Boston Red Sox Top 46 Prospects

Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Boston Red Sox. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. This is the third year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but I use that as a rule of thumb.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here.

Red Sox Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Marcelo Mayer 20.5 AA SS 2025 55
2 Miguel Bleis 19.3 A CF 2026 55
3 Triston Casas 23.4 MLB 1B 2023 55
4 Ceddanne Rafaela 22.7 AA CF 2024 50
5 Nick Yorke 21.2 AA 2B 2025 50
6 Masataka Yoshida 29.9 MLB LF 2023 45+
7 Roman Anthony 19.1 A RF 2026 45+
8 Shane Drohan 24.4 AAA SP 2024 45
9 Marvin Alcantara 18.6 R SS 2027 45
10 Wikelman Gonzalez 21.2 A+ SP 2025 45
11 Angel Bastardo 21.0 A+ SP 2025 45
12 Mikey Romero 19.4 A 2B 2028 45
13 Enmanuel Valdez 24.5 MLB 2B 2023 45
14 Eddinson Paulino 20.9 A+ 3B 2024 40+
15 Chase Meidroth 21.9 AA 3B 2027 40+
16 Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz 19.8 A SP 2026 40+
17 Bradley Blalock 22.5 A SP 2025 40+
18 Wilyer Abreu 24.0 AAA RF 2023 40
19 Chris Murphy 25.0 MLB MIRP 2023 40
20 Brandon Walter 26.8 AAA MIRP 2023 40
21 David Hamilton 25.7 AAA SS 2023 40
22 Yoeilin Cespedes 17.8 R 2B 2029 40
23 Brainer Bonaci 20.9 A+ 2B 2024 40
24 Luis Perales 20.2 A SIRP 2025 40
25 Yordanny Monegro 20.7 R SP 2026 40
26 Ryan Fernandez 25.0 AA SIRP 2024 40
27 Bryan Mata 24.1 AAA MIRP 2023 40
28 Luis Guerrero 22.9 AA SIRP 2025 40
29 Blaze Jordan 20.5 A+ 1B 2025 40
30 Juan Daniel Encarnacion 22.2 A+ SIRP 2024 40
31 Chih-Jung Liu 24.2 AA SIRP 2024 40
32 Ronaldo Hernández 25.6 AAA C 2023 40
33 Cutter Coffey 19.1 A SS 2028 35+
34 Stephen Scott 26.1 AAA C 2024 35+
35 Jedixson Paez 19.4 A SP 2026 35+
36 Luis Cohen 20.0 R SP 2027 35+
37 Enderso Lira 19.7 A C 2026 35+
38 Corey Rosier 23.8 AA LF 2025 35+
39 Allan Castro 20.1 A CF 2025 35+
40 Noah Dean 22.3 A SIRP 2026 35+
41 Christopher Troye 24.3 AA SIRP 2024 35+
42 Alex Hoppe 24.5 A+ SIRP 2026 35+
43 Joey Stock 25.8 A+ SIRP 2025 35+
44 Dalton Rogers 21.4 A+ MIRP 2026 35+
45 Tyler McDonough 24.2 AA CF 2025 35+
46 Jhostynxon Garcia 20.5 A CF 2027 35+
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55 FV Prospects

1. Marcelo Mayer, SS

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Eastlake HS (CA) (BOS)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 55/60 45/60 40/40 35/40 50

The top-ranked prospect in the 2021 draft, Mayer dropped to fourth overall, where the Red Sox were happy to scoop him up and sign him for a higher-dollar bonus than first overall pick Henry Davis. In his first full season, split between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville, Mayer slashed .280/.399/.489, hit 30 doubles and 13 homers, and was 17-for-17 on stolen base attempts as he continued the track record of premium offensive performance that he’s displayed since he was a high school underclassman. Back at Greenville to start 2023, Mayer slashed .290/.366/.524 through May and was promoted to Double-A Portland at the start of June.

Mayer doesn’t turn 21 until December and the fact that he’s hit his way to the upper levels already is incredible, both things to keep in mind as you read the next sentence. Mayer has a lot of underlying swing-and-miss happening, especially against softer stuff, including soft stuff that finishes in the meat of the strike zone. I don’t want to fuss over this a ton — ultimately Mayer’s swing is so beautiful and his hands are so explosive that he is very likely to be an impact offensive player — but it is a wart of his right now. Synergy doesn’t have a complete sample of every 2023 pitch, but against the approximately 250 non-fastballs Mayer has seen on tape as of list publication, he is hitting .098/.233/.118. His front side is fairly stiff through contact, which may be impacting his ability to scoop lower pitches, an issue similar to the one Jarred Kelenic and Spencer Torkelson had exposed once they reached the big leagues. Like the others, Mayer might eventually need to make an adjustment, but it’s hard to ask someone who’s hit like he has to do so proactively. Mayer’s best swings are perfect. He has very simple in-the-box footwork but is still clearly generating force with his lower half and hips, and his hands are lightning fast and generate loud all-fields contact. Especially for a potential shortstop, there should be enough offense to make Mayer an impact player even if he ends up striking out at an elevated rate.

I say potential shortstop because Mayer’s range and arm strength aren’t slam dunk fits there. He makes a lot of nice plays through feel and effort, but most big league shortstops are better than this. Mayer is so young that it’s plausible he could find a way to become rangier and profile there more comfortably. Here I have him projected at short, but as a 40-grade defender. It’s a version of the Corey Seager profile without quite as high of a ceiling.

2. Miguel Bleis, CF

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 55/70 25/65 50/50 30/50 55

Bleis signed for $1.5 million out of the Dominican Republic in January of 2021, and after a solid showing in the DSL that year, he created huge buzz on the complex in Fort Myers throughout 2022 because of his bat speed and power. This is one of the toolsiest prospects in all the minors and was one of the players on the overall Top 100 who entered 2023 with a chance to “Chourio,” i.e. leap into the top-10 mix within the next year. Instead Bleis had a rough first month of full-season ball, strained his left shoulder during a swing at the end of May, and ended up needing season-ending surgery. Bleis slid to the back of the 55 FV tier in a small May Top 100 update before the injury occurred. The shoulder complicates things, but his evaluation really hasn’t changed, even with the early 2023 struggles. Bleis has All-Star talent and just about all of his underlying indicators suggest he’s a better hitter than his surface stats do, though he is more chase-prone than is ideal.

Bleis has all-world bat speed and rare rotational athleticism. His swing is a little odd and upright, and his hands load with a bit of a hitch, but he is still able to guide the barrel around the zone and produce shocking raw power for such a lithe teenage hitter. Though he’s of relatively narrow build, he still oozes projection, and his present footspeed gives him room to fill out and slow down some while remaining in center field. He’s a “maybe” in center, fast enough to develop there but procedurally raw, especially when it comes to communicating with the other outfielders. Even though his career walk rates are extremely low (around 7%) for a low-minors prospect (where pitchers often struggle to throw strikes), Bleis’ chase rates in 2022 and early 2023 were closer to average. Whether he adjusts to more cautious and competent pitching as he moves through the minors we just won’t know until it happens, but the more granular statistical indicators here (what Bleis’ underlying contact and chase rates are relative to his strikeout and walk performance) suggest he’s going to improve in these areas. Even if you dismiss that, the measurable power that’s already here is incredible and reinforces the visual evaluation of Bleis’ electric talent. His rate of hard, impact contact is near the top of the scouting scale when you adjust for age and is already comfortably plus relative to the big league rates in some areas (like barrel rate). When you bounce his skill set off of those of recent top high school prospects, Bleis’ compares favorably. He has the talent of a top five draft pick and enough upside to value Bleis as a top 50 prospect despite his volatility.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from American Heritage HS (FL) (BOS)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 252 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 70/70 55/70 30/20 40/40 50

This isn’t going especially well. Casas has enough big league at-bats to have lost rookie eligibility, so this isn’t an update on his report so much as it is an early reflection on his offseason scouting report. He’s hitting just north of .200 as of publication and performing at a slightly below-replacement level. While his xwOBA (about .340) indicates he’s due for positive regression, that mark is still south of what’s average at first base. It’s likely Casas will improve as he enters his “prime” and gets used to facing the nastiest pitching on the planet, but when you project a hitter to be better than the average starting first baseman throughout the first half decade of his career and he starts things off with a season under replacement-level water, it’s going to be tough to be right about that. ZiPS has projected Casas as more of a 45-grade player and that’s closer to what I’d project now than his pre-season scouting eval. It’s a reminder to take the under on 1B/DH-only athletes most of the time.

