He may not be one of the 28 players participating in the team’s Winter Warm-Up program this week, but things are still looking up for top Red Sox prospect Marcelo Mayer heading into the 2022 season.
Last Wednesday, Mayer was recognized by Baseball America the No. 15 prospect in the game. The following day, Baseball Prospectus listed Mayer as their 17th-ranked prospect. He was already identified by MLB Pipeline as the ninth-best prospect in baseball to close out 2021.
Mayer, who turned 19 last month, is coming off his introductory course to pro ball. The Red Sox, of course, selected the Chula Vista, Calif. native with the fourth overall pick in last summer’s draft out of Eastlake High School.
Faced with the pressure of being the highest Boston draft pick in more than 50 years, Mayer very easily could have chosen to honor his commitment to the University of Southern California rather than go pro in 2021. He instead decided to sign with the Sox and received a hefty $6.664 million bonus by doing so.
That Mayer was indeed signing with the Red Sox became significant news. After being paraded around Denver for All-Star Game festivities, he flew into Boston the following week to put pen to paper.
Before taking in a game between the Red Sox and Yankees at Fenway Park on July 22, the then-18-year-old signed his first professional contract and subsequently got his first taste of the big-leagues. He met Alex Cora, took batting practice, fielded groundballs alongside fellow shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and spoke to the Boston media.
“I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work,” he said at the time in regards to the journey ahead. “I’m going to do whatever I can to put myself in the best position and work my butt off.”
After leaving Boston and making the trek down south to Fort Myers, Mayer was officially assigned to and debuted for the Red Sox’ rookie-level Florida Complex League affiliate on August 5.
In the process of notching his first professional hit, home run, and stolen base, the left-handed hitting infielder slashed a solid .275/.377/.440 (121 wRC+) to go along with four doubles, one triple, three homers, 17 RBIs, 25 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 15 walks, and 27 strikeouts over 26 FCL games and 107 plate appearances.
Defensively, Mayer logged 177 2/3 innings at shortstop. The 6-foot-3, 188 pounder committed a total of 10 errors over that stretch while also recording 18 putouts and 42 assists and turning three double plays.
Off the field, Mayer made his impact felt by being a clubhouse leader who was fluent in both English and Spanish. The son of of a Mexican-born mother and Southern Californian-born father, the bilingual Mayer became someone international and domestic prospects could lean on.
“I’m able to get along with both of them and kind of unite them in a sense because there are kids that speak zero English and kids that speak zero Spanish,” Mayer told The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey. “Being able to help them get along and interact with each other is pretty cool.”
Mayer continued to show the kind of person he is during the Red Sox’ fall instructional league program. There, in the JetBlue Park clubhouse, he could be seen chatting with fellow prospect and Dominican-born outfielder Miguel Bleis, among others.
“There are a lot guys that are bilingual, but not everybody gravitates toward them,” minor-league hitting coordinator Lance Zawadzki said. “So I think a big thing with him is character.”
Brian Abraham, the Sox’ director of player development, echoed the same sort of sentiment in a separate conversation with McCaffrey.
“He’s a natural leader,” stated Abraham. “Guys naturally gravitate to him, some of the young Latin American players who were there during instructional league as well as some of our domestic players, which is really special.”
Since fall instructs ended late last year, Mayer has been staying plenty busy this off-season. Between frequent visits to Fort Myers and check-ins from different Red Sox instructors regarding a variety of topics (including nutrition and strength and conditioning), the 19-year-old is ready to take 2022 head on.
“With how good he’s been, it’d be a whole lot easier to say, ‘I don’t need it or we’ll see what happens,’” Zawadzki said. “But he’s really been eager to take his game to the next level.”
Mayer is projected by SoxProspects.com to start the 2022 campaign out with Low-A Salem. The Red Sox will surely exhibit patience when it comes to managing development, but one thing is for certain: Mayer is looking forward to embarking upon his first full professional season.
“I’m super excited to finally get my first full season in,” he told McCaffrey. “I’m curious how it’s going to be because I honestly have no clue. I know it’s going to be like what I experienced (in the FCL), but probably at a different facility. I know night games, so that will be cool. I’m looking forward to starting my professional career.”
(Picture of Marcelo Mayer: Bryan Green/Flickr)