Miami Marlins Q&A: Victor Mesa Jr. talks citizenship, baseball and Lionel Messi

It has been a busy offseason for Victor Mesa Jr.

From a work standpoint, the Miami Marlins’ outfielder prospect found himself added to the 40-man roster, bringing him one step closer to a potential MLB debut.

Personally, Mesa accomplished a long desired dream of becoming a United States citizen. He spent two months studying before passing the test earlier this month.

He posted a photo of himself on Instagram with an American flag and his certificate with the caption “God bless America”

“It’s a very proud for for the opportunity for me and my whole family,” Mesa, 22, said. “I’m the first one in the family. This country gave me the opportunity. It opened its doors to me and my family so I’m very proud to be a citizen.”

Now comes his next test: Proving to the Marlins that, sooner rather than later, he is worthy of making his MLB debut. Mesa, entering his sixth season with the Marlins, has moved up one level of the minor leagues every year. He played all of the 2023 season with Double A Pensacola, hitting .242 with a .720 on-base-plus-slugging percentage while setting career highs in home runs (18), RBI (76), runs scored (73) and stolen bases (16 in 19 attempts) while handling center field with ease.

“He’s growing as a player and as a person,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “Super young. Elite defender. Continuing how to be a good hitter is the goal, not getting caught up in power, power, power. ... He’s getting more comfortable the more time he’s around us.”

Mesa on Friday talked about his professional baseball journey, preparation for the citizenship test and his fandom for soccer superstar and Inter Miami phenom Lionel Messi.

Below is a Q&A of that interview, with answers edited slightly for length and clarity.

How prepared did you feel for the citizenship test?

“It was two months, the whole process. I studied for one month. I thought I was ready for it, and then I stopped studying for the test until I forgot a lot of the questions and then the actual answers. It was hard for that week. So for a whole week right before the test, I was studying and getting ready.”

Is there one piece of information from studying that you’ll always remember?

“I know all 100 questions. Who was the first president? Who was the president during World War I and World War II? Who was Martin Luther King? Who was Susan B. Anthony. What were the 13 colonies? Where is the Statue of Liberty — I visited it, I’ve been there. Why did we declare independence from Great Britain? I know all of that and I think I’ll remember that for a long time.”

On the baseball side, you’re on the 40-man roster and in big-league camp for the first time. What does that mean to you and what do you hope to accomplish during spring training?

“I want to take advantage of this situation. I have this shot and then I’m going to have the opportunity with all the players. So I’m gonna give my 100 percent every day and in every game and try to show that I belong here, that I can be here and with this team. Just take advantage of every opportunity.”

What’s it like being in the big-league clubhouse?

“It’s a whole different environment. I’m very familiar with many of the guys. It’s my sixth year at this organization, so there’s a few guys there that I know. But it’s pretty cool to see them, the way they prepare themselves, the routines they follow every day.”

We know how big of a Lionel Messi fan you are. What’s it like playing so close to him and getting the chance to see him in person?

“I’m very happy. As you guys know, Messi is my idol. The other day, I went to watch the game [the , I went to stay there and watch him play. Hopefully this interview gets to Messi. Very happy to have him here so close. When I’m not playing the game, I’m watching the game on TV. Again, very happy that he’s here and he’s helping to to develop the soccer industry, which is is a sport that is growing in this country.”