Here is Casas’ offseason report: Casas spent most of 2022 with Triple-A Worcester and hit .273/.382/.481 there amid a two-month absence due to a high ankle sprain. He debuted with Boston late in the season and flashed the titanic power that promises to make him a valuable big league regular, and also ran the high walk and strikeout rates that readers should expect from him going forward. He went to the Dominican Winter League to be part of Licey’s prospect-studded lineup (Elly De La Cruz, Ronny Mauricio, and a few others were also on that roster at the start of the LIDOM season), but a knee injury ended that jaunt after just three games. While manager Alex Cora has indicated that they’ll spell Casas versus the occasional lefty starter, he entered the spring poised to break camp with the big league team and put together a hot Grapefruit League performance.

A career .269/.374/.485 hitter in the minors, some front office analyst sources who provided feedback on the Top 100 list are skeptical Casas will make enough contact to profile comfortably as an above-average regular at first base. He struggles with softer stuff in the bottom of the strike zone, and his in-zone and overall contact rates in 2022 were 78% and 70% respectively, similar to Nolan Gorman, Franchy Cordero, Bobby Dalbec and others who have tantalizing power but have sometimes been frustrating big league hitters. But in Casas’ case, there is so much power that he profiles as an above-average big league run producer at first base. Injuries and the pandemic have limited him to just 284 career minor league games since he was drafted in 2018, and his bat-to-ball skill has projection deep into his mid-20s as he continues to gain actual pro experience. The amount of power here is sensational: Casas is capable of hitting huge tanks to all parts of the ballpark, and his hard-hit rate in 2022 was a whopping 50%, which would have been top 15 among qualified big league hitters. A lumbering, heavy-bodied athlete, his injury track record is also a bit of a concern. Part of Boston’s motivation to DH him sometimes and caddy for him with righty-hitting corner bats against some lefty starters is to manage his workload with this in mind. This combined with the undercooked hit tool might lead to some big league growing pains and medium production at first, but over time, Casas should become a middle-of-the-order force capable of hitting 35-plus annual homers.

50 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Curacao (BOS)
Age 22.7 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 152 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 45/50 35/50 60/60 70/80 55

Rafaela had a breakout 2022 season, hitting .299/.342/.539 mostly at Double-A Portland. And even though he has some approach-driven bust risk (he swings at just about everything) and has had an offensive swoon early in 2023, he does enough other stuff to project in a prominent big league role if his chase proves too much for him to be an everyday player. For one, he’s a Gold Glove-caliber center field defender, capable of making tough plays look easy and impossible plays possible, especially around the wall. That’s mind blowing when you consider that Rafaela has only been playing the outfield for a little over two years. Here he’s projected to continue to improve on defense as he gains more experience, which would make him perhaps the best defensive center fielder in baseball at peak. Rafaela is also capable of playing a couple of spots on the infield, though not nearly as well; unless his approach is actually a problem and shifts him into a premium utility role, he’s probably just going to play center field all the time.

Rafaela’s stance is Mookie Betts-like, his swing rhythmic and athletic, though he doesn’t take very discerning at-bats, chasing at a whopping 40% clip in 2022 and again so far in 2023. Despite that extreme amount of chase, he only struck out at a 21% rate last season and also doubled his previous career high in homers with 21. Most of Rafaela’s underlying contact rates and measurable power data is middling, and his peak exit velos aren’t what you’d typically expect from a 20-homer threat, except he does seem to hit the ball fairly hard and in the air frequently relative to his peak exits. There might be more game power here than there is raw power, or at least more game power than you’d expect from someone who has some approach-related red flags. There’s still risk that Rafaela walks the Cristian Pache path, as his issues are similar to the ones that have apparently undone the young Phillies outfielder. More likely is that he’s akin to Kevin Pillar, and there are scouts who think Rafaela’s frame will continue to add strength such that he hits for more power than Pillar was able to at peak.

5. Nick Yorke, 2B

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Archbishop Mitty HS (CA) (BOS)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 55/55 40/55 45/45 30/40 40

Yorke was the biggest surprise of the 2020 draft’s first round. He was a known bat-first prospect from California, but time off recovering from a shoulder surgery and the pandemic made him tough to evaluate properly before the draft — tough enough that he was not generally seen as a first-round prospect. His 2021 pro debut was a rousing success, as he hit .325/.412/.516 across two A-ball levels as a teenager. In contrast, his 2022 was a tough-luck grind, as he hit just .231 at Greenville and dealt with myriad injuries, including turf toe, back stiffness, and wrist soreness that reared its ugly, uh, wrist during the regular season and again when he went to Arizona to pick up reps in the Fall League. When he was healthy in Arizona, Yorke looked quite good, and he stuck around on the offseason Top 100 despite his regular season stats.

Despite lackluster production at High-A last year, the Red Sox still bumped him up to Portland to start 2023 and Yorke has hit the ground running, producing at a 146 wRC+ clip through May. Even though he’s hitting well, Yorke is still swinging and missing in the strike zone more than the average hitter, which is odd considering his reputation and track record when healthy. He has clusters of slider whiffs on the outer edge and fastballs at the top of the zone, but he’s also making contact with plenty of pitches in those areas; they aren’t true holes in his swing. He’s often late on fastballs out away from him, but it looks like a timing issue more than an inability to get the barrel there. Yorke’s swing starts with his hands on top of his head — when you watch him from the open side, it looks like he’s trying to see if his left armpit smells before his move to the ball starts. He doesn’t have a big leg kick, but it is a long, slow move forward that really builds energy in Yorke’s back side before he unleashes plus bat speed. It’s a sweet-looking righty cut that could use a two-strike version to help him cover the outer edge. So long as he can stay at second base, Yorke still profiles as an everyday bat with a balanced hit/power combo.

45+ FV Prospects

International Free Agent (BOS)
Age 29.9 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 176 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
70/70 45/45 35/40 45/45 40/40 30

As with Kodai Senga, this is more of a check-in on the way Yoshida was evaluated over the winter than it is a forecast for his future. I was light on this guy by a lot — he’s playing like a 60. The tool grades are mostly correct, except for my assessment of Yoshida’s game power. He has an 8 bat and is slugging .467 as of publication. I didn’t so much underestimate how much contact Yoshida would make, as I underestimated the quality of that contact. He’s an unbelievably skilled hitter who quickly adjusted to the quality of big league stuff after a little bit of a slow start. You just don’t know whether a hitter is going to be able to hit major league velocity until they do it, and in Yoshida’s case he is really doing it, slashing .366/.438/.610 against fastballs 95 mph and above as of June 6. I maintain that you can get this guy out by executing soft stuff down-and-away from him, and I will note that as well as Yoshida is playing, he is actually tracking beneath what the models projected for him before the season.

Here’s my offseason report with some fat trimmed out. The entire original report is still saved on the International Players section of The Board: While Yoshida’s skill set is shaped in an extreme hit-over-power style atypical of a big league corner outfielder, there are others who have had success with similarly tailored talent, most especially Steven Kwan and Jeff McNeil, with the likes of Tony Kemp and Jurickson Profar providing a look at the bottom of what an acceptable range of performance outcomes for Yoshida would be. This guy can hit. Yoshida is a career .327/.421/.539 hitter in NPB with more walks than strikeouts; the last two seasons, he’s actually walked twice as often as he’s struck out. Even though he’s not very physical and is a left field-only guy, he’s arguably elite at the game’s most important skill. His ability to maneuver the barrel around the zone by altering not only his hands but also the overall posture of his body is very special, and there isn’t a spot in the strike zone where he can’t make contact with the baseball.

But while Yoshida is such an explosive rotator for his size that his bat often strikes the ground behind him at the end of his follow through, he hits the ball on the ground a lot, with a GB% in the 47–51% range for the last six seasons. Opposing pitchers can limit his ability to do damage by working him with soft stuff down and away, though Yoshida is still going to find a way to put the ball in play. His measly 5% swinging-strike rate was seventh-best among qualified NPB hitters in 2022, and only one of the hitters ahead of him could muster more than three homers; Yoshida yanked out 21. Among the best contact hitters in NPB, he separated himself with how much power he got to (note from Future Eric: in retrospect, this was a key detail). The hit tool is going to translate, and his plate discipline probably will, too; his 23% O-Swing% would put him among the majors’ 10 most selective outfielders. The contact/OBP combo should enable him to produce in the 1.5–2 WAR range, similar to the last couple seasons of Andrew Benintendi or a more patient Alex Verdugo. It’s possible that the amount and quality of contact Yoshida makes gives him a higher power ceiling than I anticipate.

