Victor Victor Mesa stepped up to home plate at Roger Dean Stadium, squared off a pair of warmup pitches and tapped his bat on the ground twice before getting into his stance.
As he took his minute-long turns at the plate, he received his first glimpse at what will be part of his new on-field routine with the Miami Marlins while taking part in an organized hitting camp, during which the Marlins hosted nine of their top hitting prospects to give them a chance to showcase their skills before spring training begins in February.
The Marlins, meanwhile, got an up close and personal look their top prospect Monday for the first time since his workout at Marlins Park in early October, a few weeks before the team signed him and his brother Victor Mesa Jr. to contracts.
The overarching takeaway: Yes, there’s talent, but it’s too early to tell when that talent will make its way to the Major League.
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“I feel the pressure,” Victor Victor Mesa said through a translator Monday after the hitting camp, which included stretching, hitting off a tee in batting cages and then the live batting practice session. “There’s a lot of pressure because they’re expecting a lot from me. I want to work with the Marlins organization to get everything they expect from me.”
Gary Denbo, the Marlins’ director of player development and scouting, left the session impressed with the Cuban outfielder the Marlins hope will be a key part of the group that helps them get back to MLB relevance.
The elder Mesa’s upside remains the same. Denbo said he still likes Mesa’s speed and defensive abilities in the outfield. He remains optimistic that Mesa will be an above-average hitter while still being unsure of his power-hitting potential.
The downside? Mesa’s limited experience at a professional level coupled with the fact that he has had minimal organized game exposure over the past year.
“We will do what we can do in order to get him at-bats,” Denbo said. “He’ll spend more time in the bullpen. When the pitchers are throwing their bullpens, he’ll be in the bullpen tracking their pitches. That’s something we do for all our pitchers to try and expedite their development as hitters and to get them to see game-like speed. That’s the most difficult adjustment all of our guys have to make, but Victor Victor especially because he hasn’t played in organized games for a while.
“We’ll have to make some adjustments and we’ll be very patient with him and give him every opportunity we can to face live game speed.”
The same can be said for Mesa Jr. While Denbo sees his potential, Mesa Jr. is still just 17 years old and will need a good amount of time in the minors.
“He’s the youngest player on the field right now,” Denbo said, “so he’s got a long way to go and a lot of work to do before he advances through the organization. We’re very pleased with the type of athlete we have in Victor Jr. and we’re excited about the chances of him being an impact player for us in a few years.”
It’s an adjustment that’s going to take time. Denbo knows that. The Mesas know it, too.
But that doesn’t conceal the fact that Marlins fans are hoping to see their talents sooner rather than later.
“There are great expectations,” the elder Mesa said. “I’m just going to focus on working hard, getting better, getting to know everyone in the organization and going from there.”
Added fellow outfielder prospect Monte Harrison, who saw the Mesa brothers’ talents in person for the first time on Monday: “There’s always anticipation when you hear about names, but I look at every player the same,” . “They have to come out and show their ability to play baseball. They look like they can play. It’s only BP and stuff like that, but you see the swings and you see they have some talent. I’d love to see them in a game setting. I’m looking forward to playing with them.”