Red Sox prospect Marcelo Mayer has been given given clearance to resume any and all baseball activities after missing the final two months of the 2023 season with a shoulder injury. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

BOSTON — Marcelo Mayer’s 2023 season was a reminder that, even for elite prospects, the road to the big leagues is seldom without its obstacles.

The year began well enough for the Boston Red Sox prospect, who slashed .290/.366/.524 at High A Greenville for the first 35 games, earning him a quick promotion to Double-A Portland. But not long after arriving at his next stop, Mayer battled a left shoulder impingement. Undaunted, Mayer played through the injury for several months before going on the IL in early August.

The numbers from Portland illustrate how limited Mayer was. In 43 games, the shortstop slashed just .189/.254/.355. When he looks back at his struggles, it’s difficult to know how much was the result of the shoulder and how much was him being overwhelmed by the challenges of being a 20-year-old at Double-A.

“I’d say a little bit of both,” he said. “My shoulder was hurting a little bit, but that’s no excuse. I should have said something earlier and the product that I put on the field is what people are going to see. Obviously, it wasn’t my best product, but I’m looking to put that in the past and get ready for this year.”

Mayer, the fourth overall pick in the 2021 draft, didn’t play again over the final two months and lost valuable development time. But with the start of spring training just weeks away, Mayer has been given clearance to resume any and all baseball activities.

“It’s obviously been a long and arduous road for him,” said Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham as the team wound down its winter Rookie Development program at Fenway Park, “and some ups and downs for sure. But we’re excited for him to come to spring training fully healthy and be ready to compete this year.”


In retrospect, Mayer admitted, it perhaps wasn’t the best idea for him to play through the pain and discomfort he began feeling in the shoulder soon after his promotion.

“I think a lot of that was on me,” he said, “not really knowing my body and not really knowing how to handle a full season or really communicate with my trainers. But looking forward now, that’s in the past and my shoulder is in a great spot. I started swinging a few days ago and I feel as good as ever, so I’m excited for the year.

“It was tough (playing hurt and losing time). Everyone wants to be on the field, everybody wants to play. This is what we do, what we love. When something happens and you get hurt, it does suck. But it’s part of the game and you learn and grow from injuries. I’ve learned a lot from this past season, and I’m excited to start this year healthy.”

Shortstop Marcelo Mayer, ranked as Boston’s top prospect by Baseball America, was promoted to the Sea Dogs on May 30 last year. He batted .189 with six home runs and 20 RBI in 43 games for Portland before his season was ended by a left shoulder injury. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Partly as a precaution, the Red Sox held him out of the recent minicamp hosted by Trevor Story in the Dallas area. Story had invited a bunch of middle infielders – major leaguers and prospects – and Mayer had looked forward to participating, But the Sox advised continuing to strengthen his shoulder and working out on his own over taking part.

Mayer is regarded by many as one of the two best prospects in the Red Sox’s system. Baseball America’s most recent rankings have him 14th in all of baseball. The Red Sox, naturally, view him as a future foundational piece.

Taking part in the Rookie Development Program in the last week has served to whet Mayer’s appetite for spring training and the year ahead.


“As a player, you want to play,” he said. “Obviously, my last two months last season got cut short, so I’ve been itching to be around the guys, be playing and just be around the clubhouse.”

Mayer has spent the offseason attempting to make up for the missed time and doesn’t believe his own timeline for promotion to the big leagues has been disrupted much.

“I think I’ve done a lot good work outside of getting plate appearances,” he said. “I think there’s a lot to baseball. (beyond that). It’s not just hitting in the box. There’s the weight room, there’s getting reps without swinging. I’ve made sure to do all I can without playing (games).”

He’ll no doubt get the opportunity to play in major league spring training games this spring. And while it’s likely he’ll start the year at Double A, it shouldn’t be long before he leapfrogs to Triple-A Worcester. After that, Fenway Park is not far away – literally and developmentally. While most have pegged his arrival in Boston for 2025, it would surprise few if he sped up that timetable and arrived in the second half of this season.

“That’s always the goal,” said Mayer. “Every baseball player, every minor leaguer wants to be in the big leagues as soon as possible. But I’m not there yet. I’m in the minors. I’ve got to take care of business first. I have to take it day by day, rep by rep because that’s what I need to do to get better.”

At least now, he can do all of that healthy.

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