Orioles third base prospect Coby Mayo, who was recently promoted to Low-A Delmarva from the Florida Complex League, has enjoyed a productive season in his first taste of pro ball … which isn’t surprising considering who he worked out with last offseason.
Mayo worked out with New York Yankees star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who like Mayo attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The two also share a trainer in South Florida-based Tom Flynn. Mayo actually played baseball growing up with Flynn’s son, and Rizzo would come out to games.
Mayo, 19, has been working out with Flynn for the past four or five years. This offseason, Flynn surprised him.
“This offseason I was working out and he was like, ‘Hey, you’re going to be working out with Anthony and Mike Napoli,'” Mayo said on Glenn Clark Radio Aug. 27. “Those are the guys that my trainer’s been training. It was like, ‘Whoa, OK.’ As weeks go by, months go by, we’ve just become pretty close. Six days a week working out together [and] going down to the beach for workouts.
“He’s so good to me. I’m really honored to call him one of my closer friends. It’s pretty awesome to work out with one of the greats in the game right now and one of the most liked guys around the league.”
Rizzo, 32, is a career .269/.369/.482 hitter with 247 home runs and 805 RBIs entering play Sept. 2. He was drafted out of high school by the Boston Red Sox in 2007 and eventually became a superstar with the Chicago Cubs before being traded to the Yankees at the deadline this year. But Rizzo had to overcome a major obstacle on his way to stardom. In 2008, his first year of pro ball, he was diagnosed with and treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer.
So what has Mayo learned from Rizzo?
“There’s going to be ups and downs. It’s not always going to be easy. He definitely proved that you can overcome anything in baseball,” Mayo said. “You’re going to have high days and you’re going to have really, really low days, but you’ve really just got to stay right in the middle and always keep going because every day’s a new day.”
Mayo rattled off several other South Florida products either in the big leagues or working their way there, including Atlanta Braves pitcher Touki Toussaint, Miami Marlins pitcher Jesús Luzardo and San Diego Padres reliever Shaun Anderson. Mayo is aiming to join them in the big leagues before long, and he’s off to a good start.
Mayo was drafted by the Orioles in the fourth round of the 2020 MLB Draft as a high-upside infielder with big-time raw power and arm strength. He signed for an over-slot bonus of $1.75 million to forego his commitment to Florida. Because of the pandemic, he didn’t get his first professional at-bats until this year in the FCL this year. He was promoted to Delmarva along with a host of 2021 draftees in mid-August.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound third baseman is hitting .301/.419/.528 with six home runs across the two levels this year entering play Sept. 2. He stressed that he doesn’t view himself as a prototypical power hitter with a lot of swing and miss.
“I’m not used to striking out a lot. I was always on base,” Mayo said. “I never really classified myself as a power hitter. As I got older, people started saying that more and more because I was hitting balls very far and I was very big. But I think people will see it’s not home run or a strikeout. It’s a lot more in between. It’s a lot more hard contact.”
Because of his size, there are questions about whether Mayo will be able to stick on the dirt. Right field is likely a viable fallback plan, but Mayo doesn’t want to hear about that. He was a shortstop at ages 8, 9 and 10, then moved to third in travel ball, then moved back to short in high school and now is at third in pro ball. That’s where he wants to stay long term.
“There’s always going to be people saying that you can’t do this, you can’t do that, but I think I’m proving to a lot of people that I am a third baseman and that’s where I want to be,” Mayo said. “I really work hard on my infield [preparation]. In the offseason people don’t see the work that I put in. It’s going to show itself, I think.”
To hear more from Mayo, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Joey Gardner