SALISBURY, Md. - Drafted by the Orioles out of a Florida high school in round four of the 2020 draft, third baseman Coby Mayo had to wait to start his pro career with no minor league season last year. Then, when this season began, he injured his knee in spring training in April and his chance to begin the minor league season for opening day in May was over.
There was more waiting and some rehab. But his day finally came this year in late June in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League and the 19-year-old right-handed hitter got his offense going quickly. He went 8-for-16 in his first five pro games.
Before the Orioles promoted him to low Single-A Delmarva this week, he batted .329/.440/.566/.1.005 over 25 games in the FCL with six doubles, four homers, five stolen bases and 15 RBIs. He walked 13 times and fanned 14.
“Getting the opportunity to work with some good hitting coaches and get everyday repetitions and at-bats every day has been good,” Mayo said before yesterday’s game at Perdue Stadium. “Real excited to be here and get started. Getting used to being in the box again after a year and a half of not getting at-bats. Been seeing the ball well and taking advantage when pitchers leave the ball over the plate.”
Now Mayo is with 12 draft picks from the O’s 2021 class at Delmarva. They all were officially promoted and added to the low Single-A Shorebirds roster yesterday. The Shorebirds got a major transformation and it was like the first day of school Tuesday at Perdue Stadium.
And the new kids on the block did OK.
They had no hits through four innings and went on to rout Fredericksburg 10-1, as the Shorebirds improved to 49-42 for the season and to 1-0 with their new-look roster.
For Mayo, he’s in a situation where he has more pro experience than the ‘21 drafted players and he’s been in the organization for over a year now. But these new Delmarva players from this draft class are older than him with all of them college-drafted players. For instance, Mayo is 19, while top draft pick Colton Cowser and second-round pick Connor Norby are 21.
They were like a team within a team when they were added to the Orioles’ two FCL rosters, where Mayo already was playing. Now, as they moved up to Delmarva, Mayo moved with them.
“They’ve really taken me in,” Mayo said of the ‘21 draft class. “I’m the young guy. Even though I’ve been here for a year, still the young one in the group. One high school signee this year in the draft. These guys have been really, really good to me and I’m glad we got to all come up together and make a playoff run.”
Mayo said he has worked hard on his defense and put some extra winter work in specifically in that area.
“With my trainer this offseason, we did a lot of footwork and drills,” he said. “Just trying to get the footwork better. Baseball comes down to getting those reps and being out there and feeling comfortable.”
Scouts have put a 70 grade on his arm, so that is big-time arm strength. Mayo got a big overslot signing bonus of $1.75 million to sign in round four last year out of Stoneman Douglas High School, a school that has produced the likes of Anthony Rizzo and Jesús Luzardo.
He is rated as the Orioles’ No. 14 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, which graded his power as 60, and is rated No. 15 in the O’s top 30 by Baseball America.
Mayo, the O’s are hopeful, will grow fully into a big 6-foot-5 frame and produce big future power. He says he doesn’t go to bat trying to hit homers, but just to hit the ball hard, which will then produce them.
What have the O’s hitting coaches told him and discussed with him in their evaluations?
“Keeping the ball in the air,” he said. “Kid like me, you don’t want balls on the ground. The more I hit the ball in the air, the more chances I have to hit the ball over the fence and that’s really the ultimate goal. I want to be a big power hitter in this organization and try to be like one of those big guys in MLB one day.”
In Tuesday’s win, Mayo batted cleanup with Cowser hitting third. Mayo went 1-for-5. He doubled and scored when Delmarva scored seven runs in the sixth to break the game open.
The Shorebirds started eight 21’ draftees along with Mayo last night. Those batters started the game 0-for-13, then went 10-for-20 to end the game. Cowser went 1-for-3 with a double and also reached on a walk and error. He showed the good exit velocity scouts saw out of him at Sam Houston State. He hit a comebacker to the mound at 100 mph in the first inning and drilled his double into right-center at 102 mph in the eighth.
Catcher Connor Pavalony, a seventh-round pick from Tennessee, hit his first pro homer, a two-run shot with a 101 mph exit velocity in the fifth and doubled in two more runs an inning later. Batting eighth, first baseman Jacob Teter, 13th-rounder from Florida Southern, went 2-for-3 with a double and two-run single. Every player in the Delmarva lineup had a hit, save for leadoff batter left fielder Reed Trimble, and he drove in a run with a groundout.
Winning pitcher Houston Roth allowed a run over five innings to improve to 7-2 with an ERA of 3.63. Three 2021 draft picks - fifth-rounder Carlos Tavera, 16th-rounder Peter Van Loon and 18th-rounder Conor Grady - threw a scoreless inning each. Tavera, the highest-drafted O’s pitcher in this class, fanned two in the seventh inning and his fastball touched 96 mph.
The Shorebirds were 33-16 at the end of June. But then they went 15-26. Now with the influx of the draft picks and the changes to their roster, they hope to make a playoff run. They are five games out of a playoff spot with 29 games to play.
Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez did not get a decision last night, allowing two hits and one run for Double-A Bowie in a loss to Reading. Over three August starts, Rodriguez is 1-0 with an ERA of 0.61 and a WHIP of 0.55. In 14 2/3 innings, he has given up six hits and one run with two walks to 23 strikeouts.