Years ago, Rays prospect Mayo Acosta caught my eye. Why? His name- Acosta went by Mayobanex back then. I heralded him as the Rays prospect with the best name in the system. Since then, Acosta has shortened his first name to Mayo, supposedly less noteworthy, but probably just as much so because of its association with mayonnaise. In any event, Mayo Acosta is more than just a name now.
The past five years, the only thing keeping Mayo Acosta is that he’s a catcher. After signing with the Rays out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, Acosta posted a .243/.309/.364 line as he worked his way just from Rookie ball up to High-A. But he threw out 40% of attempted basestealers and that kept him in the system.
In 2012, Acosta began the season back at High-A Charlotte for his age 24 season. But something was different. Acosta was hitting, and not just that, hitting for power. In 22 games for Charlotte, Acosta posted a .278/.346/.514 line with 8 doubles, 3 triples, and 15 RBI. His CS% was still an outstanding 46%. But that wasn’t the story anymore. After just 1.5% of his plate appearances ended with a homer from 2007-2011 and just 7.4% of his plate appearances ended in an extra-base hit, Acosta ended 3.7% of his PA’s with a homer in those 82 plate appearances and an insane 13.4% ended with an XBH. The probability of those two events occurring if Mayo’s true homer and XBH rates stayed the same are .054 and .019 respectively (those are p-values from two separate 1-proportion Z-tests for you stat folks out there). After just 26.1% of his batted balls were flyballs in the outfield in 2011, he upped that to 36.4% in those 82 plate appearances. He was a different player. Sure, Acosta was a 24 year old in a league where the average age was just under 23. But his transformation was real.
After the injuries continued to pile up, Stephen Vogt was promoted back to the big leagues from Triple-A Durham. The Rays brought Acosta to Durham to replace him. Acosta has gone 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI in 5 plate appearances for the Bulls thus far. Can Acosta continue what he did for Charlotte? That has yet to be seen. But something is different with him. In a Rays organization with no real catching prospects at the upper levels, the Rays are hoping someone can break through. Maybe Mayo Acosta is that player.