7. Roman Anthony, RF

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Stoneman Douglas HS (FL) (BOS)
Age 19.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 50/60 30/55 55/50 30/55 50

I wrote up Anthony as a projection corner outfield prospect with hit tool risk last year and it has already turned out to be an inaccurate description of his prospectdom. Anthony is generating a lot of discussion across scouting, not because he’s involved in trade talks or anything, but because he is a super weird (and potentially very exciting) player on paper, and he also checks a lot of traditional scouting boxes. He is indeed a projectable lefty-hitting outfield prospect with raw power that’s already approaching big league average, and Anthony also sports one of the lower swinging strike rates in the minors at just shy of 6%. An above-average runner, there are scouts who think Anthony will also become a viable center fielder, essentially making him a five-tool talent.

Look under the hood and things start to become more complex. For one, Anthony’s feel for the outfield is not good right now. He’ll run in the 4.1-4.2 range, which is good for a lefty hitter of his size, but aren’t the run times of a true burner. His strides eat up ground and it makes sense to try to develop him out there, but his reads, routes, and ball skills are all so rough right now that, while non-zero, his chances of actually playing center are remote, and I’m not comfortable projecting him there right now.

Offensively, Anthony’s statistical profile is very exciting. If you adjust for age, his peak exit velos are a 70 on the scouting scale (more 55/60 on the big league scale) and his bat-to-ball ability is plus. Regardless of position, what more could you possibly want from a projectable lefty bat than that? But let’s hold our horses. Anthony is also one of the most passive hitters in minor league baseball — he simply does not swing very often, and that includes at pitches right down the middle of the plate. In Low-A, that is going to make your surface stats look a certain way. Anthony also clearly has good breaking ball recognition, and he’s great at making in-flight adjustments to different pitch types, but his bat control is only fair; he isn’t a wood-wielding Jedi deflecting laser blasts or anything like that. His swing is also not built to take advantage of his raw power at all, as it’s downward-cutting and generates a lot of groundballs.

I don’t think what’s happening here is a mirage, but it is a caricature of Anthony’s ability, accentuated by an unsustainable level of passivity at the plate. I was still light on this guy before last year’s draft by a lot (I basically had a $750,000-$1 million evaluation on him, and he got an appropriate $2.5 million) and think Anthony’s power projection makes him a very exciting teenage outfield prospect who probably just needs some swing adjustments to be a corner platoon option. He has some big right-tail outcomes.

45 FV Prospects

8. Shane Drohan, SP

Drafted: 5th Round, 2020 from Florida State (BOS)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 40/45 45/45 60/60 50/55 90-92 / 95

Drohan has made a number of incremental changes since he was drafted out of Florida State, and piece by piece, he’s become a totally different pitcher. Recall that he was drafted as a relatively soft-tossing lefty with a good, slow curveball and really loose, whippy arm action. He has since shortened his arm stroke, moved to the extreme third base side of the rubber, a changeup has moved to the forefront of his repertoire, and he’s recently de-emphasized his slow, deep curveball in favor of a slider resting comfortably in the upper 80s. He still isn’t throwing his fastball all that hard, although the 91.5 mph Drohan’s heater is averaging early on in 2023 constitutes a one-tick bump from 2022. More recently, he’s been 92-94 early in starts, with riding life that makes lefty hitters extremely uncomfortable when Drohan is locating around their hands. He doesn’t have great feel for the new slider yet, but Drohan lives off his fastball and changeup most of the time. His change has big arm-side action and fade. It’s a comfortably plus pitch but he only tends to use it against righties, which puts pressure on Drohan to dial in his slider. Athletic lefties with changeups this good tend to find their way into a big league rotation as no. 4/5 starters, even when they only have a fair breaking ball. If you think Drohan’s athleticism will help his new breaking stuff flourish over time, or that his recent arm strength uptick is the start of an upward trend that will continue for a while longer, then you can argue he’s a top 100 prospect.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 18.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 157 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 30/45 20/45 55/55 45/55 55

Alcantara is a potential everyday shortstop with very advanced feel to hit and a projectable frame. He hit .302/.406/.397 in the 2022 DSL and his power looked like it had taken a leap throughout 2023 extended spring training. Alcantara tracks pitches with laser-guided precision and moves his barrel all over the zone. It’s especially beautiful when he tucks his hands in and puts the barrel on inner-third pitches, à la Justin Turner. He has the power to spray doubles into the gaps right now and should add strength as his frame fills out. We’re not talking about a Tatis or Seager type frame, but there is room for more mass without crushing Alcantara’s defense. I saw him do a little bit of everything this spring: backhand one in the hole and hose a guy, show a quick exchange on a chopper in on the grass, flip the hips and throw after running down an up-the-middle grounder. This guy doesn’t have huge bat speed, and his route to being a 50 or better is probably going to have to come from having a special hit tool rather than growing into big power. He’s similar to Ezequiel Tovar at the same stage and projects as a contact/defense everyday shortstop, but not for a while.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 55/60 25/50 93-96 / 98

A high-profile 2021 Complex League arm, Gonzalez is much more talented and famous than he is polished. Boston’s decision to omit him from the club’s 40-man after last season was justified as soon as he was passed over in the Rule 5 Draft, and looks even more so now that he’s really struggling to throw strikes with High-A Greenville in 2023.

But Gonzalez is still really talented, and he’s only 21. His fastball control is poor, with lots of high, arm-side misses that are nearer to the hamates of right-handed hitters than the zone, but he’s throwing 93-96 mph with exploding life. Fastball command was clearly a point of developmental emphasis last year, as Gonzalez threw his fastball 70% of the time, down to 60% so far in 2023. His upper-70s, two-plane curveball is easily plus, with huge break that pairs nicely with the action on his fastball. He may ultimately be best-suited to lead with his breaking ball for strike one a lot of the time, then blow up hitters around their hands as they try to stay on this sort of breaker. His changeup is behind and often cuts, but Gonzalez’s best ones are of the upper-80s power action variety.

Line this sort of stuff up with the best college arms in the country and it compares pretty favorably. You’re not taking a project like Gonzalez ahead of the more polished college arms who tend to go in the middle of the first round or above, but guys with relief risk and stuff like this tend to find their way into the late-first and comp round. Patience here. This is a powerful down-the-mound athlete generating huge hip/shoulder separation who can also really spin it. He’s got considerable upside, even if he ends up in the bullpen.

11. Angel Bastardo, SP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/50 50/55 45/60 30/45 93-97 / 98

Bastardo was projected as a good young relief prospect on last cycle’s Red Sox list. There’s still risk that he ends up in the ‘pen because of his size and fastball command, but there really aren’t any other pitchers in this system who can match his combination of stuff and performance. Bastardo is pitching well as a starter at Greenville so far in 2023, mixing three above-average secondary pitches with an average fastball. He has an athletic, semi-cross-bodied delivery evocative of Twins righty Sonny Gray, which is encouraging because Gray has had a great career as a shorter starter (in stature, not innings) and that’s what Bastardo endeavors to do.

Bastardo tends to sit 93-95 mph with relatively vanilla movement, and instead carves with his bevy of above-average secondary offerings, especially his changeup. He can run it back over the plate for called strikes and bury it to finish hitters off, and this includes righties. While pitch data sourced from 2022 shows Bastardo with one breaking ball, it really looks like he has two now. They blend together in the low-80s but have different shape: his glove-side sliders feature more two-plane movement, while his curveball has distinct north/south finish that plays much better than the slider against lefties. While imprecise, Bastardo lives around the zone enough with all four pitches to continue to project as a starter, though not as a virtual lock or anything like that. He’s out-pitching Wikelman Gonzalez at the same age, at the same level, and with more polished and complete secondary stuff, but lesser arm strength and raw breaking ball quality. I have Gonzalez ahead because he’s more traditionally projectable, but you can take your pick between the two.

12. Mikey Romero, 2B

Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Orange Lutheran HS (CA) (BOS)
Age 19.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 40/50 20/45 50/45 30/40 50

While not a lock to stay at shortstop due to middling range and actions, Romero had among the more advanced hit tools in the 2022 high school class, able to impact pitches all over the strike zone. He ranked 37th on the 2022 draft board and was selected 24th, where he received a $2.3 million bonus to forego a commitment to LSU. Lower back stiffness has sidelined him for all of 2023 as of list publication, though Romero is expected to start playing rehab games on the complex shortly. He projects as a strong-side platoon infielder who’s capable at second and third base.

13. Enmanuel Valdez, 2B

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 24.5 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/45 55/55 50/55 30/30 30/40 40

Valdez has been among the more divisive prospects here at FanGraphs during his time on the radar, at times evaluated as a positionless prospect with a relevant hole in the top of his swing, and at others as a versatile, well-rounded lefty stick likely to play an integral part-time role. His 2022 season, during which he hit .296/.376/.542 and tallied 65 extra-base hits against upper-level pitching, solidified him as the latter, and he was part of the two-player package that came back from Houston for Christian Vázquez.

