Red Sox

‘Dude, that kid is so good’: Opponents in Marcelo Mayer’s final prep game remember facing Red Sox pick

"If I was going to buy stock in somebody’s future, I’m buying a lot of stock in him."

Eastlake High shortstop Marcelo Mayer looks on during a CIF playoff game between Eastlake High School and San Marcos High School on June 17, 2021 in San Marcos, Calif. Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

Talking about Red Sox first-round draft pick Marcelo Mayer and the grand slam he hit on the final at-bat of his high-school career is pretty easy for Ayala High School baseball coach Chris Vogt — the opposing coach that day.

Primarily, of course, the fact that Mayer’s final at-bat came in a Southern California regional playoff game meant that Ayala beat Mayer’s Eastlake High School squad — an 8-6 victory made (slightly) more tense by Mayer’s seventh-inning heroics.

“I told my pitching coach, ‘This kid’s not going to win the game,'” Vogt told Boston.com. “‘Let’s just see how far he can hit it.'”

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Apparently, Mayer can hit a baseball pretty far. Ayala pitcher A.J. Juarez labored through the final inning, loading the bases with two out. As Mayer approached the plate, Vogt called out to Juarez reminding him Mayer couldn’t win the game by himself.

Juarez knew he needed to avoid a walk, so he gave the top prospect a hittable pitch. Mayer flicked his wrists and ripped it on a line over the right-field wall. Reports later estimated that the final pitch to Mayer in his high-school career landed 450 feet from home plate.

“I would be shocked if it got 30 feet off the ground,” Vogt said. “I mean, it was just tattooed.”

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Vogt didn’t mind. While Mayer’s homer resulted in four runs, it cleared the bases and forced Eastlake to restart its rally. Juarez, a talented reliever, gave up another walk before he struck out a batter to end the game.

Ayala’s players didn’t mind either.

“Honestly, him being the guy he is, everybody was kind of rooting for him,” Ayala infielder Luke Solis added. “I don’t think you could have written his last high school at-bat any better.”

The Ayala baseball team found out it was facing Eastlake a few days prior the contest. Before the game even began, Vogt was blown away watching a ball short-hop Mayer in warm-ups.

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“A lot of kids get real tight,” Vogt said. “He looked like he was bored. I don’t mean he was uninterested, it was just coming so easy to him. It looked like the game was in slow motion, and he was going full speed.

“He just looked different.”

Mayer’s brilliance was no surprise to Solis, a talented infielder in his own right. Solis — who committed to the Division I program at the University of California San Diego in 2019 — played in a scout league with Mayer in October and November.

Solis’s takeaway was Mayer’s down-to-earth nature, despite his status as a top prospect.

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“If you never met him before, you wouldn’t think anything of him,” Solis told Boston.com. “You wouldn’t know [he’s a top prospect] because he never talks about it. He interacts like he’s just another person.”

Solis didn’t know if Mayer remembered him months later, but Mayer texted Solis after their matchup was announced and chatted with him briefly before the game.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” Solis said. “He doesn’t act like he’s above anybody. … You can just tell he really values everyone he meets.”

Ayala eventually advanced to the state tournament, where the team finished a runner-up. Beating Eastlake was a footnote in the larger story of its season.

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However, Vogt remembers vividly — in addition to the grand slam — how Mayer got on top of a high fastball and lined it deep into the outfield in his first at-bat, and how easy fielding looked for him.

“There’s kids in our league who are in the bigs right now that I wouldn’t even consider close,” Vogt said. “This kid was better. … We have seven or eight kids that are going to pretty high-level Division I schools, and they were all just like ‘Dude, that kid is so good.'”

Watching the MLB Draft on Sunday, Vogt hoped the Pirates would take Mayer for the story — beating a future No. 1 pick in a playoff game has a nice ring to it in conversation.

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Instead, Ayala players and coaches will have to settle for watching the 18-year-old work his way up through the Red Sox’s system. Solis is excited for the Red Sox on Mayer’s behalf.

“They are getting a really great guy on and off the field,” he said. “He’s just a really good person that’s going to have a bright future for the Red Sox organization.”

Vogt came away with the same impression. Ayala players who interacted with Mayer reported back that he was kind and complimentary of his opponents. During a break in the action, Vogt queried Eastlake’s first-base coach about Mayer’s attitude and received rave reviews.

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“Forget that draft pick side, you don’t always get that with the talented kids,” Vogt said. “I think that’s really cool. …

“I’ve seen and coached against a lot of really talented kids. If I was going to buy stock in somebody’s future, I’m buying a lot of stock in him.”

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