We are now under a week to go until we get to this year’s MLB Draft, and the Red Sox are picking as high as they have in a half-century. With the fourth overall selection, the team has a chance to add real, premium talent to their farm system in a way that is just not common for them in their franchise’s history. With that in mind, in the six days leading up to the draft we are going to take a look at what seems to be a near-consensus on the top six players for the Red Sox to consider with their first pick. We move over to the position player side of things today with Marcelo Mayer.
MLB Pipeline: 1
After looking yesterday at Jack Leiter, who is the top pitcher in this year’s draft class and probably the fan-favorite for Red Sox fans looking forward to this year’s first-round selection, we look today at perhaps the number one player in the entire class. Marcelo Mayer has been a highly-touted prospect for a few years though, even having just graduated high school and not turning 19 until the middle of December. He started this year near the top of the class, but between his performance in front of scouts this spring and the performance of some others ahead of him a few months ago, he’s jumped up the board and could go number one overall.
In some ways, Mayer could have been hurt by the lack of baseball last summer. As FanGraphs notes in the link above, since the shortstop is from Southern California and far from Florida, where the COVID restrictions were much looser than his part of the country, he didn’t attend the same number of scout showcases as others. On the other hand, he played alongside 2019 first-round pick Keoni Cavaco, and many scouts already saw him as the better prospect at that point, even as an underclassman. So even with probably getting less exposure than your typical top high school player leading up to his draft year, Mayer had plenty of hype coming into the season.
And the hype is not unfounded, as it’s hard to imagine a more well-rounded scouting report than what we’re seeing from the talented infielder. He appears to be a true all-around player, showing an ability to stick up the middle at shortstop. In fact, in Baseball America’s scouting report above they call him the best defensive shortstop in the class. By all accounts, he has everything you’re looking for defensively, with good instincts, great athleticism, and an arm that will play on the left side of the infield.
In addition to the glove, Mayer also brings with him the potential for an impact bat. The left-handed swinger has a smooth swing that allows him to cover the entire zone and use the whole field. Generally speaking, he’s more of a gap-to-gap kind of hitter, but he has enough strength and makes hard enough contact that he will punish mistakes and show solid power, even if it’s not quite a carrying tool. That said, he is still young and the frame is a little on the lean side, so some are projecting more power as he fills out. Of course, the flip side of that is the fact that filling out can sometimes make it harder to stick up the middle.
All in all, Mayer is the best prospect in this draft to me, and while he’s committed to the University of Southern California, it’s essentially a lock he’s going to be picked early and forgo that commitment. The bad news for Red Sox fans is it seems hard to believe right now Mayer will fall to number four. On the other hand, the top of this class has been murky for a while, and there are a couple of other prep shortstops in Jordan Lawlar and Khalil Watson — both of whom we’ll cover later in the week — who could be intriguing as well. While the odds are against the Red Sox grabbing him, the chance of it happening is the most exciting possibility in my mind for Sunday night.