Valdez packs quite a wallop for a 5-foot-9 hitter. He swings really hard and is capable of hitting for power to all fields, turning on pitches that find the inner third of the plate and bending to spray hard contact the other way against stuff finishing away from him. His hands are a little noisy as they load, and he has a bit of a hitch before they fire, but his levers are so short that he tends to be on time anyway. His stance and aggressive, uphill swing are like a cover band’s rendition of Juan Soto‘s cut. Vulnerable to fastballs running up and away from him (even ones that finish in the zone), Valdez’s hit tool will likely settle in south of average, but he’s going to get to considerable power thanks to his bat speed and damage-seeking style of swinging.

He has experience in both outfield corners and at every infield position but shortstop, seeing time most frequently second base, where he has played almost exclusively during his 2023 big league debut. Like a dull Swiss Army knife, he isn’t especially good at any of them. He’ll make some sweet plays out of sheer effort but struggles at other times due to below-average range, hands, and actions, frequently costing the team an out on double play attempts due to a slow pivot (his feeds to the bag tend to be good, though). The death of the shift will further stretch him on defense, and he might end up playing more 1B/LF than anywhere else over time, but there’s enough platoon-friendly offense happening here to consider Valdez a core part-time player.

40+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 20.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 45/55 30/50 40/40 30/40 50

So far Paulino’s 2023 hasn’t lived up to his career standard with the bat, but he looks fine and I’m not inclined to alter his FV grade. This guy can hit. His sweet lefty swing has natural loft without compromising contact, and Paulino is pretty explosive and strong for his size. The hit/power combination here is going to play, defense be damned. What Paulino is going to be capable of with his glove is coming into focus, and it’s likely going to be below-average defense at second and third base; the Red Sox tried him in center field for about a dozen games in 2022, but haven’t tried the outfield yet this season. Everything he does is just a little slow and less crisp than a good infielder, but not so bad that Paulino can’t actually play second and third. He may be having some breaking ball recognition issues exposed so far in 2023, but his overall chase has been average. Even though his swing looks a little long, Paulino’s lever length makes it work. He hits some oppo fly balls that threaten the wall already at age 20-21 (his birthday is July 2) and those may turn into bombs as he continues to get stronger, resulting in a balanced offensive package that plays a ton (like 350-400 PAs) as the strong side of an infield platoon.

15. Chase Meidroth, 3B

Drafted: 4th Round, 2022 from San Diego (BOS)
Age 21.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 35/40 30/40 45/45 35/40 40

Little Meidroth was absurdly difficult to strike out in college and had more walks than strikeouts throughout his career, slashing .319/.430/.519 at San Diego. His diminutive frame and lack of a clear position pushed him to the 2022 draft’s fourth round. Meidroth struggled with throwing accuracy issues from second base, and he projected to the outfield here at FanGraphs at the time of the draft. The Red Sox have instead moved him to third base (he’s still playing some second), and while his arm strength and accuracy are still occasional issues, he looks much more comfortable over there than he did at second base in college. Predictably, Meidroth quickly hit his way out of A-ball and was promoted to Double-A in May; he’s continued to make a ton of contact.

Like Roman Anthony, Meidroth is a passive hitter, swinging roughly 30% of the time. He’s stronger and more physical than a Michael Stefanic type, but isn’t such a power threat that upper-level pitchers are going to nibble against him; they’re going to attack Meidroth with impunity because his power is lacking, and his OBP will likely dip as a result. He excels at getting on top of high fastballs and sprays a lot of quality airborne contact the opposite way. This is really going to play in the current metagame in which lots of pitchers are working that part of the zone with their fastballs. Because we’re talking primarily about a corner defender without much power, Meidroth is probably more of a 250 PA (or so) complementary player than a true regular. He’d be like a righty Adam Frazier if he develops into a viable second baseman, but he’s more likely an Owen Miller type whose defensive versatility comes at third base and below on the spectrum.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2021 from Leadership Christian Academy (BOS)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/55 40/50 30/50 20/45 89-92 / 94

Rodriguez-Cruz is a very projectable sinker-oriented righty who was still shy of 18 when Boston picked him in the fourth round of the 2021 draft out of Leadership Christian Academy, the Puerto Rican high school that also boasts Heliot Ramos and Jose Miranda as alums.

ERC’s amateur prospectdom was about dreaming on his frame and natural breaking ball shape, while hoping his delivery would become more consistent. That’s begun to happen. After throwing about 38 innings in affiliated ball last year, ERC was assigned to Salem when camp broke in 2023 and he’s steadily eating five-plus innings per start, no easy feat for a teenager. Rodriguez-Cruz repeats his mechanics with impressive consistency for a young pitcher his size and is one of the higher probability starter prospects in this system even though he’s so young. He has a loose, whippy, easy delivery, and it’s possible Elmer will throw harder than his current low 90s as he gets stronger. Countering that will be many more innings than he’s had to throw in a single season. Look for a more distinct second breaking ball to emerge here, parlaying Rodriguez-Cruz’s feel for spin into another good pitch. There’s also plenty of long-term changeup projection because of how loose ERC’s arm action is, and the way a changeup’s shape will play with his sinker. So much of this exists as projection, but the ingredients for a mid-rotation starter are here. More velo will be important since we’re talking about a sinker guy.

17. Bradley Blalock, SP

Drafted: 37th Round, 2019 from Grayson HS (GA) (BOS)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/50 55/60 30/40 30/45 93-95 / 97

Blalock was selected as a safety pick in the 32nd round of the 2019 draft under the assumption that he was heading to school, but at the end of the day, Boston had enough bonus pool money left to sign him for $250,000. He had an inconsistent full-season debut in 2021 but also showed significant growth in terms of velocity, sitting 93-95 mph while touching 97, with the velo complemented by excellent shape, including big hopping action. He entered 2022 as a potential breakout guy, but Blalock had Tommy John in March and never threw a pitch. Recently back from his rehab, Blalock’s made just a few A-ball starts before list publication and things look to be intact, so that breakout may upon us.

Blalock is again sitting 93-95 and has been up to 97. It’s easily a plus-or-better pitch, and Blalock’s secondaries (which weren’t great in 2021) have leveled up in quality. This either happened between the end of 2021 and when he had TJ, or during his rehab. His 77-82 mph curveball has huge depth, and Blalock now also has a harder gyro slider. His slider feel isn’t dialed in yet. It’s usually tough for hurlers with extreme vertical slots like Blalock’s to have changeup feel, and he might be able to develop a screwball-style pitch, but because of his ability to spin the baseball, it’s more likely Blalock continues to refine his slider until that’s his third weapon.

The 2023 season is Blalock’s 40-man evaluation year and I think this is a guy potentially vulnerable to the Rule 5 if the Red Sox leave him unprotected. Yes, he’s currently at Low-A Salem, but Blalock will be 23 next year, he clearly crushed his rehab program, and he has two pitches that could get big league outs right now in his fastball and curveball. Especially as he’s still building innings coming off the TJ, he could absolutely be popped as a reliever. It might be better for the Red Sox to push Blalock and give him a real shot to earn a 40-man spot. He could be a Fall League candidate to push his innings total.

40 FV Prospects

18. Wilyer Abreu, RF

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (HOU)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 217 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 55/55 45/50 55/55 55/60 60

The other component of the Christian Vázquez trade, Abreu is a stocky corner outfield prospect with deceptive speed for an athlete of his build. While he’s a stretch in center field (though he has played there some), he projects as a plus defender in a corner with a plus arm. He was one homer shy of having a 20/30 season in 2022 when you combine his Houston and Boston stats, and just a hundredth of a point from a .400 OBP on the year.

While some of Abreu’s sky-high walk rate from 2022 was due to sheer passivity at the plate, the power component of his profile is real. He has above-average raw power, and his swing is geared for extreme lift, something his relatively short levers enable since his barrel needs to take a longer path to get on such an uphill plane. This style of hitting does leave Abreu vulnerable to high fastballs, which he often swings underneath. The flimsiness of the hit tool is what separates him from a plug-and-play corner platoon bat like Seth Smith or Matt Joyce, the 45 FV prototypes of that role. His tools are still solid enough for him to impact the game in a low-end version of that role, and if it turns out his plate discipline is actually as good as it appeared to be on the surface of his 2022 and 2023 stats, then he belongs a tier above this. It’s fair to say he has above-average plate discipline but not elite, 20%-ish walk rate command of the zone.

