Mauricio Dubon

Red Sox Minor League Notebook: Mauricio Dubon's journey to America; Indy Ball to pro ball for Aaron Wilkerson

Ryan Hannable
May 28, 2015 - 6:02 am
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For Greenville middle infielder Mauricio Dubon, he made a decision that changed his life at 16 years old. Dubon was born in Honduras, where although there is baseball played, soccer is what rules the country, having qualified for the past two World Cups. "I always played baseball, but over there in Honduras coming from a soccer country, you pretty much are born with it," Dubon said via phone. "If you don't go outside and play soccer you're not normal." The 20-year-old was a standout baseball player in Honduras and drew the attention of Impact International, a Christian mission group based in Sacramento, California when they went to Honduras in 2010. The group brought baseball equipment and helped run clinics for the baseball players near Dubon's home. Following one of the sessions, the coaches asked Dubon, who was 16 at the time, if he had any interest in coming over to the states to give himself a better opportunity playing baseball. This came out of nowhere for Dubon, but after talking it over with his mom, who he is very close to, they came to an agreement that it would be the best thing for him. Dubon moved to Sacramento, California in the summer of 2011 moving in with one of the coaches with Impact International Baseball Academy, who had a son the same age as Dubon. "It was really hard leaving home and everything," Dubon said. "I knew I was going to be away from my mom for awhile and everything, but I knew eventually it was going to pay off. Now, I am where I am because of that decision. I am thankful for that decision." He now refers to them as family and goes back to California every year during the offseason. He also goes back to Honduras once a year for roughly a month to see his mom and family. Every time he goes back he sees what baseball is like there and uses it as motivation for one day being able to make it closer to what it is like in America. "There are sports over there, don't get me wrong, I wish it had the team sports that are over here [in America]," Dubon said. "I wish they had more money to sponsor more baseball and everything over there. It's motivation to keep going and help things over there." The 6-foot, 190-pounder was never a standout soccer player, but continued to play in America has used it to help his baseball skills. Baseball was always his priority. "Foot work," he said of how soccer helps his baseball skills. "From short and second, foot work helps out a lot. Plus, the conditioning." In June of 2013, Dubon's decision to leave Honduras really paid dividends when he was selected by the Red Sox out of Capital Christian High School in the 26th round of the MLB amateur draft -- he was now a professional baseball player. Being just 18 years old he reported to the Florida Gulf Coast league where he hit .245 in 20 games. Last year was his first full season in the organization and he went to short-season, Single-A Lowell and the righty hit .320 with 34 RBI, making a good impression on the organization. This season he's part of the loaded infield in Single-A Greenville and often gets lost in the mix between Yoan Moncada and Rafael Devers as being players to watch for potential impacts down the road. "Certainly a guy that can handle the bat very well," Ben Crockett, Red Sox director of player development said. "Has very good bat-to-ball skills. Able to put different types of pitches in play. He's done a nice job when he's played second base, but certainly is a strong defender at shortstop as well. The added versatility is only going to be a benefit to him. Certainly an aggressive hitter and confident in his approach. He is pretty intelligent with his approach and understanding when things don't go right he has a good sense of what he can do better." Currently with Greenville, Dubon is batting .294 with three home runs and 21 RBIs through the first 39 games. He has his eyes on the majors long-term, as although many believe Gerald Young (1987) was the first Honduras native to play in the majors, Dubon said he would be the first true Honduran to make the big leagues, as only Young's mom was from Honduras. "That would be cool, but it isn't in my plans right now," he said. "I am just trying to do my part and if that happens that would be great for everybody. That would be great. Honestly, I would love it. I would love playing in the big leagues, but I have to get there. I have to do my work to get there." INDY BALL TO PRO BALL Exactly a year ago, right-hander Aaron Wilkerson was unsure how much of his baseball career was left. Following playing at Cumberland University, he needed Tommy John surgery and was in his third season playing for the Grand Prairie AirHogs in the American Association