Marcelo Mayer prepares to hit for the Portland Sea Dogs during a game last June at Hadlock Field. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Marcelo Mayer is so happy – and healthy – to be here.

“It’s been a pretty long offseason since I got my last month and a half cut short last season,” he told the Boston Herald earlier this week. “It’s good to be back, being on the field. Being healthy too feels great.”

The organization’s No. 1 prospect, ranked No. 14 in the minors by Baseball America and No. 15 by MLB Pipeline, was limited to 78 games between High-A and the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs last season, and 91 the year before. So while his “main” goal is to make his major-league debut this year, the ultimate objective is staying healthy so he can keep developing.

“These last two years, I’ve gone through some injuries, my shoulder and my wrist,” he said. “A big one for me is just making sure I’m healthy on the field, which starts off the field. Last season was kind of a freak accident. I fell, I can’t really control that. Just doing whatever I can to stay on the field.”

Mayer, 21, grew up idolizing players from a wide range of teams, including a few New York Yankees. When he makes his debut, he’ll play against some of them.

“Where do I start? I love (Derek) Jeter, growing up, just because of the way he was,” he said. “I love Robinson Cano’s swing, and then, this wasn’t really my era but I love Chipper Jones as well. Obviously, (Francisco) Lindor, I love Lindor. I like shortstops, left-handed hitting shortstops. Right now I love watching Corey Seager play.”


He’s also a fan of the previous homegrown Red Sox shortstop.

“He’s a great player, he’s a great guy,” Mayer said of Xander Bogaerts. “When I got drafted, he was kind of the first guy I met. He was really cool to me.”

Mayer may be one of the most promising prospects to come out of the Red Sox system in years, but he’s a total team player. He lights up when talking about his talented teammates and other Sox minor leaguers. He also loves watching college baseball, so was excited to hear the Red Sox acquired Kansas City Royals prospect David Sandlin, who pitched for Oklahoma in the 2022 playoffs.

“No way! No way! That’s crazy,” Mayer said. “Looking forward to meeting him.”

He’s already forged a strong bond with two fellow top prospects, outfielder Roman Anthony and catcher Kyle Teel. Chief baseball officer Craig Breslow has pointed to them as the harbingers of the next era of winning in Boston.

“I love ‘em,” Mayer said of Anthony and Teel. “They’re some of my best friends. We’ve built some great relationships. I’m actually living with Roman this spring training, with a few other guys. It’s really fun. We have a really good clubhouse. And not only those guys, there’s a lot of great players in the minors that we have that I think can help the team win.


“I don’t know if I could single one guy out. There’s just so many guys, the list goes on. So many guys that are really good ballplayers and can help the team win. Christopher Troye, he’s a dog. I love the way he plays. Obviously Blaze Jordan, he’s a great player, great teammate, great guy, great baseball name. That just sounds like a big leaguer (name). There’s also Alex Binelas, Niko Kavadas. We have a few good arms. Actually we have a lot of good arms.

“There’s just so many guys, the list goes on.”

BRAYAN BELLO said Wednesday his agents have been engaged in extension talks with the Red Sox and a deal may be close. Asked if a deal was indeed close, Bello (through translator Carlos Villoria Benítez), responded “mas o menos” – which translates to “more or less” or “maybe” in English. He also responded “maybe” when asked if a deal could come together during spring training.

Bello’s hopefulness was evident during the conversation even if details were scarce. He said his representatives have talked with front-office members “in the last few weeks.”

“They’ve been talking to my agents. The agents have been the ones dealing with the team,” Bello said. “I told them if we have a good offer to let me know. I’m still looking at everything that’s going on, but they’re the ones who have taken care of that for me.”

Bello, who turns 25 in May, isn’t eligible for arbitration until after the 2025 season and isn’t scheduled to hit free agency until after 2028. But the Red Sox, after failing to lock up stars like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, and seeing them leave in their prime, vowed to be more aggressive in extension talks for young players who are far  from free agency.


Earlier this week, team president Sam Kennedy said the club had talked with “a number” of players about possible deals.

“I think we need to do a better job of making it personal,” Kennedy said. “And (new chief baseball officer Craig Breslow) is probably the absolute perfect person to do that, expressing what it means to be a career Boston Red Sox player. An organization has to show the commitment to winning and the commitment to wanting players to be here for their career. I think building those personal relationships and the connections with these guys — because they have choices and they have options — is something (Breslow) is focused on.

“Starting earlier is probably a lesson. We’ve not had a ton of success in extending our own guys. We have in the past and it’s been a great recipe for success. But I think starting those conversations earlier is a great idea.”

Bello has enjoyed success in his first two seasons. In 41 games (39 starts) since debuting in July 2022, he owns a 14-19 record and 4.37 ERA in 214⅓ innings. Last year he had a 4.24 ERA and 107 ERA+ in 28 starts.

Along with Lucas Giolito and Nick Pivetta, Bello is expected to anchor Boston’s rotation.

Asked what he values in extension talks, Bello said those conversations are ongoing.

“I don’t know. I guess it’s just not a lot of years but something that will be beneficial for both of us, for me and the team,” he said. “I don’t know what that will look like.”

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