Darell Hernaiz was 19 to start the 2021 baseball season. Coby Mayo hasn’t made it to 20 yet.
And still, both players are proving that the world of professional baseball isn’t too much for them, as both are coming off solid starts to their careers as Baltimore Orioles prospects.
Mayo, a third baseman, and Hernaiz, primarily a shortstop, impressed while playing for the team’s low Single-A team in Delmarva. Mayo, the team’s No. 17 prospect, was promoted from the Florida Complex League to the Shorebirds in mid-August and ended up playing 27 games. He batted .311 for that span, hitting five home runs and driving in 26 runs and compiling an OPS of .963. He played all 233 innings with Delmarva at third base.
Meanwhile, Hernaiz, the No. 23 prospect, spent more time with the team but also turned in encouraging results. Hernaiz played 94 games with Delmarva and batted .277 with 12 doubles, six home runs and 52 RBI. More of a speed guy than a power hitter, Hernaiz scored 62 runs and stole 22 bases in 28 attempts.
The two have been high on the Orioles’ radar since their acquisitions. For Hernaiz, that occurred in 2019, when the Puerto Rican was taken in the fifth round from Americas High School in El Paso, Texas. He played 2019 with the Orioles’ Gulf Coast League affiliate, batting .263 in 29 games.
Mayo, an emerging slugger at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2020 draft out of Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. In his first year of minor league play, Mayo batted .329 in 26 games in the FCL with a 1.005 OPS.
Mayo was signed above slot at $1.75 million, and when you read his scouting report, you understand why the Orioles felt the urge to splurge a smidge. Mayo sounds like a pure power hitter, with, according to his scouting report via MLB.com, “freakish raw strength” that allows him to “flat-out crush the ball.”
The report includes several other promising terms - “loud contact,” “significant bat speed,” “light-tower power” - but it also includes some areas of concern or at least need for improvement. The report says Mayo struggles with consistent contact and is a big swinger that strikes out a good amount, and the statistics suggest as much. Playing 27 games - exactly one-sixth of a big-league season - Mayo struck out 26 times, a 156-whiff pace for 162 games. Considering that that came against Single-A pitching, contact will assuredly be a point the Orioles stress in his development.
Baltimore will also have to work with Mayo on his defense, as he fielded at an .885 clip this season while making six errors in the 27 games.
Hernaiz, who chose signing with the Orioles over a college career at Texas Tech, is, according to his report, raw at shortstop while developing power at the plate. He has a good start with his athleticism, and he has a natural feel for the game that includes “good instincts and an above average internal clock defensively.”
With Hernaiz, plenty more still needs to be determined. He could stick at shortstop, move to second, or even go on to a corner infield position. He’s a speedy contact hitter, though that could change if he puts on muscle to start seeing his power numbers go up. His start is to his career is encouraging, it just remains to be seen which direction he will go with his progression.
Mayo and Hernaiz have some work upcoming, as both will be going to Sarasota for the instructional fall league, which will hope to provide a bridge leading from this season to getting ready for 2022. As for when the two players could hope to make the big club, that’s a date that’s still far off. MLB.com has Mayo’s ETA at 2024 and Hernaiz’s at 2025, reflecting that Mayo’s skill set is likely set up better for a quick rise, but neither one will be threatening for a spot anytime soon.
Instead, they’ll be able to grow at a gradual pace. Hopefully their first full seasons as 20-year-olds have more of what we got to see this year.
Previous 2021 Orioles prospect reviews: Ryan McKenna, Alexander Wells, Brnovich/Peek/Pinto, Diaz/Bannon, Tyler Nevin, Vavra/Ortiz/Servideo, Zac Lowther, DL Hall/Rom, Hernandez/Basallo, Jahmai Jones, Hudson Haskin, Bradish/Smith
Tomorrow: Colton Cowser and Connor Norby