19. Chris Murphy, MIRP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from San Diego (BOS)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 45/45 45/50 55/60 45/45 90-94 / 96

Murphy has had a two-tick velocity bump over the span of a couple of weeks. His fastball averaged 92 mph at Triple-A through mid-May and Murphy was getting shelled. It steadily climbed over the course of his next few starts and he’s suddenly sitting 94-95. All of his other offerings also saw a bump. This has been meaningful for the way his slider (which is now basically a cutter) is playing — it’s just nastier at about 88 mph. Murphy has a starter’s mix, but I’m not sure a guy this size can let it rip like this for more than three or four innings at a time. That’s fine — Murphy can still be an effective member of a staff in some kind of hybrid swingman role where he’s mixing in all his pitches in an unpredictable, if somewhat inefficient, way.

20. Brandon Walter, MIRP

Drafted: 26th Round, 2019 from Delaware (BOS)
Age 26.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/60 55/60 60/70 87-91 / 94

Had Walter been healthy for all of 2022, he probably would have been on the Top 100 list entering the year as a plug-and-play mid-rotation starter. He was utterly dominant for the first month of the season before he had some nuclear meltdown outings and was shut down for the back half of the summer with a bulging disc in his back. His velocity is now three ticks below where it was during his 2021-22 peak, but Walter still commands three pitches well enough to be considered an important member of a pitching staff, either as a no. 4/5 starter or as a unique long reliever.

Walter’s cross-bodied, low-slot delivery is a non-traditional look for a starter, but in the low-to-mid minors, his command and repertoire depth gave him a starter’s toolkit. Now that he’s facing upper level hitters, his walk rates have trended up as his velocity has trended down, suggesting he’s nibbling to get by with a heater in the 87-91 mph range. The sink and tail created by his low, slingin’ arm slot keep his fastball off barrels, and the shallow angle his delivery naturally creates gives him the option to run his fastball up the ladder for some whiffs, but he’s better equipped to do that if his best velocity comes back. Because his low slot gives righties a long look at his fastball, Walter throws a lot of changeups to them. That pitch played like a premium weapon in 2022 (it garnered a 50% chase rate!), and his feel for locating it to his arm side was robotically consistent, which hasn’t quite been true in 2023. His sweeping low-80s slider also played like a plus pitch (59% whiff rate) and, as you can probably imagine since we’re talking about a low-slot guy, is especially tough on lefties. Because Walter has all his options remaining, it’s unlikely that he’ll move to the bullpen in the near future. He’ll likely move back and forth between roles like Tanner Houck (another non-traditional look for a starter), but on a postseason roster, this guy would be deployed as a multi-inning bridge.

21. David Hamilton, SS

Drafted: 8th Round, 2019 from Texas (MIL)
Age 25.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 40/40 30/30 70/70 50/50 50

A torn Achilles tendon in 2019 cost Hamilton his junior year at Texas; the injury also dropped him to the later part of his draft’s second day, where the Brewers selected him in the eighth round. He finally got his first taste of pro baseball in 2021, and a season defined by gaudy stolen base totals ended with him being traded to Boston in the Hunter Renfroe deal. In 2022, Hamilton’s first season in the Red Sox org, he slashed .251/.338/.402 at Double-A Portland (generating a pretty medium 104 wRC+) and stole 70 bases (!) in 78 attempts.

Hamilton is a 70-grade runner who regularly gets down the line in the 4.00–4.10 second range. Minor league camera operators have trouble keeping him in frame, and his speed forces opposing infielders to rush their throws, often impacting their accuracy. This speed, combined with Hamilton’s suitable shortstop defense, makes him very likely to play a part-time big league role. He has made plus rates of contact in the minors but has done so as an old-for-the-level player, so it feels prudent to round down on that tool at least a little bit. Vulnerable on the outer edge, Hamilton is best at turning on inside pitches, which is really the only part of the zone in which he’s able to hit for power. More “fine” than excellent at short, he doesn’t have the skill set of a premium utilityman and is more of a niche player who can impact the game with his speed. If he continues to get reps in center field (he played two games there in 2022 and just one and a half more so far in 2023), then that premium utility role is in play.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 17.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 35/40 20/40 50/50 40/50 45

Stocky and strong, Cespedes is FanGraphs’ favorite flavor of prospect: a compact middle infielder with a water-carrying hit tool. His size limits his power projection and he may end up a Yonny Hernández-type of utilityman, especially if he can’t stick at shortstop. But Cespedes’ bat is advanced, and there’s a chance he ends up with a special hit tool that drives an everyday role at second. He was ranked 18th among the 2023 international amateurs and signed for $1.4 million. His pro career is just underway in the DSL.

23. Brainer Bonaci, 2B

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 20.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 45/45 30/40 40/30 50/60 70

Bonaci has impressed scouts with his bat since his amateur days in Venezuela. He has feel for contact, an advanced approach for his age, and the ability to drive balls into both gaps. Currently more of a doubles machine, Bonaci should get to 40-45 grade power as he ages into his 20s and projects as a total offensive package defined more by his lack of weaknesses than any particular strengths. He has outstanding defensive skills and a plus arm, but his frame has filled out since signing, leaving him a 40-grade runner who gets by at shortstop more on instincts and fundamentals than twitch. He has primarily played second base (where he’s plus) during each of the last two seasons with some shortstop and third base mixed in, and he’s dealt with rashes of inaccuracy throwing from the hot corner. A scrappy, grinder type of infielder who plays with big effort, Bonaci fits snugly in a utility infield role. His switch-hitting and defensive versatility will enable lots of favorable in-game matchups, or at least allow his manager to avoid unfavorable ones, since Bonaci can act as a platoon-neutral mid-game bat and then go to whatever position. He’s a pretty good offseason 40-man candidate.

24. Luis Perales, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 168 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/70 45/55 30/40 30/40 94-96 / 98

An athletic little righty with a lightning-fast arm, Perales is currently blowing mid-90s heat with nearly elite riding life past Low-A hitters. He added meaningful strength in the several months after first signing with Boston and started throwing very hard for a 17-year-old, peaking at 95 mph. Now his fastball averages 95 and has been up to 98.

This is a relief look both in terms of Perales’ walks and his look. He’s small, throws with huge effort, and has a career BB/9 approaching 6.00. Perales will occasionally show you a good breaking ball (some with slider shape and some more like curveballs) and changeup, but he throws so many non-competitive pitches nowhere near the zone that it’s tough to call either of them average right now. There’s not really any physical projection but Perales could probably throw harder in a relief role, which is projected here. He’s first Rule 5 eligible this offseason and you’d have to think the Red Sox will play this the same way they did last season with Wikelman, leaving Perales in Low-A all year to try to get his walks under control. Perales’ fastball shape gives him more in-zone location margin for error, so he’s maybe a little bit better a bet to get popped in the Rule 5, but it’s still unlikely. There’s late-inning relief potential here because of the monster fastball, but a secondary pitch needs to come to the fore and it’s logical to let Perales work as a starter to increase his reps with those pitches.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/50 50/55 40/50 30/50 91-94 / 95

Monegro was the best Red Sox pitching prospect I saw during extended spring training looks in Florida. He’s a little older than the typical arm from the complex group, but he’s still projectable at a high-waited 6-foot-4. He sat 91-94 mph and was up to 95, with vertical ride and command that will surely allow him to have success at the lowest pro levels. He has a clean, direct line to the plate and lovely hip/shoulder separation that, along with his frame, portends more velocity. An upper-70s curveball with solid average depth and a power-action changeup that he throws as hard as 91 mph round out the repertoire. It’s a starter’s mix with a starter’s frame, delivery, and strike-throwing. His ceiling will be dictated by how much velo he and the Red Sox can develop, and he’s far enough away from the bigs that it has to alter how he’s valued here, but Monegro has fourth starter upside.

26. Ryan Fernandez, SIRP

Drafted: 23th Round, 2018 from Hillsborough CC (FL) (BOS)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
50/50 70/70 55/60 94-96 / 98

Fernandez sits in the mid-90s and throws a ton of strikes with a heater that plays down due to its lack of life. His slider, however, is incredible. At times, it has a cut/rise look in on the hands of lefties; at others, it plays like a typical chase pitch against righties. Fernandez’s feel for location of his slider is deadly, and it will bend in anywhere between 87-91 mph. He’ll show you an occasional changeup, but that pitch is considerably behind the rest of the repertoire. Fernandez has often been working multiple innings in the minors, but he looks like a pretty standard single-inning reliever with a mid-90s fastball and a great slider. His strike throwing is a big part of why he’s 40’d here rather than evaluated as an up/down guy.

