Red Sox Prospect Marcelo Mayer Has a Simple Approach and a High Ceiling

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Marcelo Mayer has a promising bat and one of the highest ceilings in the minors. No. 1 on our Red Sox Top Prospects list, and no. 9 in baseball overall, the left-handed-hitting shortstop is batting in the middle of a Double-A lineup while still five months shy of his 21st birthday. Promoted to Portland from High-A Greenville in late May, the young-for-his-level infielder is slashing .249/.318/.457 with 13 home runs and a 107 wRC+ between the two stops.

His pedigree is that of a first-rounder. Taken fourth overall by Boston in 2021 out of Chula Vista, California’s Eastlake High School, he had been projected by many prognosticators to go even higher. And for good reason. As Eric Longenhagen wrote in that year’s draft recap, Mayer presented “among the best hit/power combinations in the high school class. He’s a potential perennial All-Star.”

Mayer sat down to talk hitting prior to a recent game at Portland, Maine’s Hadlock Field.


David Laurila: How would you describe your approach at the plate?

Marcelo Mayer: “I’m really just looking for a fastball down the middle, a good pitch to hit, and adjusting to anything else from there.”

Laurila: Has your approach always been that simple?

Mayer: “Pretty much. I mean, you get to higher levels and think you have to change — you start working on your swing and stuff — but really, it doesn’t matter how good your swing is if you’re swinging at bad pitches. So the basics for me are just being on time and getting a good pitch to hit.”

Laurila: A number of hitters have told me that a more nuanced approach is needed in order to succeed at the highest level. Focusing on your hot zone is especially important… not that down-the-middle isn’t a hot zone, of course.

Mayer: “The middle is as hot as it gets. But everyone has a different approach. Some things work for you, some things work for others. I mean, I have teammates where if I tried their approach, it wouldn’t work for me. What does work for me is trying to keep it simple and let my athletic ability take over. That’s what I’m going with until I have to change it.”

Laurila: You’ve never really tried to change anything?

Mayer: “No. I have tried different things. I just end up reverting back to what I know how to do, and what works for me.”

Laurila: Does your keep-it-simple approach go back to when you were a kid?

Mayer: “Yes and no. I mean, you don’t really need an approach until you get older and are around more experienced baseball players. You don’t need an approach at 10 years old. You’re just up and swinging.”

Laurila: You have access to a lot of data here in pro ball. Do you use much of it?

Mayer: “100%. It’s there for us, and that’s a good thing, because you don’t go to the plate blind. I think everybody uses it, really. Especially in our clubhouse; we know the pitchers we’re facing before we step into the box to battle. I like to look at his pitch frequencies, what he likes to use most; I watch film on how he attacks hitters similar to me. I like having that in the back of my mind.”

Laurila: What do you care about most when you look at your own data?

Mayer: “I’d say my exit velocity. The harder you hit the ball, the more success you’re going to have. That’s what the numbers will tell you. My goal is to go out there and hit the ball hard.”

Laurila: You’ve faced some good pitching prospects since getting to pro ball. Outside of the scouting reports, how aware are you of who is on the mound?

Mayer: “Not too aware. I try to have a nameless, faceless approach, not giving the guy too much credit. I mean, there have been a few at-bats where you know that the guy is going to be a big leaguer and if he executes his pitches, there’s really nothing you could do. You’ve just got to hope that he makes a mistake. But really, I’m mostly just going out there doing me.”

Laurila: If I looked at video of you on the day you signed and compared it to now, would I see the same setup, the same hand placement, the same swing?

Mayer: “It would be similar, but there would be a little bit of a difference. My load… I had a sway back then, and now I don’t have the sway. I’m also stronger, so my body looks a little different in the box than it did back then. But really, the biggest thing is getting rid of the sway that I had.”

Laurila: Do you watch big league hitters who are similar to you?

Mayer: “Not a lot, but I do. My dad sends me videos all the time on players like Corey Seager. Guys like that.”

Laurila: Why Seager?

