Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake (CA)
Weight: 180 lbs.
Commitment: University of Southern California
Hit: 50/60 Power: 35/55 Run: 50 Field: 50/55 Arm: 55/60 Overall: 60
Sometimes excellence is defined as much or more by a lack of any particular weakness than it is by having a stand-out strength to rely on. Marcelo Mayer is one such example of this sort of player. Mayer is one of the two top prep shortstops in a draft ridiculously deep at the position. Hailing from the storied Eastlake HIgh School, which produced the likes of Adrian Gonzalez and Keoni Cavaco, Mayer seems poised to continue the tradition of draft excellence, with a few mock drafts having Mayer being selected by Pittsburgh with the first pick in the draft. A much larger number have Mayer being taken second in the draft by Texas, only because Pittsburgh took Jordan Lawlar at 1-1. Texas is known to be all-in on Lawlar at 1-2. Should the Pirates deny them that chance, then expect Mayer to be off the board with the second pick.
Lawlar’s recent development and showcasing were both stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike others in the draft, Mayer is a west coast prep star and as such, missed out on some of the opportunities that arose for other prepsters along the east coast, especially in Florida. This should not hurt Mayer as much as it usually would though as, he shared an infield with the aforementioned Keoni Cavaco. With so many scouts attending Eastlake’s games to scout Cavaco for the 2019 draft, plenty of eyeballs got a look at Mayer. Many felt that, as good as Cavaco was (eventually taken #13 overall), Mayer was already the better player.
At the Plate
Beginning with the basics, Mayer stands with a slightly open, knees-bent stance. He has only a slight foot tap, easy load, and fluid weight transfer. His step is probably a bit too closed for regular hitting as he advances. But opening up the step is an easy adjustment to make. He lacks quick-twitch action and does not generate as much hip torque as some would like to see. On the other hand, this allows him to more easily stay back on breaking pitches. Mayer is adept at getting his hands in tight and also has excellent vertical coverage of the zone. Mayer’s game is to take the ball back up the middle and he operates best when he is taking the ball the other way when that is what is offered - an approach that is quite mature for his age and experience. With the raw basics out of the way, let’s get into what makes Mayer an exciting bat.
Mayer’s swing is almost mesmerizing with just how quiet and fluid it is. There is no twitch. There is no violent aggression. Mayer simply steps into the box and then strokes pitches from gap to gap. Rarely is Mayer beaten by heat. He does a great job hitting out in front of the plate, but also seems to have good recognition of breaking pitches that is only going to get better as he gets reps against more advanced pitching. The entirety of his swing screams quiet restraint. He is willing to spit on pitches and work counts, but is also prepared to ambush pitches when a pitcher tries to get the first pitch over. The easy swing produces plenty of power on its own, but it is not home run power - unless he turns on one and leans into one. When that happens, special things follow. Mayer’s swing path is relatively level, possessing little spine tilt; built mostly for line drives, which aids him in his gap-to-gap hitting approach, but he has lately started to show a bit more loft. This will only help him tap into his raw power during in-game situations.
If Mayer changes nothing about his swing, he still projects as a bat that could hit .300 while stroking 35+ doubles.
This is the tool where scouting and projections vary widely. This wide gap in projections for Mayer comes from the disparity between his raw power and his in-game power, combined with Mayer’s preferred approach to hitting. In terms of raw power, Mayer has plenty of it, scoring above average with plenty of comfort. Tapping into that power is something else entirely. Mayer’s in-game power is entirely average. On one hand, Mayer is a 10 HR hitter. On the other end of the spectrum, he’s a 20-25 HR hitter. As with most such spreads, he is likely to end up somewhere in the middle, potentially as a 10-15 HR threat. It’s all going to come down to how much tinkering is done with his swing and how much Mayer bulks up in the next few years.
While Mayer has good bat speed, he does not get much separation between hips and shoulders. This results in him generating far less torque than he is capable of. Additionally, Mayer has a somewhat flatter swing, conducive to line drives over fly balls. Then there is simply Mayer’s overall approach, happy to take what is offered, working the middle of the field and happy to go the other way. He has found success in taking the ball the opposite way, getting plenty of extra bases out of his line drives and good speed. For what it is worth, Mayer is aware that his hitting could use some more in-game power and has added a bit of loft to his swing of late and is starting to pull the ball a bit more often. Both of these adjustments have led and will continue to lead to better in-game power numbers.
