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Showcase | Story | 8/8/2019

By all reports, Mayer shines

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Marcelo Mayer (Perfect Game)

SAN DIEGO – Upon the completion of the first day of a two-day Perfect Game showcase like the PG Underclass All-American Games, it’s always extremely informative to read the event’s Scout Blog to identify the day’s top performers.

PG scouts don’t miss anything that happens on the field during an event like this, held Wednesday and Thursday at Fowler Park on the University of San Diego campus. Batting practice sssions were scrutinized, as were the infield-outfield workout and, of course, game action.

And at the end of a 15-hour day on Wednesday, it was obvious that the PG scouts writing the live blogs had come to appreciate the efforts of local 2021 middle-infielder Marcelo Mayer:

“(Mayer) made a ‘wow’ play at second base, ranging to his right and back-handing a ball deep up the middle. In one motion, he flipped the ball with his glove to the shortstop for a bang-bang force-out at second base.”

Making plays like that one is a big reason Mayer has risen to No. 34 overall in PG’s class of 2021 national prospect rankings (No. 5 California) and No. 13 in the national shortstop rankings (No. 1 California); he is a U. of Southern California commit.

A 6-foot-3, 180-pound, left-handed hitter from nearby Chula Vista, Mayer chose to make the Under AA Games the first showcase event of his PG career. After day-one, it certainly appeared to be going quite well.

“It’s always fun playing baseball, especially here with these great guys,” Mayer told PG on Wednesday. “There’s a lot of good talent here so you just have to go out and show what you’ve got.”

The Underclass All-American Games are the ninth PG event Mayer has attended but, as mentioned, the first showcase, and he didn’t plan on changing his approach at all. It can be a natural impulse to try to go out and show a little bit more in front of the scouts and the college coaches in attendance just because every player here is so talented but Mayer thought he’d be able to stay relaxed.

“It’s a really good environment,” he said. “You get to show what you’ve got with all these people here; there’s a lot of scouts in the (stands) so that’s always good.”

Mayer’s father, Enrique Mayer, told PG on Wednesday that he and his son have been aware of Perfect Game for several years now, but Marcelo wasn’t at any events in 2018 because the travel ball team he was with didn’t enter any tournaments.

They were anxious to get involved again this summer and Mayer earned all-tournament team recognition playing with the San Diego Show at the PG WWBA 17u National Championship in Georgia in early July.

With the Underclass All-American Games taking place practically in their backyard, it seemed like a no-brainer for Mayer to make his showcase debut at this event; his dad knew he would be up for the task.

“He’s obviously a little bit nervous – he wants to do well,” Enrique said. “The only thing that I told him and his coaches told him was just go in and do your thing. You’ve been playing baseball for most of your whole life and you know what you’re doing, so just go out there and play the game that you love.”

“(Mayer) showed some of the easiest bat speed observed, (with) a great approach, hitting hard line drives to the middle of the field throughout his (BP) round. The swing is sound and he repeats well with great timing. The power projects big when he learns to create space.”

Mayer describes himself as a high-energy player and a good teammate, two traits that he takes a lot of pride in possessing. He also takes a lot of pride in his play defensively, something that is very important to any elite-level shortstop.

As a youngster, Mayer played a lot of soccer, basketball and golf in addition to baseball and he continues to play basketball and golf albeit only a recreational level. Baseball has always been his first love, so to speak, and he has a real fondness for the game’s intrinsic characteristics.

“It’s the best sport in the world,” he said. “The sound of the ball hitting the bat, playing catch; I just enjoy everything about it.”

Marcelo Mayer credited his dad with having the biggest influence on his baseball career to date. Enrique was the one who was out there practicing with him every day, teaching his son the little things that go a long way toward making a good ballplayer an even better one. He said he felt fortunate that he’s been able to spend so much time with his dad on baseball fields near and far.

Enrique and his wife Myriam have an older son, also Enrique, who the elder Enrique started coaching when the son was 5 years old. With his oldest son, Enrique said he made the mistake of treating the whole process like a sprint more than the marathon it actually is.

He learned from his mistakes and with Marcelo he’s tried to groom him into realizing that this is a long-term process. He tries to make his youngest son realize that he’s a person who just happens to play baseball.

“If you happen to not make it in baseball as far as you want to that doesn’t mean you don’t have a life outside of baseball,” Enrique said. “I try to instill in him to work hard, respect the game, respect your teammates and God’s going to tell you how far you’re going to go in this game.”

Mayer played travel ball with the San Diego Stars when he was younger and joined the San Diego Show this past summer; he’s been named all-tournament at five events. “There are great coaches at both places and I want to say thank you to them. They really develop players really well, so I owe it to them, to be honest,” he said.

Added Enrique: “I think the Stars are really good with the young kids. They taught him how to play the game the right way and he was always surrounded by the best talent here. And at this stage, we’re now with the Show and those guys do a fantastic job.”

“(Mayer) continued to show his smooth left-handed swing in game-play, turning on a pitch that absolutely exploded off the bat.  He later took an extra base on a ball in the dirt and scored on a hit to right field.  He has impressive tools (and) his feel for the game is equally impressive.”

It’s that feel for the game that can probably explain Mayer’s lofty rankings more than anything else. He looks at those numbers – many are of the single-digit variety – and they motivate him to work even harder so they all move into single-digits.

And here he is, at an event that is also showcasing top-20 2021s like No. 9 Irving Carter from Florida, No. 10 Thomas Dilandri from Nevada, No. 15 Ian Moller from Iowa, No. 16 Alex Ulloa from Florida and No. 19 Lucas Torres from Puerto Rico, and top-15 2022s like No. 7 Matthew Porchas (California), No. 9 Andruw Jones (Georgia), No. 13 Cole Young (Pennsylvania) and No. 14 Tyler Gough (California). “We all mesh together and try to learn from each other’s games; try to each other stuff,” Mayer said.

Enrique encourages Marcelo to take the approach of “whatever happens, happens.” He reminds his son that scouts aren’t dumb and they understand hitting streaks and slumps are all part of the game. It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to them if a young prospect goes 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in one game and 4-for-4 with four home runs in the next one. It’s a long-term progress, he tells him, so just go out there and play, try to have fun and always give 100 percent effort.

The elder Mayer played high school baseball in Arizona and even went to Mexico to play in a league down there for five years, but soon hung up his spikes and began to do some coaching. He’s coached a lot of kids at all talent levels over the years, and he watches with an intense interest while these upper-echelon players – the top prospects – go about their business.

It’s how they carry themselves, more than anything. There doesn’t appear to be any outward envy or jealousy between the boys, only a lot of camaraderie and teamwork – heck, they’re all buddies.

“We can go to Georgia, we can go to Arizona, we can go all over the place and Marcelo knows people,” Enrique said with a laugh. “We can walk into a (grocery store) in Atlanta and he’s hugging people and I think, man, this kid knows everybody. And I owe that all to this travel ball thing.”

The last of the Scout Blogs from the PG Underclass All-American Games will be posted by days end on Thursday. PG personnel will then start directing their full attention toward Sunday’s nationally televised All-American Classic at the Padres’ Petco Park downtown.

Marcelo and Enrique will head north to Long Beach so Marcelo can compete at the Underclass All-American Games. He can do so knowing his first go-around at a PG showcase was a memorable one.

“What I’d really like to see him get out of this is to learn, maybe, how to perform under pressure,” Enrique concluded. “As he gets older and older and if he continues down the same path he’s going to be playing in front of people that are going to be making important decisions. … You’ve got to learn how to control you emotions, control your nerves, and block everything out and just do your thing.”

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