Mayer: “We both swing from the left side, and he kind of implemented a toe tap thing this year. But I think we have different swings. He’s just an example of what my dad sends.”

Laurila: Do you consider yourself a power hitter?

Mayer: “I don’t think I’m a power hitter. I just go up there trying to hit the ball hard and sometimes it leaves the yard. But power hitter… who would you identify as a power hitter?”

Laurila: [Red Sox prospect] Blaze Jordan would be one.

Mayer: “Yeah. Jordan is a power hitter. I don’t have nearly as much power as Jordan. I mean, I run into a few balls during the season, but a power hitter is different. I’d say I’m more of an all-around hitter, with power.”

Laurila: Are you typically trying to catch the ball out front, or do you prefer to let it travel?

Mayer: “I try to let it travel and see it deep. That way I’m not chasing as much. I mean, if the ball is inside, you’ve got to hit it out in front, otherwise you get jammed. But if it’s outside you’ve got to let it get deep. That’s just the game. But with me, I try to let it get deep so that I can see the pitch that’s coming and have more time to read it, more time to react.”

Laurila: What tends to be the issue when you’re not going well?

Mayer: “Chasing. Trying to do too much. That’s why the biggest thing for me is letting the ball get deep and really honing in on the pitch, seeing if it’s a strike or a ball, and if it’s something I can do damage on.”

Laurila: Is some of the “trying to do too much” due to the high expectations that come with being a first-round pick?

Mayer: “No. I think it’s just the competitive nature of athletes in general. We want to do well, we want to be the best. We’re always trying to drive the ball, and maybe we’re trying to hit a homer. Stuff like that.”

Laurila: Pressure to succeed aside, is hitting fun?

Mayer: “It’s the most fun thing in the world. It’s also the most challenging, and that’s what makes it fun. The competitive nature that I have… I mean, I know that hitting isn’t something you can master. It puts you on your toes every single day. One day you can feel like you’ve got it figured out, and the next day you don’t know what you’re doing in the box. Because it’s a new challenge every single day, it never gets boring. That’s why it’s fun.”


Earlier “Talks Hitting” interviews can found through these links: Jo Adell, Jeff Albert, Greg Allen, Nolan Arenado, Aaron Bates, Jacob Berry, Alex Bregman, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Charlie Blackmon, JJ Bleday, Bobby Bradley, Will Brennan, Jay Bruce, Matt Chapman, Michael Chavis, Garrett Cooper, Gavin Cross, Jacob Cruz, Nelson Cruz, Paul DeJong, Josh Donaldson, Brendan Donovan, Donnie Ecker, Rick Eckstein, Drew Ferguson, Justin Foscue, Michael Fransoso, Ryan Fuller, Joey Gallo, Paul Goldschmidt, Devlin Granberg, Andy Haines, Mitch Haniger, Robert Hassell III, Nico Hoerner, Rhys Hoskins, Eric Hosmer, Tim Hyers, Connor Joe, Josh Jung, Jimmy Kerr, Heston Kjerstad, Steven Kwan, Trevor Larnach, Doug Latta, Evan Longoria, Michael Lorenzen, Gavin Lux, Dave Magadan, Trey Mancini, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Hunter Mense, Owen Miller, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, Daniel Murphy, Lars Nootbaar, Logan O’Hoppe, Vinnie Pasquantino, Luke Raley, Brent Rooker, Drew Saylor, Marcus Semien, Giancarlo Stanton, Spencer Steer, Trevor Story, Fernando Tatis Jr., Spencer Torkelson, Mark Trumbo, Justin Turner, Trea Turner, Josh VanMeter, Robert Van Scoyoc, Chris Valaika, Zac Veen, Alex Verdugo, Mark Vientos, Matt Vierling, Luke Voit, Anthony Volpe, Joey Votto, Christian Walker, Jared Walsh, Jordan Westburg, Jesse Winker, Mike Yastrzemski, Nick Yorke, Kevin Youkilis

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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8 months ago

Fingers crossed. He would probably be the best SS on the Sox if he was promoted today. He needs a little more seasoning against him level pitching first though.