Tomase: Baseball America has high praise for Sox prospect Marcelo Mayer originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Baseball America's Top 10 Red Sox prospects list is out and there's a new No. 1 -- Marcelo Mayer.
The fourth overall pick in last year's draft, Mayer is described as a potential foundational player at shortstop. "Few who scouted him as an amateur would be surprised if he emerges as an All-Star and Red Sox franchise cornerstone," BA writes.
He's followed on the list by last year's No. 1, first baseman Triston Casas, a hulking power hitter who led Team USA in home runs and RBIs during the Tokyo Olympics. Casas could reach the big leagues sometime next season after posting an .877 OPS in the minors.
They're followed by Nick Yorke, the first pick of Chaim Bloom's tenure and a selection that was met with raised eyebrows by an industry that viewed him as a borderline top-100 prospect before the Red Sox selected him 17th overall in 2020. Bloom and Yorke appear to be getting the last laugh after the sweet-swinging second baseman debuted at Low-A Salem by hitting .323 and winning a batting title. BA calls him, "one of the best pure hitters in the minors."
The rest of the top 10 includes some familiar names. Speedy center fielder Jarren Duran checks in at No. 4 after a spotty big-league debut, and hard-throwing right-hander Brayan Bello ranks fifth. One-time top prospect Jeter Downs slides to sixth after a disappointing season at Triple A, coming in just ahead of teenaged mauler Blaze Jordan, whose storied home run derby power translated in his debut at the lowest levels of the minors.
Rehabbing right-hander Bryan Mata is eighth, even though he's likely to miss most of the season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The ninth spot goes to Josh Winckowski, who might end up being the key to the Andrew Benintendi trade, and checking in at No. 10 is left-hander Jay Groome, himself a Tommy John survivor who has failed to regain the form that made him the No. 12 overall pick in 2016.
The addition of Mayer and the debut of Yorke have transformed the system, which jumped into Baseball America's top 10 when it ranked ninth at the end of the season. Mayer, for instance, was considered the likely No. 1 overall pick before sliding to the Red Sox at No. 4.
He's a shortstop with the arm and fluidity to stay there and make an impact, although there's a chance the rangy 6-foot-3, 188-pounder outgrows the position as he adds muscle. His most frequent comp is Dodgers standout Corey Seager, a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder who has spent his entire career at short.
"Mayer's defense at a premium position and sound swing and approach give him an easy projection of at least an above-average regular," BA writes. "His ultimate ceiling will be determined by whether he stays at shortstop or outgrows it, as well as how his power develops in pro ball."