Mets greats Mookie Wilson and Howard Johnson spoke to media Wednesday from Port St. Lucie and discussed what they’ve seen so far in spring training from the team’s top prospects, including Ronny Mauricio, Brett Baty, Mark Vientos and Alex Ramirez.
Wilson said he got to camp on Saturday and added that he enjoyed watching Tuesday’s game from the dugout. The 1986 World Series hero spoke highly of Vientos and Mauricio as he recalled watching them play with the Single-A Columbia Fireflies while working with the minor league club.
“No, I haven’t worked with the minor leaguers in I’ll say about three years,” Wilson said. “But I do see some of the kids that I watched when they were in A-ball, when they came through Columbia when I was roving. Vientos number one, I saw him, I like him, I really, really like him.. I like him [Mauricio]. I don’t know what position he’s going to basically end up, but man, got good tools. So those are the only two kids that I remember from when I was going through the minor leagues, I don’t remember anyone else.”
Wilson elaborated on his comment that Mauricio could play another position if the team needed, as SNY’s Andy Marinto recently noted how the team could look to move Mauricio and or Baty’s positions in the field to better suit the roster.
“I think that he’s a good enough athlete that he could,” Wilson said. “And I think that’s always a positive for an organization to have a guy that could be able to play other positions. Because you never know what’s in the future, you might have a guy whose position he’s at right now might be best spot for him, so it’s good to have that one guy that can go other places and move. I have no doubt that if he had to move, I don’t think it would faze him in the least bit.”
Wilson added: “I like him. But playing at short, we got a pretty good shortstop right now, I don’t think he’s going anywhere anytime soon. So that’s why it’s good to have a kid like that, if this year is his year or next year is his year, you know that we have a spot for him.”
Johnson said that he arrived at Mets camp on Sunday, and while he hasn’t talked to any of the players yet, he’s liked watching Baty play and plans to introduce himself on Wednesday.
“Well I really like Baty, he looked good yesterday,” Johnson said. “I like what I see from all the players really. They all look fantastic. Buck‘s [Showalter] second year, so he’s going to have a good feeling for everybody, the kids they are going to rely on possibly this year. It’s just a matter of those guys getting some experience and finding out who can do what. Get that depth that you need because you know what’s going to happen, someone’s going to get hurt, you never want that but it’s probably going to happen. So you just want to make sure you have enough players you can trust to come up and fill that gap.”
Johnson added on Baty: “Just like the way he plays the game, he plays the game hard and consistent. Like some guys you might see don’t run hard through the bag or around the base on a base hit. Once they get to first base, they’re not really looking to get to second. But he’ll get on base, put a good at-bat together, gets a base hit and he’s looking to steal, scoring runs. He’s doing all the things close to my heart, so that’s kinda the stuff I like to pick up on.”
Wilson also spoke highly of Baty, saying he enjoys seeing the energy that the 23-year-old plays with and has noticed him working on improving at third base.
“I watched him a little bit last year, I do like him,” Wilson said. “Unfortunately he got hurt and he didn’t get to finish the season, but I do like him. I like his energy. Big kid, big kid. Interesting to see what his impact is going to be there, but I do like him . He played a great deal last night, played great third base, made a great play at third base last night. So it looks like he’s going to be a good one.”
The former speedy center-fielder added that he’s seen a positive change in Vientos’ swing, and believes there are big things for him in the future. Wilson also said that he likes what he’s seen from Ramirez and noted that he appears to have fun when playing.
“He’s grown already, he’s gotten stronger,” Wilson said. “Defensively, he really looks good defensively. And watching him swing the bat last night, I’ve seen that bat change a lot so he’s going to hit the ball hard. Let’s see what’s going to happen in the next year or two.”
Wilson added: “I haven’t worked with him [Ramirez] at all, but I do like what I see,” Wilson said. “He’s still young, he’s still a baby, but man, he does a lot, a lot of good things. He seems to have fun and that’s the first thing you look for, so I do like what I see.”