Who is Marcelo Mayer?

March 31st, 2023

Marcelo Mayer has dominated at every level he’s played at, and the shortstop happens to play for a franchise that just saw the departure of four-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger Xander Bogaerts at the same position. Will Boston decide that Mayer is ready to become Bogaerts’ heir apparent as early as this season? Here’s what you need to know about MLB’s No. 9 overall prospect.

MLB organization: Red Sox
Birthdate: December 12, 2002 (Age 20 in 2023)
Primary position: SS
Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 188 lbs.
Bats/throws: Left/right
Hometown: Chula Vista, Calif.
School(s): Eastlake (Calif.) HS
Drafted: First round, 4th overall, 2021 (by BOS)
ETA: 2024

Winning pedigree

A four-year varsity starter at baseball powerhouse Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, Calif., Mayer reached the pinnacle of high school baseball both from a team standpoint and an individual standpoint. Mayer led Eastlake to CIF San Diego Section Open Division titles in both 2019 and '21 -- which, given that the '20 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, means that each of Mayer’s final two full high school seasons ended with championship hardware.

Yet perhaps even more impressively, the Titans’ team achievements were arguably surpassed by the individual accolades racked up by Mayer. He saved his best high school season for last, finishing his senior year with a .392 batting average, 46 runs, 45 RBIs, 14 home runs, 18 steals and a preposterous 1.442 OPS in 34 games, notably including a grand slam on his final career at-bat. Not to mention that all of this happened while, as Eastlake head coach David Gallegos told the Chula Vista Star-News, “everyone pitched around him … they wouldn’t give him anything good to hit.” Mayer went on to be named Collegiate Baseball’s National High School Player of the Year, only weeks before he became MLB’s fourth overall pick.

With that selection, Mayer became the third player out of Eastlake High to be picked in the first round, joining his former high school teammate and pitcher Keoni Cavaco (13th overall by the Twins, 2019), and, more notably, 2000 No. 1 overall pick and five-time MLB All-Star Adrián González. Gallegos did not shy away from comparisons to the longtime star first baseman, telling the Star-News that he rated Mayer behind only González among the top players ever to come out of Eastlake.

Few holes in his game

Which skills have put Mayer in such high regard around the baseball world? The better question is which skills haven’t. Via the MLB 20-to-80 scouting scale, Mayer ranks above average in his hitting, power, throwing arm and fielding. The 20-year-old’s versatility led MLB Pipeline to describe him as being “a potential combination of ’s bat and ’s glove.” That overall prowess showed up in his first full Minor League season, as he hit .280/.399/.489 with 13 homers across 91 games at Single-A Salem and High-A Greenville in 2022.

Even his biggest alleged weakness didn’t prove to be problematic over his first two pro seasons. MLB Pipeline has his speed as his only below-average tool, but Mayer went 24-for-25 on stolen-base attempts from 2021-22, including 17-for-17 in 2022. While there could be concerns about his high strikeout rate (25.3% in those two seasons) or his durability (limited to 91 games in 2022 due to wrist/back injuries), Mayer has displayed the tools needed to eventually be a star.

“He controls the strike zone. He understands which pitches he has to swing at and which ones he doesn’t,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after a March 2023 Spring Training game. “He’s a good player. There’s some stuff he still has to work on, but this kid, he’s really good.”

Big shoes to fill

It’s no secret that Mayer’s ascent is concurrent with significant overhaul at his position at the big league level. Bogaerts was a mainstay at shortstop for the Red Sox for the past decade, helping the team to two World Series titles and reaching the All-Star Game in each of the three most recent full MLB seasons (2019, ‘21, ‘22). Bogaerts’ 1,193 games played were the most by any Red Sox shortstop since at least 1901, and the recent exodus of star players -- including but not limited to Bogaerts, and -- from Boston’s 2018 championship core has only created more of a need for Mayer to step up.

Already making history

Even before setting foot on an MLB regular-season field, Mayer has already made some franchise history. At fourth overall, Mayer was Boston’s highest Draft pick since pitcher Mike Garman went third out of Caldwell (Idaho) High School in 1967. For some context, that’s two years before MLB lowered the mound to its current height of 10 inches, and two years before the AL and NL split into East and West divisions for the first time. Looking at Boston’s more recent Draft history, Mayer is in good company. Each of the Red Sox’s past two position players to be picked in the top 10 ended up starting on World Series-winning teams: (1993 Draft, 2004 WS) and (2015 Draft, 2018 WS).

Depending on when he gets the callup, Mayer has the chance to make even more history. If Mayer, whose 21st birthday is in December 2023, debuts this season, he will join Bogaerts and as the only position players in the past 40 years to play for the Red Sox before turning 21. If his MLB debut comes in 2024, he will still join Bogaerts, and José Iglesias as the only Red Sox shortstops to play at age 21 or younger in the past 40 years.

Termination of Yankees fandom

Even if he hasn’t yet put on a Boston jersey in a regular-season game, one necessary aspect of Red Sox culture has already made a permanent impact on Mayer: his lifelong Yankees fandom has been thrown out the window.

“I’m the biggest Red Sox fan of all time right now,” he said shortly after the 2021 Draft.

And when the rivalry heats up, don’t expect any of Mayer’s family to be on the Pinstripes' side either.

“He was a Yankees fan before, but not any more,” Mayer told the San Diego Union-Tribune about his father, Enrique.

“Now he’s a Red Sox fan.”