Making some noise: Mayo homers in his 4th straight

May 3rd, 2024

How long will the Orioles let keep mashing in the Minors?

Baltimore's No. 3 prospect has long established himself as one of the best power hitting prospects in the game. With every big swing this season, he seems to be inching closer to Baltimore.

Mayo homered in his fourth straight game in Triple-A Norfolk’s 10-6 win over Nashville at First Horizon Park on Thursday. His two-run dinger in the first inning was just the start of a big night as Mayo roped a bases-loaded double in the next frame and finished with five RBIs.

This kind of production has become par for the course for the game’s No. 27 overall prospect. Mayo is on an absolute heater right now, going 10-for-25 (.400) with four homers and 11 RBIs in his past six games. All told, he’s slashing .333/.400/.667 with 11 long balls in 30 games this season at Norfolk, after posting a .905 OPS with 12 homers in 62 games there last year.

Mayo has played 92 total games at Triple-A, compiling a slash line of .292/.400/.574 with 23 homers and 43 extra-base hits in that span. This year, he leads the International League in homers, ranks ninth in hitting, third in slugging and fourth in OPS.

That's certainly giving the Orioles food for thought.

“We are having to do a bit of thought of where to concentrate his defensive efforts, because his defensive home – especially for a big-bodied guy like he is – is naturally behind his bat,” Orioles executive vice president and GM Mike Elias said recently. “We’ve got some options there, and it’s something that we talk about and examine in the context of our team on an ongoing basis. But when you’re in Triple-A performing well, you’re close, you’re in the conversation.”

Elias essentially concedes that Mayo’s bat is big league-ready. The question is how and where he fits on an Orioles team overflowing with talented players and sitting in first place again in the American League East.

A natural third baseman, Mayo would be a definite offensive upgrade over Ramón Urías, who hasn't been effective at the plate (.167 average) so far this season. But Mayo’s defense remains a work in progress. Urias, on the other hand, won a Gold Glove at the hot corner in 2022.

Mayo does have some experience at first base. But the Orioles are covered there with Ryan Mountcastle and Ryan O'Hearn forming an excellent platoon at the position. Both can DH when the other starts, and the O’s also use that spot to get Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander off their feet on a regular basis.

The other option is giving Mayo reps in the corner outfield, where the Orioles are simply stacked: Santander, Colton Cowser, recently promoted Heston Kjerstad (BAL No. 4/MLB No. 29) and All-Star Austin Hays (who will soon return from injury).

In short, Mayo might very well be the Orioles' third baseman of the future. But they might have too many good players right now to make him their present.

Still, if the 22-year-old continues to rake, he will force his way to Baltimore.