Top prospect Mayer draws parallels to former Red Sox star

March 2nd, 2023

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The shortstop of the future for the Red Sox is a leader already, someone who other players in the farm system gravitate towards. He is bilingual, which only increases his connectivity throughout the clubhouse. And he is the definition of an all-around player, someone who can do everything on a baseball field.

Could it be that the shortstop of the future is similar in many ways to the shortstop of the past?

Marcelo Mayer, the No. 9 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline and No. 1 in Boston’s farm system, speaks with great admiration about the departed Xander Bogaerts, who is now with the Padres. 

“He's the definition of a true professional,” Mayer said of Bogaerts. “Just [someone] you look up to. He's a player that people gravitate to, a true captain. And someone who is super cool to be around.”

The 20-year-old Mayer wishes there could have been more conversations this spring with Bogaerts in either English or Spanish -- since they both have mastery of those two languages.

“I wish he was still here just because he’s such a good dude and a great player who I was looking forward to learning from,” Mayer said. “I wish him all the best over there with the Padres.”

The one thing Bogaerts took the most pride in was an area Mayer felt he failed himself in last year, his first full professional season. That would be durability.

Mayer is still annoyed that discomfort in his right wrist and back reduced his workload to 91 games and 350 at-bats in 2022.

“For sure, I'm a baseball player. This is what I love to do. And you know, when I'm not able to play, it hurts a little bit,” Mayer said.

The focus of Mayer’s offseason was to strengthen all areas of his body so he doesn’t have to be reduced to spectator status.

“The offseason was just making sure my body’s in the best shape possible going into this year so I can be able to play,” Mayer said. “I think [I learned] that the little things matter. It's not just on the field stuff. On the field stuff is super important, but being in the weight room, the training room -- all that stuff plays a big factor in you being able to perform on the field.”

Despite the injuries, Mayer had a successful 2022, starting at Low-A Salem, finishing at High-A Greenville and notching a line of .280/.399/.489 with 30 doubles, two triples, 13 homers and 17 stolen bases. There was a blemish, however, in that he struck out 107 times. Mayer took that to heart and is aiming to fix the issue.

“Yeah, 100 percent, I've been really focusing and zoning in, especially in BP, on not chasing because that was probably the biggest thing: just chasing, swinging at balls that aren’t hitters’ pitches,” Mayer said. “So just off the machine, and flips, I’ve been zoning in on making the zone a little bit smaller. If I’m swinging at good pitches, I know I'm going to be hitting the ball hard.”

A reasonable timetable could have Mayer reaching the Majors at some point in 2024. But Mayer won’t measure himself by a calendar.

“I mean, obviously the goal is to be a big leaguer,” Mayer said. “So every time you take the field, you want to strive to become a big leaguer. And that's always gonna be the goal. I want to be the best player I can be at everything.”

Was there an aha moment when Mayer realized he could excel as a professional baseball player?

“I've always thought that,” Mayer said. “Every time I step on the field, the mentality is: You have to think you’re the best in the field. You can't have any negative thoughts in your head because that's when things start to spiral. So I always take the field with a positive mindset.”

That positive mindset -- one that Bogaerts also has -- rubs off on others.

“Marcelo has a way about him. He’s a natural leader,” said Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham. “Look at the work he puts in, the early work, batting practice on the field, plus the time in the weight room and the way he takes care of his body, all the preventative treatment he does, all those things, I think represent the type of player he is and can become and other players notice that as well and want to be like him.”