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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Why Marcelo Mayer Stays Elite Crimson Sox Prospect After Throwaway Season

Earlier than the beginning of the 2024 season, NESN.com is evaluating a number of noteworthy prospects within the Boston Crimson Sox group, utilizing perception and evaluation from business consultants to gauge every participant’s outlook for the upcoming marketing campaign. First up: Marcelo Mayer.

Marcelo Mayer, the No. 4 general decide within the 2021 MLB Draft, entered 2023 because the consensus high prospect within the Crimson Sox group.

One yr later, he nonetheless holds that distinction amongst many consultants, however not essentially with the shine you’d count on based mostly on his prior trajectory.

So, what ought to we make of Mayer’s outlook earlier than the 2024 marketing campaign?

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Right here’s all the things you’ll want to know concerning the 21-year-old shortstop.

Mayer was extensively thought-about one of the best participant within the 2021 MLB Draft. And he fell into the Crimson Sox’s laps, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers choosing Henry Davis (catcher), Jack Leiter (right-handed pitcher) and Jackson Jobe (right-handed pitcher), respectively, with the primary three picks. Not a nasty comfort after Boston’s dismal pandemic-shortened 2020 season, through which the Crimson Sox went 24-36 beneath Ron Roenicke.

First impression? Mayer has the look — on and off the sector. The Eastlake Excessive Faculty (Chula Vista, Calif.) product would possibly be capable of carve out a profession in Hollywood if the entire baseball factor doesn’t work out, with social media shortly stating his uncanny resemblance to Adrian Grenier, the actor who performed Vincent Chase within the hit sequence “Entourage.”

Anyway, Mayer was the Crimson Sox’s highest draft decide since choosing pitcher Mike Garman third general in 1967. Boston leaned closely on place gamers — particularly infielders — in latest drafts, however selecting Mayer was a no brainer. (Curiously sufficient, the Crimson Sox went again to the Southern California effectively within the first spherical in 2022, selecting Mikey Romero — Mayer’s former journey teammate — with the twenty fourth general decide.)

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Mayer first caught the eye of scouts whereas enjoying alongside Minnesota Twins 2019 first-round decide Keoni Cavaco, the second participant ever from Eastlake Excessive Faculty to be chosen within the first spherical of the MLB draft. (Former Crimson Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez grew to become the primary in 2000.) After that, the arrow persistently pointed upward — till 2023.

It’s nonetheless pointing upward, to be clear; it simply began wobbling backwards and forwards slightly bit final season because of a shoulder damage. As such, it is a large yr for Mayer as he seems to be to indicate he’s nonetheless the most effective prospects in baseball.

Scouting report
Mainly, we must always simply throw away 2023.

Simpler stated than accomplished, after all. Mulligans in actual life are a more durable promote than the breakfast ball you’ve grown accustomed to each Sunday morning. However it’s pretty apparent the shoulder damage Mayer suffered in Might ruined his second full skilled season.

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“Up till the purpose he obtained injured, he was hitting rather well. He was doing all the things we would have liked to see,” Ian Cundall, director of scouting for SoxProspects.com, not too long ago informed NESN.com. “His exit (velocity) knowledge was actually good. He was hitting the ball laborious. Couple of issues — kinda the identical points we have been seeing in previous seasons — have been nonetheless cropping up, the place he does develop the zone slightly an excessive amount of and he does have some points recognizing and coping with breaking balls, however the remainder of the stuff, throughout the board, was all actually good in Excessive-A Greenville.”

Mayer tried to play by way of the shoulder damage, which solely exacerbated the ailment, weakened his manufacturing and in the end ended his season in August.

“I simply obtained to some extent the place I couldn’t actually go anymore,” Mayer informed reporters in January. “I feel that’s on me, for not likely realizing my physique.”

In hindsight, Mayer most likely ought to’ve proceeded extra cautiously slightly than threat additional injury. However now, with the damage behind him — “my shoulder’s in an amazing spot,” he stated — it’s time to supply a reminder: Mayer has all the instruments, offensively and defensively, to be a franchise cornerstone.

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“He nearly seems to be like he doesn’t strive at instances. I imply that in a great way,” Cundall stated. “There are undoubtedly guys who don’t try to it’s dangerous. However it’s simply so easy and so fluid with him that it’s actually totally different if you have a look at him in comparison with somebody like (Crimson Sox prospect Chase Meidroth), who’s form of on the alternative finish of the dimensions, the place all the things he does is made tougher by his measurement, however he’s nonetheless capable of do it as a result of all the things is like max effort there.”

