Orioles minor league report: Coby Mayo putting up eye-popping numbers in Triple-A (2024)

Over the past three seasons, the Orioles have promoted seven of their top hitting prospects to the major leagues.

None of them hit as well as Coby Mayo is.

Through 95 career games in Triple-A, Mayo is hitting .284 with impressive power for a .944 OPS. The corner infield prospect acclimated well last year after joining the Norfolk Tides in July, but he’s been even better this spring with a 1.003 OPS.

Mayo, who Baseball America ranks as the 23rd-best prospect in the sport, is slashing .309/.370/.633 with 11 home runs — the most in the International League — and 32 RBIs in 33 games.

“When you’re in Triple-A performing well, you’re close,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said in late April. “You’re in the conversation.”

His .944 career OPS in Triple-A — the highest level in the minors — is better than those put up by Orioles stars Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman and every other hitting prospect when they were with the Norfolk Tides.

Nine hitting prospects drafted since Elias took over before the 2019 season have at some point become top 100 prospects on at least one major ranking and reached Triple-A. Seven have made their MLB debuts: Rutschman and Henderson in 2022; Joey Ortiz, Jordan Westburg, Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad in 2023; and Jackson Holliday in 2024. They all excelled at Triple-A — posting an OPS between .870 and .937 before their call-ups — but Mayo’s .944 OPS is the best among the group.

His 421 plate appearances are also more than all but Westburg, who played 158 games and took 714 plate appearances at Triple-A with an .899 OPS before his promotion in June. Connor Norby, who was once a top 100 prospect but isn’t any longer, has played the most at the level at 179 career games and is still waiting on his call.

Of course, there’s much more to prospect promotions than the total number of games and plate appearances at Triple-A and a player’s OPS at the level. Mayo, for example, was drafted out of high school in 2020’s fourth round, and his development at only 22 years old is far from over. Mayo is striking out nearly 30% of the time in Triple-A, and his defense at third base (his primary position) and first base (his secondary one) are unanswered questions. He’s made eight errors this season for a .936 fielding percentage — an unreliable defensive metric, but one of the only publicly available ones for minor leaguers.

Elias said in late April that Mayo’s glove is “naturally behind his bat” given his size (6-foot-5) and elite offensive ability. The club’s top executive said the club is still deciding “where to concentrate his defensive efforts.”

However, Mayo’s (and Norby’s) success at Triple-A over a sizable number of games could be proof that they’re ready for the big leagues — or, at least, ready for the chance. It also shows that it’s harder now than in previous years to get called up given Baltimore (23-11) is one of MLB’s best teams with more big league-caliber players than roster spots.

A big league call-up also doesn’t mean the player will stick. Holliday, Cowser, Kjerstad and Ortiz, whom the Orioles shipped to the Milwaukee Brewers in the Corbin Burnes trade, all spent time back in the minors after their MLB debuts. Holliday was in the majors for about two weeks before he was demoted.

“I will stress, as we’ve just experienced here, how significant this jump from Triple-A to the majors is, and you can’t just look at some of these Triple-A stats [and] kind of imagine those stats in the majors and that’s how it’s gonna go,” Elias said. “So, we have our methods for trying to predict when we think these guys are ready to be productive up here. As I’ve just demonstrated, those methods aren’t foolproof, but it’s the best that we have and we’re keeping an eye on those with him.”

Mayo is banging on the Orioles’ door, but other prospects in the minors are trying to climb the ladder, too. That’s why each week, The Baltimore Sun will break down five of the top performers in the Orioles’ prospect ranks and hand out some superlatives for those who didn’t make that cut.

Orioles minor league report: Coby Mayo putting up eye-popping numbers in Triple-A (1)

1. Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Chayce McDermott

Cole Irvin, John Means and Dean Kremer weren’t the only ones to deliver dominant starts this weekend. McDermott, the Orioles’ top pitching prospect, teamed up with Tides relievers Nolan Hoffman and Kaleb Ort on Friday for a combined no-hitter. He carried a bid for a perfect game into the seventh and ended his night with 11 strikeouts across 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He struggled with his command to begin the season, but McDermott, the Orioles’ Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2023, again flashed his sky-high upside. The 25-year-old was named the IL Pitcher of the Week for his performance.

