On a Shuckers roster full of players familiar to fans at MGM Park, Mauricio Dubon stands out as the biggest arrival for the 2017 campaign.
The speedy shortstop with a gifted bat was acquired by the Milwaukee Brewers in December through a trade with the Boston Red Sox.
Shuckers manager Mike Guerrero got excited when he saw video clips of Dubon after he learned he would be joining the Brewers’ system. After spending the spring working with Dubon, Guerrero is even more impressed.
“He’s a supermarket,” Guerrero said. “He’s got everything to offer. He can do everything. There is no limit to him. I hope everyone stays healthy because there are a lot guys here that have a lot to offer.
“Defensively, (Dubon) is really good. He’s a shortstop, but he can move around and play second, play centerfield. Offensively, he can hit. He showed last year that he can hit and steal bases.”
Dubon, 22, has hit at every level as he’s climbed the minor leagues. He played 62 games at Double-A Portland last season and batted .339 with six homers and 40 RBIs. His career batting average is .306.
“He brings a lot of energy and instincts to play the game,” Guerrero said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him play the whole year. Hopefully, we’ll turn him into a big leaguer.”
If he does make the climb to Milwaukee, he will become the first Honduran-born player ever to reach the big leagues.
“It’s a blessing,” Dubon said of the possibility of representing his native country in the Major Leagues. “I love it. I love that attention. There are not a lot of times you hear a name and they’re the first one to do something. I’ll work hard for it and I’ll get it.”
Dubon, who spent his junior and senior years of high school in Sacramento, California, appears set to bat out of the leadoff spot when the Shuckers begin the season at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Montgomery, Alabama. Biloxi’s home opener is set for April 12 against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
With 30 steals in each of his last two seasons, Dubon should put plenty of pressure on opposing pitchers and defenses this season.
He had 19 at-bats with the Brewers during spring training and hit an impressive .368 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
The 6-foot, 160-pound Dubon believes his spring was productive.
“I learned so much from (manager Craig Counsell and bench coach Pat Murphy),” he said. “I learned a lot from Jonathan Villar and Jesus Aguilar. They taught me a lot by just listening to them.”
Right-hander Aaron Wilkerson will be the starting pitcher for the Shuckers in Thursday’s season opener. He split time between Double-A and Triple-A last year, going 8-9 with a 3.73 ERA in 28 games.
Jorge Lopez will get the start Friday, and Taylor Williams and Jon Perrin appear set to split duties on the mound Saturday. Luis Ortiz will be the starting pitcher Sunday and Angel Ventura will get the ball Monday.
“I think we’ve got four or five guys that give us an opportunity to win a ball game,” Guerrero said.
Nick Ramirez, who is making the switch from first base to relief pitcher this season, will be the only lefty on the Shuckers’ pitching staff.
That doesn’t mean Ramirez will be busier than the others in the bullpen.
“We’ve got to be smart,” Biloxi pitching coach Chris Hook said. “This is the first time he’s done this in a while so we’re going have to be conscious of that and just make sure we’re staying in constant communication with him and see how he’s feeling. I don’t think we’re going to go crazy. He’s going to let us know how he feels and we’ll adjust day by day.”
Who: Biloxi Shuckers vs. Montgomery Biscuits
When: 7:05 p.m. Thursday
Where: Montgomery, Alabama
Radio: 1240 AM, 100.9 FM