Another hit dropped on Saturday for Mauricio Dubon. And with it, the anticipation surely amped up to another level in his native Honduras.
Dubon, who upped his hitting streak to 17 in a row in a 3-2 Sky Sox victory over Omaha, will be the first from his country to play in the big leagues when the Brewers call for him.
“I hear people talking. I hear newspapers talking because there’s never been one yet,” said Dubon, who could soon join Gerald Young as the only players born in Honduras to reach the big leagues, but Young lived there only as a young child while Dubon grew up in the country. “But right now it’s just trying to stay cool, try to not look past tomorrow.”
Dubon is on the 40-man roster for Milwaukee, so he could be called up without the team needing to clear a spot – though that is likely what would happen as the team wouldn’t logically be able to keep five middle infielders. But his case is complicated.
Milwaukee has what many feel is its shortstop of the future in 23-year-old Orlando Arcia, who emerged as a star last year with 15 home runs but has slipped this year to .211/.291/.319 (AVG/OBP/SLG). At second base, Jonathan Villar .286/.313/.338 has done nothing to lose his job.
It’s the utility spots that have been a cause for concern, as the two veterans have done nothing offensively. Eric Sogard is a .118/.182/.176 over 56 plate appearances and Hernan Perez is at .184/.216/.306 over 51 plate appearances.
If Dubon, who entered Saturday slashing .325/.325/.538 and brings speed that has resulted in 30+ stolen bases in four straight seasons, continues to produce like this, the first-place Brewers could find themselves facing the predicament of choosing between letting Dubon play everyday in Triple-A or coming up in a reserve role to bolster a team that hopes to be in postseason contention.
“He’s here because he’s got more to do,” Sky Sox manager Rick Sweet said. “When Arcia was here and had been here for a couple months, he was ready. Dubon is not ready. He could go up and play, but he still makes too many mistakes. He’s got more work to do both offensively and defensively. But he’s a talent.
“This guy’s an everyday play. You don’t put everyday players in part-time because they become a part-time player. This kid’s too talented for that. That would be a mistake to do because you’re not going to get the development out of him that you need to get.”
Sweet advised not to read anything into the positions Dubon has played this season. He has started all but two of his 20 games at shortstop after playing more second base than shortstop last year, which could be interpreted as the franchise grooming him as an insurance policy should Arcia continue to struggle. But Sweet said Dubon’s extensive work at second base last year has him ready to move back a moment’s notice and the team in general prefers to keep potential shortstops at that position as frequently as possible.
Sweet said the 23-year-old prospect still needs to mature and learn in some of the nuanced areas that go unnoticed to most but can be magnified at the next level.
“Between last year and this year he’s grown so much it’s unbelievable, but he’s got more to do,” Sweet said. “You can learn in the big leagues, as long as you’re willing to lose. The Milwaukee Brewers are not in that situation.”
Dubon, 23, said he’s learned to be patient and trust the Brewers’ timing, but he has no doubt he can play.
“I feel like I can help the team win right now,” he said. “I feel like I’m ready to go and I can be an everyday guy – an everyday shortstop or an everyday second baseman. If I can help them win, I’m good. As long as I put a little rice in the bowl.”
Sweet agrees that Dubon will bring the rice, saying he “probably has a chance to be All-Star caliber.”
But not yet. So Dubon, and his home country, wait.