of Independent Baseball League hoping to catch a break. In 2013 he was 1-1 with a 1.84 ERA and he got word that major league teams were interested in signing him, but nothing ever came about. In 2014 Wilkerson was 3-1 with a 3.54 ERA and again he heard he was receiving interest, this time from the Red Sox. "I heard about Boston wanting to pick me up and it was more of, 'I'll believe it when I see it.' It happened and it kind of shocked me," Wilkerson said via phone. "I was glad. It all worked out for the better I guess." Wilkerson officially signed a minor league deal on July 18, 2014 and reported to short-season, Single-A Lowell. He had a couple good months, as he went 5-1 with a 1.62 ERA, which he credited his time in Indy Ball. "Indy Ball is kind of cut throat," Wilkerson said. "You either put up your numbers or find someone else to replace you. I was fortunate to put up pretty good numbers and get recognized." "There's a lot of benefits to it," he added. "Of course everyone wants to get drafted and go through the whole process of waiting for a team to call and say they drafted you in this round and everything. Indy Ball is something you don't really find here a whole lot. I played with guys fresh out of college to guys who played four to 10 years in the big leagues and they just loved the game so much they just wanted to keep playing. "There's definitely a lot of knowledge floating around Independent clubhouses, whether it be from a manager that may have coached in the minor leagues to the guy who has a locker next to you who may have played four years in the big leagues. It's always nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of." He started this year with Single-A Greenville, but after five games he was promoted to High-A Salem where he's currently 2-0 with an 0.47 ERA. With spending three years playing in the Independent league, Wilkerson is 26 years old where many of his teammates are right around 20. He said he doesn't look at it like that, as he views it more of them being in the organization longer than he has and knowing more about hitters. "I don't look it as an age deal. I look it as more of these guys may be 20, but they have been in the organization longer than I have," he said. "They have gone though it and everything. While I'd like to think my knowledge is all there about pitching, it's a different aspect of hitters of every level that you go up. That's what I've learned going through [Lowell], all the hitters are different. It's sort of a learning curve to help learn about different kind of hitters." Being unstable for the past three seasons and not knowing what's next, Wilkerson's first full season in the Red Sox organization has given him confidence, capped with his recent promotion. He's still adjusting to the differences between Indy Ball and professional ball, but feeling comfortable. In just under a full season in the Red Sox organization, Wilkerson is 7-1 with a 1.98 ERA. "I feel a lot more comfortable now," Wilkerson said. "Last year when I got picked up it was kind of a culture shock I guess. Most of your Latin guys in Independent ball speak perfect English and here they hardly understand it. I think that took a lot to get used to. It's a different atmosphere as far as the way people carry themselves and everything." MONCADA'S BIRTHDAY PRESENT Yoan Moncada gave himself a birthday present Wednesday, playing in his first game (on his actual birthday) since suffering a hamstring injury Saturday night on an awkward slide into third base following a triple. The now 20-year-old returned to the lineup in Game 2 of Greenville's doubleheader serving as the designated hitter. He finished 0-for-3 with an RBI ground out. Although Moncada didn't play in games in three straight days, the injury was never considered serious and he was held out more as a precaution. He still took part in infield drills and batting practice, still able to showcase his raw talent at the plate from both sides. Since making his professional debut with Greenville last Monday, Moncada is 6-for-21 with two RBIs and four runs scored. 3 STARS OF THE WEEK 1. Rafeal Devers, 3B, Greenville -- The third baseman is currently in the midst of an eight-game hit streak. Over his last 10 games he's batting .351 with 6 RBIs. Overall for the year the 18-year-old is hitting .331. 2. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP, Salem -- A second-round pick in 2013 had one of his strongest outings as a pro this week when he went eight shutout innings Monday night allowing just two hits while striking out four. On the season he's 1-5, but not reflective of how he's pitched as his ERA is 3.52. 3. Marco Hernandez, SS, Portland -- The 22-year-old has hits in six straight games, including multiple hits in his last four. The shortstop is hitting .395 over his last 10 games and his seen his average go up 59 points in that span.