Mauricio Dubon fields a ball at shortstop during a game on Aug. 7, 2019 at Raley Field in Sacramento. Though he plays primarily shortstop, Dubon has gotten time at second base for the Sacramento River Cats in preparation for his San Francisco Giants debut. (Courtesy Ralph Thompson / River Cats)

Giants call up second baseman of the future Mauricio Dubon

San Francisco calls up Honduran infielder who’s been rooting for Giants since high school

When he first entered the gates at then-AT&T Park, 15-year-old Mauricio Dubon spread his arms wide, tilted his head back and breathed in deeply.

He and his host mother, Sandy Ritchey, agreed: One day, he’d be playing here. On Tuesday, Dubon, 25, will return to the stadium, this time as a San Francisco Giant.

According to a report by The Athletic’s Milwaukee Brewers beat writer Robert Murray, Dubon — the Brewers former No. 5 prospect, and the most big-league ready minor league piece the Giants acquired at the trade deadline — is being called up on Tuesday. A Twitter post by Dubon confirmed the report, before the club finally announced the move.

Dubon has played both second base and shortstop since being traded to San Francisco for left-hander Drew Pomeranz and hard-throwing reliever Ray Black. Since arriving at Triple-A Sacramento, he’s hit .232 with four home runs, nine RBIs, four doubles and 23 runs in 25 games. He paces all Triple-A shortstops with 20 home runs on the season, and is the main reason why the Giants released World Series hero Joe Panik.

Dubon, born in Honduras, spent several of his teenage years in Sacramento. He fell in love with the Giants as he made trips out to San Francisco for games with his host family the Ritcheys and another semi-host family, the Garcias. He idolized Brandon Crawford, and had a replica jersey with his number, and another with Panik’s.

Before coming to the United States, Dubon pursued baseball over the national sport of soccer, inspired by his brother Danilo, a shortstop on the Honduran national team. Dubon’s father would drive him up to 15 hours in a broken car to play in youth and club tournaments.

As he entered high school, he’d seen multiple baseball missionary groups come to his hometown of San Pedro Sula, trying to grow the game, and promising opportunities to play in the United States.

Those opportunities never materialized for his brother, or for him. His swing wouldn’t translate, some told him. His leg kick was too high.

“I tried to get signed and everything, but the Latin culture over there, it’s the Dominican or the Venezuelans,” Dubon told The Examiner earlier this month in Sacramento. “That’s all. That’s how they control the game, so that is how it is. That’s always how it’s been. It’s always been, ‘What would you rather have, a Dominican shortstop or a Honduran shortstop?’ That’s how it is.”

When another group — Impact International Baseball Academy out of Sacramento — came down, he was skeptical. He wanted to play in a neighborhood soccer game, rather than practice with his club team – the Marineros — in front of the visiting coaches, and endure more disappointment. His mother, Jeanett, made him go.

“Go,” she said. “You never know.”

Three days later, he was headed to the United States. Once he came to the United States for good in 2011, he was possessed of a remarkable confidence, and hit over .500 in two seasons for Capital Christian.

“My dad was like, ‘Are you going to be OK with those people?’” Dubon said. “I said, ‘Dad, I like the spotlight. I love the spotlight.’”

He developed a close bond with both the Ritcheys and the Garcias, sleeping in the same room as the Ritcheys’ own 15-year old son Ben, a Capital Christian pitcher, at their home in Rosemont. When not staying at the Ritchey house, he could be found with his high school double play partner Taylor Garcia, and calls his father — Tyson — and Andy Ritchey, ‘Dad.’

After a stellar prep career at Capital Christian, he was drafted by the Red Sox, then traded to the Brewers as a piece in a deal for Tyler Thornburg. Three years later, he was traded for two big league arms.

“I was wondering who else got traded with me, and the next thing I know, it was just me,” Dubon said. “That was crazy. I went from zero to 100, because I got traded for [Tyler] Thornburg, who hasn’t been up since whenever, and I went to being the guy that got traded for two guys.”

In seven minor league seasons, Dubon has hit .300 with 46 home runs, 16 triples, 127 doubles and 285 RBIs in 609 games, while stealing 127 bases on 177 attempts, posting an on-base percentage of .348 and a .426 slugging percentage. Upon the completion of the trade, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said that Dubon figured heavily in future plans.

“He’s a piece of the long-term puzzle,” Zaidi said.

Dubon spends his offseasons in Sacramento, between trips back to Honduras to help out local youth ballplayers. The last time Dubon was at the park in China Basin, he’d been invited to watch Game 5 of the 2014 National League Championship Series by the Garcia family, going with his former Capital Christian double play partner Taylor Garcia, his father, Tyson and another Honduran ballplayer taken in by the Garcias — Alejandro Fernandez. Dubon was wearing his Crawford jersey.

Four rows up from the front of the top deck, down the third base line, they saw Travis Ishikawa hit the home run that sent San Francisco to the World Series. On Tuesday, Dubon will be back. This time, in the clubhouse.

“He’s always known,” Taylor Garcia said. “He’s had that drive, and it’s separated him from everybody else.”

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