The Red Sox caught an unforeseen break on Sunday in the first round of the draft, getting the number one player on most boards falling down to them at four. They did not let Marcelo Mayer fall any further, grabbing him with the highest pick they’ve had in over 50 years. Here’s a little more in-depth analysis of the team’s newest prospect.
Age: 18 (DOB: 12/2/02)
School: Eastlake High School (CA)
College Commitment: University of Southern California
Draft Class Rankings
MLB Pipeline: 1
Perfect Game: 1
Scouting Report: Offense
Mayer’s game at the plate is a complete one, and one that is built around his hit tool. The lefty gets rave reviews for his smooth swing, one with which he can cover the entire plate while maintaining an ability to put good wood on the ball. High school stats aren’t exactly revealing, but it’s worth noting he finished his senior year at Eastlake with an average over .400. There are some quibbles about just how good Mayer’s hit tool can be, but that argument is between whether it’s above-average or plus.
What will be really interesting to watch with Mayer at the plate is going to be how his power develops. The shortstop stands at 6’3 but is presumably going to fill out more, which should add more impact to his contact. The most common comp that is thrown around for him once he matures has been Corey Seager, which certainly would not be a bad outcome. It’s not necessarily a powerful, violent swing from Mayer, but he makes such consistent contact that the balls he’s currently driving gap-to-gap will be flying over the fence as he starts to work out with pro training staffs and fills out. Scouts are generally projecting average-to-above-average power to go with that easy above-average hit tool. That’s about as good as you can look for, considering how well he grades out in the next section.
Scouting Report: Defense/Speed
That offensive profile is a good one for any player, but on its own it doesn’t necessarily scream “number one prospect in the class.” But the reason Mayer is so highly regarded among scouting types is that he does everything well and adds value in every area. And at shortstop, he’s among the best. In fact, Baseball America goes as far as to say there’s an argument he’s the very best defensive shortstop in this entire draft class, which is saying something as this class is not lacking at his position.
Mayer isn’t really going to blow people away with his speed, clocking in as something like an average runner, but he is still expected to stick at shortstop. The FanGraphs report did mention some worried his lack of athleticism will force him to move at some point, that is far from the general consensus. Mayer makes up for any lack of speed he may be dealing with by relying on his great instincts, strong arm, good footwork, and smooth, easy movements in the field.
Mayer was absolutely the number one player I wanted the Red Sox to take at four, but I also didn’t think there was a chance it was going to happen. He is exactly what you’re looking for when you pick this highly. We’re talking about a player at a premium position who does everything well, with his defense and hit tool playing well above-average. Even if we’re not talking about the kind of draft that boasts a generational talent a la Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper, any time you can get the near-unanimous top player it’s a great thing. I know it was tempting to want the pitching over the bat, but the name of the game is just picking the most talented players and then going from there.
It will also be interesting to see how much, if at all, they’ll have to go overslot for this deal, and how that will affect their selections on Monday. But just looking at this pick in a vacuum, they couldn’t have had better luck, and it’s a very good thing they just grabbed the elite talent rather than trying to do anything too cute.