wondering if Zaidi is still searching for the next Kiké Hernandez?