SF Giants Post-Prospects Update: Ranking Dubon, Webb, and others
SF Giants Post-Prospect Prospects:
#2 CF/SS Mauricio Dubon
Acquired: Trade (2019, via MIL)
Future Value: 40+
Career MLB Stats: 62 G, 209 PA, 5 HR, .275/.314/.389, 5.3% BB%, 20.1% K%
After signing out of high school for a $75,000 signing bonus by the Boston Red Sox as a 26th-round pick in 2013, Mauricio Dubon quickly took to pro ball.
He immediately showed great baseball instincts at the plate and in the field. As his prospect status began to rise, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers alongside Travis Shaw for Tyler Thornburg.
Dubon has never walked a great deal, but he makes consistent contact. His lanky frame never seemed capable of generating much beyond doubles power, but once Triple-A adopted the juiced MLB balls, Dubon began generating extra-base hits too.
Through 27 games with Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate in 2018, Dubon was slugging .574 with 15 extra-base hits. Then he tore his ACL during a rundown and lost the rest of his season to surgery and rehab. At the same time, Milwaukee’s first-round pick Keston Hiura skyrocketed through their system, and by the time Dubon returned from his injury, Hiura had surpassed him as next in line for a spot in Milwaukee’s infield.
At last year’s trade deadline, the Brewers decided to trade from their middle infield surplus to acquire some bullpen help. The Giants packaged relievers Ray Black and Drew Pomeranz to bring Dubon into their system.
Dubon continued his strong play at Triple-A, and by the start of September, he was a mainstay in San Francisco’s starting lineup. He finished the season just a couple dozen plate appearances shy of losing his rookie eligibility, producing a solid .267/.302/.436 line along the way.
Advanced metrics were skeptical of a large amount of Dubon’s success. Especially his power output. According to Baseball Savant, the quality of contact Dubon made was expected to produce a .245/.280/.347 line, stats troublingly reminiscent of Johnnie LeMaster (sorry Johnnie).
Dubon’s biggest problem isn’t a lack of power, but an underdeveloped approach. He’s an aggressive, free-swinger capable of making contact with a lot of pitches that aren’t necessarily easy to drive. It leads to a lot of pitcher’s counts and soft contact that ultimately makes it even harder for him to maximize the power he has.
The offensive production remains the question because his glovework will justify a big-league spot. He’s had incredibly soft hands and used his above-average athleticism well to cover a lot of ground at shortstop or second base. His arm is weak compared to current Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, but it’s average for the position.
The Giants challenged Dubon to learn centerfield this offseason and it may already be his best defensive position. Ironically, in his appearances on the infield this season, he hasn’t had the consistency he’s historically shown. Perhaps the focus on a new position has caused his infield fundamentals to dip a bit, but there’s no reason to believe he cannot regain that ability with more focus at the position.
At worst, his defense and contact ability will make him a valuable utility player. Giants fans have been trying to compare him to players like Ben Zobrist or Enrique Hernandez, but he’s much more in the mold of an upgraded Joaquin Arias.
While it doesn’t bode well for his potential to be an everyday player, pretty severe platoon splits through the early part of his career make it easier to see him carving out a contributing role. In 61 MLB plate appearances, Dubon is hitting .304/.350/.500 with 3 home runs. In such a small sample, I’m still skeptical of that power output, but it’s obviously a positive sign. If you want to dream on Dubon, those are the numbers you point to.