27. Bryan Mata, MIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 238 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 50/50 50/50 30/30 96-98 / 100

The pandemic and an early 2021 Tommy John surgery cost Mata two consecutive seasons. When he returned in 2022, he had transformed both his body (which is now quite lean) and his repertoire (which is now five pitches thick). He now makes even use of his four- and two-seam fastballs, which average 97 mph, up three ticks from the last time he pitched for a whole season. He has an upper-80s slider (his most frequently used pitch if you consider each of his fastballs to be their own offering), a low-80s curveball and a 88–91-mph changeup, all of which flash above average. But while it looked like Mata had turned a corner from a strike-throwing standpoint in 2019, he was back to his profoundly walk-prone ways in 2022 and 2023. Entering the year you hoped that more and more distance from his TJ would mean Mata could polish his control enough to profile as a starter, but things have remained so bad that it’s tough to consider him an impact reliever even though his stuff looks so good. This guy’s running dry of options and needs to be put in the ‘pen. He went on the IL in mid-May with a lat injury, which all but seals the deal in that regard.

28. Luis Guerrero, SIRP

Drafted: 17th Round, 2021 from Chipola JC (FL) (BOS)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 55/60 30/40 95-97 / 100

Guerrero is an arm strength maven whose stuff overpowered hitters in the lower minors; he struck out 35% of A-ball opponents in 2022. He’s come crashing down to Earth at Double-A in 2023, with both his strikeout and walk rates regressing dramatically. Guerrero’s stuff is fine, though. He sits 95-97 mph and will touch 100, scattering his location like dandelion seeds in a 100-mph wind. The shape and inaccuracy of Guerrero’s fastball causes it to play down, and Double-A hitters are taking advantage. He has a wild, high-octane delivery with a long arm swing, and sometimes Guerrero melts down and can’t find the zone at all. His upper-80s slider has good length for a pitch that hard, and is a potential plus offering. He’s throwing many more sliders than splitters so far in 2023, but that’s probably in an effort to use the slider to garner first pitch strikes. Guerrero’s split (maybe it’s a fosh-style change or a forkball) is actually his nastiest pitch when he releases it right, plummeting down and to his arm side. It’s a huge weapon against hitters of both handedness.

He’s struggling right now, but this a really talented 22-year-old with three potential plus pitches. Built like Yankees reliever Jimmy Cordero, he checks a lot of visual scouting boxes for his physicality and explosiveness. He’s in Félix Bautista territory — where Guerrero’s control is unplayably wild right now, but he could be a monster if things click — and he has some of the athletic traits you look for in long-term breakouts, more so than little Luis Perales.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from DeSoto Central HS (MS) (BOS)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 55/60 35/55 30/30 30/55 40

Jordan was a famous high school underclassman whose mature build led to precocious power. He reclassified from the 2021 class and became a very young-for-the-draft high school prospect in 2020. While wielding a potent hit/power combo on the high school circuit, Jordan’s softer build and below-average athleticism drove risk he’d move to first base. It’s very tough to profile as a righty-hitting first baseman, but the Red Sox felt it was worth a $1.75 million gamble in the third round. And Jordan has mostly tracked as expected, though he’s built a surprisingly chase-prone statistical track record that he has hit in spite of. After a swoon during his late-season promotion to Greenville in 2022, Jordan is raking there to start 2023. Now that Chase Meidroth has been promoted, Jordan has again been playing a heavy mix of third and first base, but as prophesied, he’s a better fit at first, where his above-average hands get to play but his inaccurate arm doesn’t have to. Beware of bottom-of-the-spectrum defenders with walk rates this low. Jordan’s hitting hands are explosive and he has feel for in-zone contact, projecting for an average contact and power mix. Those two things are likely to make Jordan a big leaguer. Because his plate discipline dilutes his production in a meaningful way, it will likely be toward the bottom third of that major league position group.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 173 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/50 45/55 40/50 30/45 89-93 / 94

Encarnacion is not having surface-level success with Greenville as of list publication, but his feel for location looks much better than his 2023 walk rates would lead you to believe and he brings too many ingredients to the table to dismiss because of a bloated ERA. Encarnacion is still lanky as can be and has a weird low-slot delivery that creates upshot angle on his fastball, which has added two ticks in 2023 and is now parked at 92 mph. His command is ultra-fine, but he knows how to live in the upper half of the strike zone. Even at age 22, Encarnacion is still very, very projectable, and over time, he should develop a monster heater that he rips right past opposing hitters. Pair that with a wiping two-plane slider that Encarnacion also has pretty decent feel for locating, and he’s very likely to at least be a nasty righty reliever. Encarnacion’s arm slot makes it tough for him to finish his changeup, which often just tails toward random locations with zero precision. His changeup feel is so raw that it’s tough to project that pitch into a place that would allow JDE to start. His lower half could stand to be stronger and more balanced, which might help his command flourish. Long-term, he projects as a Miguel Castro clone.

31. Chih-Jung Liu, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Taiwan (BOS)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
40/60 50/60 45/55 30/40 94-96 / 98

Liu’s fastball velocity seems to have stabilized after fluctuating at times during the last few years. He’s routinely in the 94-96 mph range again, and while that pitch lacks life, Liu’s slider and (especially) his changeup are both capable of missing bats, and he’s having a fine 2023 season with Portland. A two-way amateur player who didn’t focus on pitching until 2019, Liu’s split-action changeup has huge sink and arm-side movement. It’s easily his best pitch and he uses it to finish hitters of both handedness. His slider has variable shape, but Liu at least has feel for locating it consistently. His arm action is now super short, but Liu still doesn’t have great fastball command, and it’s still crude enough at age 24 (and in Liu’s 40-man eval year) to more resolutely project him as a reliever. If he throws harder out of the ‘pen, maybe we’re looking at more than a middle reliever. If he keeps hovering in the 94-96 mph range, then we’re probably not since we’re talking about a guy with a round-down fastball.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Colombia (TBR)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 60/60 40/45 30/30 40/40 60

Hernández was acquired as part of the trade that sent Jeffrey Springs to Tampa Bay not long before the 2021 season. Since then, he’s spun his wheels in the upper levels of the minors, struggling with the same issues that made him a maddening Rays prospect — namely, his propensity to chase. At Triple-A Worcester in 2022, he offered at a reckless 58% of pitches and posted a 41% chase rate (the big league average is about 33%). There’s still plus pull power here, it’s just tough for Hernández to get to it in games because of how often he gets himself out. A fair receiver and ball-blocker with a plus arm, in many ways he is a less toolsy version of Jorge Alfaro. Still hellbent on taking the long view with power-hitting backstops due to industry-wide scarcity at this position, here Hernández continues to project as a bat-first backup catcher, but it’s probably time to stop waiting around for him to become disciplined enough to profile in an everyday capacity.

35+ FV Prospects

33. Cutter Coffey, SS

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Liberty HS (CA) (BOS)
Age 19.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 35/45 20/40 55/55 30/45 60

An athletic two-way high schooler, most teams prefered Coffey as a well-rounded third base prospect, while a minority (including yours truly) prefered him on the mound. I still do. Coffey is a mixed bag on defense. His footwork and raw arm strength (duh) are fantastic, but Coffey’s hands and actions are below average. He especially struggles with hotshot grounders, which are pretty common at third base. As a third baseman, you have to hit and hit for power. Coffey’s hitting hands are quick and powerful for a hitter his size, but his barrel feel is imprecise. He puts a lot of balls in play because of how short and quick his swing is, but he isn’t squaring it up. It feels like it will be comfortably short of a corner profile on offense. I loved Coffey’s secondary stuff and delivery as an amateur, and thought he was athletic enough to open up his stride and improve the shape of his fastball without hurting his command. With a focus on pitching alone, who knows what might have happened (or still could) here.

34. Stephen Scott, C

Drafted: 10th Round, 2019 from Vanderbilt (BOS)
Age 26.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 207 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 45/45 30/35 30/30 40/45 45

Scott barely caught at Vanderbilt, and as a draft prospect, he was considered either a light-hitting 1B/LF or a developmental project as a catcher. The Red Sox have taken the second line of play, and it just might work. Scott and his excellent plate discipline have now performed above the league average up through Double-A, and he has made real strides on defense, such that he is now a fair receiver with a nearly average arm. Scott’s ball-blocking could still use some work, but he’s not far off from being a passable all-around catcher. His offensive skills are led by his plate discipline, which is among the best in the minors. He’s best at attacking pitches he can damage, but has struggled with big velocity, albeit in a small sample. He was promoted to Triple-A just before list publication and is tracking like the third catcher on a 40-man roster.