Mayer has a candy left-handed swing, which he makes use of to make stable contact to all fields. Over time, a couple of extra balls would possibly sail over the fence, however the Crimson Sox, by and huge, ought to be ok with his superior strategy when he’s wholesome and all the things’s clicking.

“There’s a vital progress in energy final yr, which is nice to see,” Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes not too long ago informed NESN.com. “I feel plenty of that’s working with the group internally and (Crimson Sox director of hitting growth) Jason Ochart. He’s large on bat velocity. I feel with a talented participant like Marcelo, it’s essential to construct impression. He has the bat-to-ball potential and the strategy, although that backed up final yr. I’m not so certain that I’m panicking. In-zone whiff charge was nonetheless under 20 p.c. He was about acceptable with contact whereas coping with a shoulder damage.”

“Up till the purpose he obtained injured, he was hitting rather well. He was doing all the things we would have liked to see.”

Ian Cundall, director of scouting for SoxProspects.com, on Marcelo Mayer

Mayer is nearly as clean within the area regardless of being listed at 6-foot-3, 188 kilos. There’s an opportunity he’ll sometime transfer to the new nook, presently occupied in Boston by Rafael Devers, relying on how he develops bodily. Simply don’t count on a place change anytime quickly.

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“I used to be actually impressed, as have been scouts that I polled after the (2023) season, along with his defensive potential at shortstop,” Pontes stated. “He’s not tremendous rangy, however he’s actually clear with the actions. He’s obtained an excellent first step. I feel he’s actually good across the bag. Arm is nice. If he strikes to 3rd base, fantastic. I additionally assume he’ll be good as a defensive shortstop.”

Baseball America ranked Mayer No. 14 on its High 100 Prospects checklist earlier than the 2024 season. In the meantime, MLB Pipeline positioned Mayer at No. 15. The Athletic’s Keith Regulation and ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel had him at No. 8 and No. 28, respectively, which speaks to the variance created by final yr’s damage.

“If he’s bodily able to play a full season this yr, he’s going to take off,” Pontes stated.

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Most-likely consequence: Above-average on a regular basis shortstop.

Mayer isn’t the flashiest prospect. No light-tower energy. No blazing velocity. No defensive wizardry. However the sum of the components may be very, superb. Which makes for a excessive flooring along with a excessive ceiling.

Greatest-case state of affairs: All-Star caliber shortstop.

Upon being drafted, Mayer drew comparisons to Corey Seager, one other sweet-swinging shortstop who performs the sport with relative ease. Seager, a four-time All-Star and two-time World Sequence MVP, discovered one other gear with the Rangers in 2023, so we shouldn’t get too carried away. However it speaks to the final talent set.

Xander Bogaerts, from a statistical standpoint, could be one other pie-in-the-sky comp. He averaged 20 house runs, 85 RBIs and a .291/.355/.456 slash line per 162 video games over the primary 11 years of his MLB profession. Maybe Mayer can maintain an analogous efficiency at his peak.

Once more, these shouldn’t be the expectation. However Mayer is proficient sufficient that one can dream on a star consequence because the Crimson Sox plot their path ahead.

“If he’s bodily able to play a full season this yr, he’s going to take off.”

Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes on Marcelo Mayer

SoxProspects rating: No. 2

Mayer beforehand jockeyed with Triston Casas for the No. 1 spot within the Crimson Sox system. Casas since graduated to Boston, the place the hulking first baseman thrived down the stretch in 2023.

Now, Mayer is competing with Roman Anthony atop SoxProspects.com’s rankings, with the latter incomes the slight nod because of the superior offensive upside he showcased final season.

“It was not simple. And it’s extra a 1A and a 1B scenario,” Cundall stated.

Fenway forecast
Might we see Mayer make his MLB debut in 2024? Positive. He superior to Double-A final season and simply participated within the Crimson Sox Improvement Program, an indication he’s inching nearer to the large leagues.

However 2025 is a extra lifelike timeline, particularly with Trevor Story penciled in as Boston’s beginning shortstop. In any case, Mayer simply turned 21 in December.

“There’s simply plenty of benefits to ready till 2025 and attempting to get a full season out of him, slightly than speeding him up, particularly with the middle-infield depth they’ve,” Cundall stated. “You could have Trevor Story wholesome, hopefully, the complete yr. You could have Vaughn Grissom. They clearly have a few guys who’re forward of him timeline-wise — like David Hamilton and Pablo Reyes. They’ve good choices there.

“I simply don’t assume you need to rush it, particularly the place he’s going to play this complete season at 21. There’s simply no want, except he simply goes on the market and is Jackson Holliday 2.0 numbers-wise from final yr, the place he simply forces the problem. I feel 2025 is the lifelike timeline.”

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