Trainer on Coby Mayo: “We started seeing that he’s the real deal"

The memory still makes Tom Flynn laugh. The sound rings in his ears like the ones created each time that Coby Mayo smacked another baseball.

Mayo was an 8-year-old hitter on his Little League team in South Florida. The Spanish-speaking players in the Latino community would affectionately bark out his nickname after another home run.

“Coby always had a lot of pop in his bat and they used to call him ‘The Hammer.’ ‘El Martillo,’” Flynn said last week.

“They called him that all through Little League. And he had a different stance, too. He used to lean back with his front leg real straight and long, and just turn on balls and explode on them. ‘El Martillo!’”

Flynn goes back much further with Mayo, the Orioles’ fourth-round draft pick in 2020. Mayo was 4 and a preschool classmate of Flynn’s son, Colin. They played travel ball together and were high school teammates.

A small world tightens with Flynn now working with Mayo as director of strength and conditioning at TBT Training in Boca Raton, Fla. They meet up six days a week in the offseason, 1 ½ to two hours, with rest coming on Sundays.

“He started training with me for All-Stars and Little League around 12, just light stuff. And then through high school, once we saw him being a prospect, he got more serious with his training,” Flynn said.

“We vary the workouts, but our format is pretty much the same. He comes in, he starts warming up. There’s different things they do for their warmups, like foam rolling, soft tissue work. Then we go into a dynamic stretch, and we get into some dynamic movement. A lot of times we like to simulate some of the movements he’s going to do on the field, whether it’s traditional steal starts for some 10-yard accelerations. We do all kinds of bounding, power skips, throw med balls, and then we head back in and we do whatever power movements he has that day. We do power and strength back inside the gym after we do that dynamic stuff outside.”

(Bounding is a single-leg plyometric exercise used to develop power output in the lower body.)

Free weights also are incorporated.

“Yeah, we’re in the racks,” Flynn said.

“Big thing for Coby is he’s still fairly young and he hasn’t peaked out on strength yet. The Orioles have said they’d like to see him at like 240. He weighed in (Thursday) at 227, so he’s still maturing in his body. He’s still very young. I don’t see a problem with him probably ending up 235, and really moving well and having that quickness and reaction time.”

The strength keeps increasing, making Mayo one of the stronger athletes at the facility.

“He’s gotten there,” Flynn said. “Remember, we’re getting baseball strong. Different sports, different needs from a strength perspective. He has gotten himself there. He’s worked very hard.

“Coby’s long, and his freshman year of high school he might have grown 10 inches. All of a sudden, he was 6-5, and he was thin, so he had to work hard. He applied himself and dedicated himself, because he knew that would be important down the road.”

Maintaining flexibility is critical in a baseball player. He can’t just pile on muscle.

“Methods of training have really improved over the years,” Flynn said. “Our focus now is more on movement. We need to get to certain strength levels but we need to be able to move to make plays. Pitchers are a little different. There’s a different mindset than position guys. Our position guys, we simulate a lot of the movements in each workout. He’s working on being mobile, explosive and powerful and strong.”

Flynn said he first recognized that Mayo could be a draft prospect around age 14 or 15.

“We started seeing that he’s the real deal,” Flynn said.

“Everyone speculated through youth ball, because he played on the best teams, he played on the big stages and the big championships with travel ball, So, we knew he had talent, but that’s when we really started seeing that he was going to be a force, especially when he grew like that. You can’t coach size.”

Flynn has trained multi-sport athletes from Olympic swimmers to Taekwondo and figure skating, and he began specializing with baseball players in 2007. He still works with Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

“Anthony was part of Coby’s early life and he continues to be part of Coby’s life today,” Flynn said. “They train and hit together often. He’s been a good mentor for Coby.”

The qualities in Mayo that tend to impress Flynn the most don’t relate to bat-to-ball skills and the cannon arm at third base.

“Once he got drafted, I noticed how serious he took it and how he came to understand that this is his profession now,” Flynn said. “I watched him dedicate himself to the profession, and all of the outside stuff, not just the field stuff. Developing himself, his character, himself as an individual.

“I know he’s done some exercises with the Orioles and some of the books they’ve had him read, and they’ve had their group read. That’s why I really feel like they have a special group there. I was around the 2014, ’15, ‘16 Cubs and that was a special group. I used to travel every two weeks to work with Rizz in-season. I think that’s what you’ve got going on with Baltimore. You’ve got a special group going on there and they’re doing the right things. (Brandon) Hyde was in Chicago when Anthony was there, so I used to see him a lot over there and he carried over some of that stuff.

“I watched Coby dedicate himself to his profession, but (last) year, after him being away another year on his own, living on his own, playing ball and thriving – thank you God – he’s going to be that leader. He’s got it. He’s aware of the situations, whatever they are. He has full awareness and he’s present and he’s understanding all that needs to be done in that present situation and environment. He’s there. I see him looking after other guys who train, because sometimes we have some groups. I see Coby having that leadership awareness that’s necessary to make the right call at the right time.”

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