35. Jedixson Paez, SP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 19.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
30/35 50/55 55/60 25/60 87-91 / 93

Paez is Vance Worley with a shorter arm action, an athletic little righty with a sinking/tailing fastball that runs off the hip of lefty batters and back into the zone. He doesn’t throw very hard, he isn’t especially projectable, and he’s already liberally mixing in his secondaries just to get by in the lower levels of the minors, but Paez has remarkable command for a 19-year-old and his fastball/changeup duo diverge from his slider in a way that keeps the baseball off the barrel. For a teenage pitcher, he feels like a very low-variance prospect who should at least become a good no. 6-8 starter with a backend ceiling. Paez’s size doesn’t really allow for much velo projection, and his weird (but repeatable and super cool), open-striding, low-slot delivery makes it tough for his fastball to punch above its weight.

36. Luis Cohen, SP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 20.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 172 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/50 55/60 40/50 30/50 91-94 / 95

Cohen is an athletic, undersized righty with a precocious breaking ball and several starter traits (except for his size). He’s been sitting 91-94 mph (mostly 93 in my look) throughout relatively short extended spring/complex outings, but he shows the same premium hip/shoulder separation (an indication of power and athleticism, in my opinion) that runs through this system, and therefore has a chance to throw harder at physical maturity even though he’s on the smaller side. The money pitch here is Cohen’s sweeping breaker, which has big action and length in the 78-84 mph range. His 81-83 mph changeup sometimes cuts on him but at other times is average. Like a lot of the other pitchers in this system, there are probably going to be a couple viable secondary offerings in place here, and how Cohen’s fastball velocity and command (the latter is key if little-to-no more velo comes) develop will dictate his ultimate ceiling. It’s more of a backend look due to the lack of projectability.

37. Enderso Lira, C

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/35 40/50 20/45 30/20 40/50 50

Lira was one of Boston’s top international signees in January 2021, earning a bonus of $850,000. His debut at the club’s Dominican complex didn’t produce eye-popping numbers, but it certainly grabbed the attention of scouts, and he remains more of a long-term bet than a present performer. Lira has a well built, athletic frame with plenty of projection. His best swings are gorgeous rips, very impressive for a teenage catcher, but Lira has a tendency to step in the bucket, and he doesn’t readily track pitches with his eyes. His hands work in an uphill path that should allow whatever power he grows into to play, and based on how he’s built and projects to mature, that might be a lot of power. Lira’s not a good defender yet, but he’s decent at almost everything. His arm and receiving are fine, while his ball-blocking technique needs a lot of work. He stayed back on the complex for extended spring training before he was sent to Salem in early May, where he’s playing part-time right now. He remains a long-term dev project with sizeable variance.

38. Corey Rosier, LF

Drafted: 12th Round, 2021 from UNC Greensboro (SEA)
Age 23.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 184 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 40/40 30/30 80/80 30/30 30

Rosier began his college career at Chipola Junior College in Florida and ended it with one season at UNC Greensboro, where he hit .354/.434/.604 with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. The Mariners drafted him in the 12th round in 2021 and quickly traded him to the Padres as part of the Adam Frazier deal; the Padres later packaged him with Eric Hosmer in the Jay Groome trade that also cleared roster space for Juan Soto. Rosier has several catalytic qualities: he’s an 80 runner with a good idea of the strike zone and he’s difficult to make miss within it. Though he’ll occasionally ambush a middle-in pitch, Rosier mostly rips grounders to the right side and then hauls ass to first base. Despite his speed, he’s a poor outfield defender who makes a lot of routine plays look difficult and adventurous. I love the edge Rosier plays with, and think his speed and contact ability will make him rosterable, but he basically has no position, which is going to severely limit his role.

39. Allan Castro, CF

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 40/45 30/40 50/50 30/40 50

Castro is a switch-hitting 20-year-old who hit well in the 2021 DSL and on the complex in 2022. He broke camp in 2023 with Salem before he officially turned 20 and his overall numbers are down, but he’s still performing above the Carolina League average and looks hitterish in the box. Castro has advanced bat-to-ball skills from both sides of the plate, and his lefty swing has lovely uppercut, generating more in-game pop than his righty cut. As a medium-framed hitter with average bat speed, there isn’t huge power projection here, and Castro may only ever have doubles pop and peak in the 12-to-15 home run range. He’s on the fringe of projecting in center field, and players who aren’t locks to stay there tend not to. The limited power projection on a likely corner guy makes for a tough profile, but Castro has a young Robbie Grossman’s skill set and is a solid role-player prospect at the bottom of the full-season ladder.

40. Noah Dean, SIRP

Drafted: 5th Round, 2022 from Old Dominion (BOS)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/60 40/55 30/40 93-96 / 99

Dean is a long-levered lefty with a mid-90s fastball that peaked in the 98-100 mph area during his time at Old Dominion. He would typically sit 93-96 with big carry out of the bullpen in college, but the Red Sox are trying him as a starter. Dean’s arm action is extremely long, and it would seem to be low-hanging developmental fruit to shorten him up and hope it makes his fastball command and breaking ball more consistent. He’s a nice arm strength developmental project whose most likely outcome is in middle relief.

41. Christopher Troye, SIRP

Drafted: 12th Round, 2021 from UC Santa Barbara (BOS)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Cutter Command Sits/Tops
65/65 50/50 40/50 20/30 93-96 / 98

Troye was part of the talented UC Santa Barbara pitching staff that included Mike McGreevy and Rodney Boone, with Troye and Boone of particular interest because they each had hoppy fastballs that would dominate college hitters despite below-average velocity. While it’s come at the cost of other things (his control), Troye is throwing harder as a pro, living in the mid-90s and even peaking in the upper-90s at times, a far cry from his 90-92 mph look near the end of college. The added velo, combined with his fastball’s movement, has made that a dominant pitch. Troye has also added a second, harder breaking ball since college, but his feel for locating all of his offerings comes and goes in the extreme. He’s a 40 athlete and has bulked up since college, though that might be where some of the new velo has come from. His raw breaking ball quality is good enough for Troye to be a core middle reliever, but his utility is not. Troye doesn’t really bury his breakers to finish hitters, they live in the zone as a way to freeze hitters looking for his fastball. Without a chase-inducing breaker, Troye essentially has a pitch and a half, and projects more as a wild up/down guy.

42. Alex Hoppe, SIRP

Drafted: 6th Round, 2022 from UNC Greensboro (BOS)
Age 24.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 30/40 92-95 / 97

Hoppe was a fifth-year senior from UNC Greensboro whose fastball really popped when he moved to the bullpen in college, up to 97 mph at 2022 Regionals. He did not pitch after the 2022 draft and made his pro debut in 2023. Hoppe’s fastball continues to dominate, but he has yet to find a consistent second offering and his command isn’t where you’d hope an experienced college pitcher’s would be. Hoppe’s slider has bat-missing movement but his execution needs to be more consistent. His lanky frame and gigantic stride down the mound, as well as his fastball’s riding life and raw velocity, are all big league reliever traits. Remember that Hoppe came into this velocity late, he’s coming from a smaller program, and he’s only just getting his feet wet in pro ball after he was shut down post-draft. For now, he fits with this big group of impact fastball up/down relievers as he and the Sox try to tighten up his slider command.

43. Joey Stock, SIRP

Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (BOS)
Age 25.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
55/60 40/45 50/55 30/35 92-94 / 96

Yes, Stock is 25 and only in High-A, but present stuff and roster flexibility rule the day for pitching prospects, and the 2020 undrafted free agent from Division-III St. John’s still has through 2024 to continue to develop and bring his vertical fastball/curveball combo to the upper-levels and majors. Stock has a prototypical pitcher’s build at a broad-shouldered 6-foot-5, and his overhand delivery imparts big riding life on a 92-94 fastball that will touch 96. He had a pretty standard fastball/curveball combo in 2022 and has added a more curt, lateral slider in 2023. The pitch isn’t great yet, but there’s late projection across the board here because of Stock’s small school, cold-weather background. He’s blowing away High-A and should get a midsummer bump to Portland to see if his ride and deception will play against more advanced hitters. Here I’m projecting Stock as an up/down relief piece. There isn’t a blow-you-away secondary yet, but the fastball is going to play.

44. Dalton Rogers, MIRP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2022 from Southern Mississippi (BOS)
Age 21.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 40/45 40/45 50/55 30/40 91-94 / 95

You see a lot of lefties with upshot fastballs in this system and Rogers, who signed for about $500,000 as Boston’s 2022 third rounder, is another recent acquisition of this type. He’s a squat southpaw with a short, vertical arm stroke, imparting round-up traits to his 90-94 mph fastball. Rogers will show you three other pitches but does most of his swing-and-miss damage with his heater. His secondaries and overall command lack consistency, and he’s been especially wild early on in 2023. The mix is indicative of a backend starter, but the command is pulling Rogers toward a long relief role.