2. Triple-A Norfolk left-hander Cade Povich

Povich didn’t lead the way in a combined no-hitter, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he does soon. The left-hander has started six games this season and has yet to allow more than one run in any of them. Povich, Baltimore’s No. 2 pitching prospect, has a 1.11 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings. His start last week — six innings, five hits, one run, four walks and five strikeouts — was perhaps his worst this season, which is a testament to how dominant he’s been this year.

3. Double-A Bowie catcher Samuel Basallo

Basallo also started the season slumping with a .555 OPS through 14 games. In 10 games since, he’s hit .306 with a 1.042 OPS, including two homers and seven RBIs last week. Basallo, the No. 11 prospect in baseball, also played behind the plate for the first time in a game since suffering a stress fracture in his elbow.

4. High-A Aberdeen catcher-first baseman Creed Willems

Willems isn’t near the level of Basallo, but he’s Baltimore’s second-best catching prospect and is off to a solid start to the season. The 2021 eighth-round pick, whom the Orioles convinced to sign out of high school by paying him more than the slotted value, was named the South Atlantic League Player of the Month after hitting .299 with six homers and 21 RBIs in April. Willems, who MLB Pipeline ranks as the Orioles’ No. 29 prospect, went 5-for-17 last week with three doubles.

5. High-A Aberdeen right-hander Juan Nuñez

Nuñez is one of many under-the-radar arms on Baltimore’s farm who is off to an excellent start. The 23-year-old surrendered two hits and one run across 4 2/3 innings with eight punchouts in his start last week. Nuñez, whom the Orioles acquired in the Jorge López trade at the 2022 deadline, has a 1.77 ERA in 20 1/3 innings this year. Baseball America ranks him as Baltimore’s No. 19 prospect.

Orioles minor league report: Coby Mayo putting up eye-popping numbers in Triple-A (2)

The top prospect not featured so far

Holliday, baseball’s consensus top prospect, didn’t go back to instantly dominating Triple-A pitching after slumping in the majors. He’s 6-for-30 (.200 average) with four doubles and nine walks versus nine strikeouts over the past eight games.

International acquisition of the week

Moisés Chace was part of the Orioles’ first international singing class in July 2019 after Elias and vice president of international scouting and operations Koby Perez took over. The Venezuela native has emerged as the best player of that class with a 0.95 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 19 innings for Aberdeen this spring. He threw four scoreless innings and allowed only one hit in his start last week.

Time to give a shoutout to …

Infielder Anthony Servideo was the Orioles’ best hitter on the farm last week. The 2020 third-round pick hasn’t delivered the returns that most of Elias’ top-five-round selections have, but he’s posted a .738 OPS this year after hitting .185 with a .546 OPS last year. The 25-year-old went 6-for-12 with two home runs and three walks for the Baysox last week.

Farm files

Utilityman Terrin Vavra, who debuted with the Orioles in 2022 and made the club’s opening day roster in 2023, began a rehabilitation assignment in the Florida Complex League on Sunday and will continue it with Aberdeen this week. Vavra’s 2023 campaign was derailed by a shoulder injury, for which he underwent surgery in the fall. … Outfield prospect Enrique Bradfield Jr. was activated off the injured list and returned to game action for the IronBirds. Bradfield, the Orioles’ first-round pick last summer, is Baltimore’s No. 5 prospect. … Pitching prospect Zach Peek was transferred to the 60-day IL with a stress reaction of his right scapula, the Orioles announced Friday. Peek, who had Tommy John elbow reconstruction in 2022, was one of the four pitchers Baltimore got back — in addition to Kyle Bradish — from the Los Angeles Angels in the Dylan Bundy trade. … Bowie right-hander Keagan Gillies, the Orioles’ No. 30 prospect according to Baseball America, was placed on the IL on Thursday with elbow inflammation, the club said. … Right-hander Kade Strowd was promoted from Bowie to Norfolk on Tuesday after striking out 11 in 10 1/3 scoreless relief innings.

Orioles minor league report: Coby Mayo putting up eye-popping numbers in Triple-A (2024)
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