The real question with Mayer’s power is, just how much can he continue to adjust and tweak his swing before he starts to sell out too much, taking away from those attributes which make him such an advanced hitter for his age? Almost certainly any team drafting Mayer is going to want him to tap into his potential power more than he currently does. However, there is something to be said for a modest up-tick and then allowing Mayer’s power numbers to come from the excessive amount of doubles he naturally strokes already. There is already plenty to love about Mayer’s swing and results to not get too caught up in looking for 20 HR power, especially since he brings so many other strong attributes to the table.
In the Field
Mayer is the best defensive shortstop in the draft. His defensive work is graceful, with smooth, fluid motions, soft hands, and good range in both directions.His glove transfer is quick and fluid, allowing him to turn the double play well. He makes difficult plays look easy and has natural instincts for where the ball is headed. On routine plays, he often looks as though he is playing one speed faster than the play is developing, giving himself all sorts of time to make the right decision while also making sure to complete each step of the process. Even when making rushed plays, he keeps his body under control and demonstrates excellent footwork, allowing him to make accurate throws time and again. Mayer is not quite a magician with the glove, but everything he does as a fielder is above average or better. There is no doubt that he can stick at shortstop. The only concern about Mayer manning shortstop is that he may not be done growing. He could eventually size himself over to third, rather than short. He has all the tools to be a plus defender at the hot corner if that ever becomes the case.
There really isn’t much to be said here. Mayer’s arm is a plus weapon, throwing 92 across the diamond with good carry. At shortstop he makes throws from in the hole with no problem. From third, he has more than enough carry to make even the most difficult throws. In the outfield, his arm has more than enough for him to man right field.
Mayer’s speed, like many of his other tools is above average, but not great. His 60-yard time was clocked at 6.92 seconds. His home to first times sit between 4.15 - 4.23 seconds. He’s a bit slow out of the box, but this is largely a product of his swing, the follow through of which puts him back on his heels slightly. It isn’t anything to be concerned with. His times getting to first are still solidly average, but far enough away from above average that there is no reason to tinker with how he gets out of the box looking for meaningful improvement. He isn’t much of a base thief, but shows intelligence on the base paths and is adept at taking the extra base when the opportunity provides itself. He has enough speed to play anywhere on the diamond, though he isn’t going to want to spend too much time in center field. He has more than plenty speed and range to play a corner outfield position if that ever becomes necessary, though his speed serves him well at short as well.
Mayer shows advanced bat skills with at least average power with the potential to add more. He is a naturally graceful fielder who can play anywhere on the diamond, and has both the arm and range to stick at short. Mayer is a player who understands how to play into his strengths and whose weaknesses are still average tools. He never tries to do too much and is often rewarded for his patience and willingness to feast on whatever the opposition provides him with.
Marcelo Mayer is a defensively gifted table-setter who is developmentally a full grade ahead of nearly all his peers. While no single tool is going to make loud noises, everything he does, he does well. He’s one of those players blessed with having no real holes in his game. He’s a player that should hit for average and then some at the highest level, while providing enough power to keep the opposition honest. Mayer’s fluid left-handed swing lacks only reps against higher caliber pitching for it to be a potent weapon and will require little work beyond what Mayer is already putting in. In many ways, Mayer looks to potentially be a larger model of the good version of Stephen Drew - which is a damn fine player.
As the best defensive shotstop in the draft, along with being an advanced bat. some are beginning to speculate that Mayer could go 1-1 in this draft. That means Mayer is almost certain to be off the board by the time the Diamondbacks select at #6. If fortune should have it that he is still on the board at #6, it boggles to mind to even consider that Arizona would not be sprinting to the podium to make him the pick. The one hurdle to Arizona selecting Mayer will be how much, if any, will they need to go over slot in order to sign him.
Chances of being available at #6: 10 - 15%
Odds of Arizona selecting Mayer if he is available: 90+%
Up next: Brady House, 3B, Winder-Barrow HS (GA)