45. Tyler McDonough, CF

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from North Carolina State (BOS)
Age 24.2 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 45/45 30/40 50/50 40/45 30

Boston’s third round pick in 2021, McDonough has struggled to find footing with the bat in pro ball, striking out at about a 30% clip in 2022 and 2023. Primarily a center fielder at NC State, McDonough has also had reps at both middle infield spots and in left field. Ceddanne Rafaela’s presence on the Portland roster has made 2023 center field reps sparse, but McDonough can play there, and he’s a 40-defender at both infield spots. As a fleet-footed center fielder who switch hits, there’s still roster utility here, similar to what Sam Haggerty provides the Mariners.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 50/60 30/50 55/50 30/55 60

Garcia is a low-probability corner outfield prospect because of his hit tool. He struck out 30% of the time in the 2022 GCL and the track record of hitters who do that is very poor. But Garcia’s power is immense for a 20-year-old. He is much bigger and stronger than his listed height and weight (on his minor league player page, not in this article), and has thunderous power to the opposite field. His swing’s finish is incredible, and it’s rare for a hitter this dense and strong to be that fluid in the hips. Promoted from the extended group to Low-A Salem in May, Garcia’s hit tool performance will cause him to sink or swim on the prospect list because he’s a corner-only defender.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Catching Depth
Johanfran Garcia, C
Ronald Rosario, C
Nathan Hickey, C

Garcia, 18, signed for $850,000 in 2022. He’s a well-rounded catching prospect with a good hit tool for a teenage catcher. He is, predictably, extremely raw. Rosario, 20, is hitting at High-A, but I don’t trust his hit tool. He has average bat speed (i.e. good for a catcher) and is a good receiver/framer with a 40 arm and ground game. Hickey, 23, is a lefty-hitting catcher who’s really hitting so far in 2023. He has a 20-grade arm and has allowed 63 steals in 66 attempts as of list publication.

Spot Starters
Brian Van Belle, RHP
Hunter Dobbins, RHP
Oddanier Mosqueda, LHP
Isaac Coffey, RHP
Victor Santos, RHP

Van Belle, 26, was a 2020 undrafted free agent who throws a ton of strikes and has a good changeup. He’s been successful up through Double-A. Dobbins in another recent Texas Tech arm (if you read all the prospects lists, you know I harp on this) who has popped after getting pro development. Dobbins didn’t pitch during his junior year in Lubbock because he had a TJ, and he fell to the eighth round the 2021 draft as a result. He has a vertical fastball/breaking ball combo (and a changeup, too) that is about as good as the relievers in the 35+ FV tier, but I’m terrified of his delivery. If he can stay healthy, he’ll have belonged on the main section of the list. Mosqueda is a cross-bodied lefty who throws strikes with 40-grade stuff. Coffey is among the org leaders in strikeouts. The 2022 10th rounder from Oral Roberts (aka Mouthbob) has a funky, drop-and-drive, low-slot delivery (but his arm action is super short, not typical of low-slot guys) that creates big lateral divergence between his fastball and slider. Santos is currently injured, but he’s thrown strikes at a 70-grade clip his whole life, and when healthy could be called upon because he has bankable command.

Young Bats
Armando Sierra, 1B/OF
Luis Ravelo, SS
Freili Encarnacion, 3B

This group’s top two guys are the hitters who really interesting. Sierra is a righty-hitting corner guy who repeated the DSL last year. It’s a tough profile, but his feel for contact and the flexibility in his lower half are both very impressive for a corner bat. Ravelo is a stocky, switch-hitting 19-year-old shortstop currently at Salem. He doesn’t have the typical build, but he’s a pretty good shortstop because of his smooth actions and plus arm. He also has low-ball power but poor plate coverage, and doubts about his bat kept him off the main section at this juncture. Encarnacion got a little over $1 million in 2022 and is already a third base-only fit who has stiffened; he now really needs to rake.

Bench Types
Niko Kavadas, DH
Max Ferguson, CF/2B
Christian Koss, SS
Eduardo Lopez, CF
Juan Chacon, CF
Gilberto Jimenez, CF
Matthew Lugo, 3B

Kavadas has huge power but lacks feel for the barrel. He could be a bench weapon similar to Darick Hall. Ferguson was a favorite of mine while he was at Tennessee, a plus-running, plus-gloved 2B/CF who needed to get stronger. He mostly hasn’t, and is swinging and missing a ton. He may still have long-term value as a 2B/CF defender. Koss is a viable shortstop with well below-average offense. He could be a Sergio Alcántara type who shuttles around when needed. Lopez has better feel to hit than Chacon, but both are tweener defenders. Jimenez was once way near the top of the list, but he’s never been able to parlay his physical gifts into a viable swing. Lugo has moved off of shortstop and has been error prone at third base while hitting .234/.259/.398 at Double-A.

Relievers
Grant Gambrell, RHP
Rio Gomez, LHP
Theo Denlinger, RHP
Taylor Broadway, RHP
Zack Kelly, RHP
Maceo Campbell, RHP

Gambrell can miss bats with his slider and changeup but does so less reliably with his fastball, which he doesn’t always command. Gomez only sits 89 mph but has a monster slider that should thwart lefties in a narrow specialist capacity. Denlinger and Broadway are typical fastball/slider guys, just without a clear plus pitch. Denlinger tends to throw harder, but Broadway’s slider is better. Kelly, an undrafted free agent who has been released multiple times, finally made it to the big leagues and then quickly got hurt. He needed ulnar nerve transposition in May. Campbell has never thrown an acceptable rate of strikes, but I love his drop-and-drive delivery and breaking ball shape. If he can find a way to throw a little harder, he’ll be fine even with 30-grade control.

System Overview

This system is extremely healthy. It has a thick layer of impact talent up top, above-average overall depth, and most impressively, it is balanced and heterogenous in the types of prospects that comprise it. There are compact hitters with profiles driven by their bat-to-ball skill, projectable young pitchers, big-bonus infielders with flashy tools, older college arms whose stuff has clearly been designed in a lab — a little bit of everything. With two DSL affiliates, both of which feature a very young contingent of up-the-middle players (most of whom are 17 as of publication), there could be another wave on the way like the fun group of position players passing through Boston’s A-levels right now. This is pretty comfortably a top 10 farm system, and the Rays, Orioles and Red Sox have separated themselves from the Yankees’ and Blue Jays’ systems in a sizable way.

Just because the system is very diverse in its player types doesn’t mean there aren’t clear trends of acquisition happening here. The shorter-levered bats that became common in the Rays system while Chaim Bloom was there are becoming commonplace on Boston’s farm, and bonus points if they switch hit. Boston’s also had success drafting hitterish SoCal amateurs, and not just slam dunks like Marcelo Mayer. From Jarren Duran to Mikey Romero, if you are raking south of Santa Barbara, the Red Sox are probably on you.

Pitching-wise, the Red Sox seem to prefer extremes. There are lots of over-the-top arm slots in this system, or at least guys who backspin their fastballs, and there are also lots of sidearmers (including many developed as starters), but there are very few pitchers with a generic three-quarters delivery in between.

It isn’t enough to be a .500 club in the AL East. Is there sufficient near-term impact in this system to allow the Red Sox to compete within this division again soon? I’m not sure there is. If Mayer becomes a franchise cornerstone, and both Yorke and Rafaela become solid everyday guys as projected, the lineup looks a more like an actual contender’s, but most of the rest of the division still has Boston licked from a pitching standpoint. Shane Drohan is the only potential impact arm with a 2024 ETA. They either need more guys to progress the way Drohan has or to spend on impact pitching.





Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

51 Comments
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tz
11 months ago

As a Red Sox fan, I’m very happy to see the farm in its current shape. My only concern is if Mayer doesn’t pan out defensively at shortstop. It looks like his bat is within a year or two of being ready, but with the likelihood that Story is at best a second baseman going forward the Sox might need to grab someone like Luis Guillorme to give them a true defensive SS over the next few years.

Still, if that’s the biggest concern in the prospect pipeline, that’s a great place to be.

sadtrombonemember
11 months ago
Reply to  tz

The big thing they have here now as compared to before is an enormous volume of players who could turn into functional middle relievers or utility guys or other semi-regulars. Most of them won’t, and you can’t make a team entirely out of them and contend (as Eric notes) but if you have a choice between having them and not having them? You know which one to pick.

dangledangle
11 months ago
Reply to  tz

Sox have had suspect SS and 3B defenders for a while it’s kind of their type. They seem to want to play players higher on the defensive spectrum than optimal. They are going to give Mayer as much time as possible because they do not have a viable alternative.

RonnieDobbs
11 months ago
Reply to  tz

The good news is that this is the era where anyone can play SS. Unless Story got old, then he is a good SS.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  RonnieDobbs

Story’s arm is shot.