Ronnier Mustelier: The Forgotten Right-Handed Outfield

In all the talk about a right-handed outfielder, much is mentioned about Matt Diaz, Melky Mesa, Russ Canzler, and even Zoilo Almonte. One name goes overlooked in the organization, not because he hasn’t performed, but because of his age. The 28-year old Cuban outfielder, Ronnier Mustelier, is not only a candidate, but he may be the favorite to win a spot on the 25-man roster.

The Yankees signed Mustelier in the beginning of the 2011 season, and after a short and successful stint in the GCL, the organization promoted him to High-A Tampa. In his 136 plate appearances, the outfielder hit 3 home runs and 13 doubles, good for a slash of .333/.378/.524. Intrigued by his 157 plate appearances, the Yankees sent the outfielder to the Arizona Fall League, where in 65 plate appearances, he again hit .344/.354/.516.

In 2012, the organization thought highly enough of him to start him Double-A Trenton, where he continued to pound the ball in his 114 plate appearances, hitting .353/.412/.598. He was in Scranton almost immediately, and Mustelier saw much more competition closer to his age group, yet still managed to hit 10 home runs in 385 plate appearances, good for a slash of .303/.359/.455. He was again sent to winter ball this offseason, and in his 233 plate appearances, he hit .284/.345/.471 with 9 home runs. His final line on the 2012 season was .304/.364/.482, 24 homeruns, and 19 stolen bases in 733 plate appearances.

When interviewing Joe Girardi, Rob Abruzzese of the Bronx Baseball Daily got this quote on Mustelier.

“When we signed Ronnie, we weren’t sure what he was gonna be,” Girardi told BBD. “Then he hit in rookie ball, he hit in the fall league, he hit in Double-A, hit in Triple-A and he played a couple of positions, second and third base, too. What has really impressed me about him has been his bat speed. In spring training he had no problem turning around 96 or 97 mph fastballs.”

In the same piece, Girardi mentions that the Yankees have considered calling up Mustelier multiple times. With the Yankees in need of a right-handed hitting outfielder, and some third base depth, Mustelier fits the bill this Spring Training. He’s been on fire with the bat, but mostly against much younger competition. He’s played great defense in the outfield, and has some experience as a third baseman. If he can continue to show off his bat in March, there’s reason to believe he could beat out the current options.

While there are plenty of pro’s to be optimistic about, there are quite a few negatives to this story. Although Mustelier has shown some speed on the bases, he’s a stocky 5 foot 10 inch outfielder at 28-years old. And as much as every Yankee fan wants to believe in a late bloomer, it’s all too uncommon. Statically speaking, Pecota only predicts a slash of .242/.281/.355 with 7 home runs if he sees 442 Major League plate appearances.

There will be a number of outfielders to try out in March, and the roster spots will be granted based on how these players perform in March. Mustelier has overcome mighty odds to get this far, and one good month could translate to a Major League debut in April.

About Michael Eder

Mike is the co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money. Outside of blogging baseball, Mike is also a musician, a runner, and a beer lover.

2 thoughts on “Ronnier Mustelier: The Forgotten Right-Handed Outfield

  1. Now that I think of it, the Yanks should make Mustelier the DH who makes a start at 3B and one in LF or RF every six games and let’s see what he can do if he can outhit Canzler in spring training. Mustelier is total low-risk high-reward as a rookie minimum-maker. Give him the first third of the season (54 games) and let’s see what he can do. I’d care about is OBP primarily. If he posts at least .333 OBP ie he gets on base a third of the time, I keep playing him regardless of the rest of his slashline, HR, or RBI. If his OBP is less than that I keep playing him if he has any one or two or all three of these minimium stats: .260 BA, 5 HR (a 15 HR pace), 20 RBI (a 60 RBI pace) because he’d be on pace to post the BA and HR Jesus Montero posted in 2012 with two less RBI.

    I think that Pecota slashline is too low for a Cuban League player good enough to be signed by the Yankees moreover for how he’s hit in the minors so far. I could see him posting 14 HR, 65 RBI with a .270/.330/.470/.800 slashline for the 2013 Yankees and you know what? That’s overall better than 2012 Ibanez who’s only edge in those stats would be in HR (19 to 14) and scary as it sounds Mustelier’s HR, RBI, and slashline could be all A-Rod will be capable of producing in 2014 but with a lower SLG since A-Rod can’t hit doubles anymore (I’m dismissing what A-Rod does in 2013 as it will not be a full season.)

    That Pecota slashline isn’t too far off from Montero’s 2012 slashline of .260 (18 points less)/.298 (16 points less)/.386 (33 points less.) If Mustelier did slightly better than the Pecota slashline, say 10 HR and .252/.310/.365/.675, that’s 12 points better than ’12 Montero in OBP, only 5 less HR than Montero, 8 points less than Montero in BA, 10 less than Montero in OPS, and 21 points less than Montero in SLG. You could say that isn’t great or even good for a 28 year old when Montero produced his 2012 in his age 22 season but you know the old saying “Better late than never” and 28 is far from being old in the grand scheme of things.

    If Mustellier posts .270/.330/.470/.800 with 14 HR, 65 RBI, and 12 for 16 in SB for the 2013 Yankees, he’s top ten if not top five in the AL Rookie Of The Year voting and the PERFECT ninth-place-hitting 3B for 2014 assuming A-Rod’s days at 3B are over and his full-time DH career begins after 2013. And the nice thing about Mustelier posting a season like that is he’d have done it making the rookie minimum and you have to figure he still makes less than half a mil or half a mil tops in 2014.

    I’m hoping for a modest showing from Mustelier, something he could build on for 2014.

  2. At this point, I’m not keen on paying a lot for the DH. Half way through the season, A-Rod will be back and DHing a lot. In the mean time, there is a long term benefit to giving a young player some at bats to see what he can do. 2013 might have two very distinct halves. The first half, the Yankees might be huffing and puffing to stay over .500. The second half, with A-Rod’s return and possibly Pineda’s, the Yankees might be very, very good.