Boston Red Sox Top 51 Prospects

© Ashley Green / Telegram & Gazette via Imagn Content Services, LLC

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 our own observations. This is the second 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.

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

All of the numbered prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details 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 Triston Casas 22.2 AAA 1B 2023 55
2 Marcelo Mayer 18.6 R SS 2025 55
3 Nick Yorke 19.9 A+ 2B 2025 55
4 Wilkelman Gonzalez 19.3 A SP 2024 45+
5 Gilberto Jimenez 21.7 A CF 2023 45+
6 Miguel Bleis 18.0 R RF 2025 45
7 Connor Seabold 26.1 MLB SP 2022 45
8 Brayan Bello 22.8 AA SIRP 2022 45
9 Ronaldo Hernández 24.3 AAA C 2022 45
10 Brandon Walter 25.5 A+ SP 2023 45
11 Jeter Downs 23.6 AAA 2B 2022 40+
12 Bryan Mata 22.9 AA MIRP 2022 40+
13 Jay Groome 23.6 AA SP 2022 40+
14 Tyler McDonough 22.3 A CF 2025 40+
15 David Hamilton 24.5 AA SS 2023 40+
16 Blaze Jordan 19.2 A 1B 2025 40+
17 Alex Binelas 21.1 A 3B 2025 40+
18 Thaddeus Ward 25.2 AA MIRP 2023 40+
19 Noah Song 24.8 A- SP 2023 40+
20 Brainer Bonaci 19.7 A 3B 2024 40
21 Kutter Crawford 25.9 MLB SP 2022 40
22 Eduard Bazardo 26.5 MLB SIRP 2022 40
23 Connor Wong 25.8 MLB C 2022 40
24 Jacob Wallace 23.6 A+ SIRP 2023 40
25 Juan Chacon 19.3 R CF 2024 40
26 Cameron Cannon 24.4 AA 2B 2023 40
27 Josh Winckowski 23.7 AAA MIRP 2022 40
28 Niko Kavadas 22.7 A DH 2025 40
29 Nick Decker 22.4 A RF 2023 40
30 Chih-Jung Liu 22.9 A SIRP 2024 40
31 Matthew Lugo 20.8 A SS 2024 40
32 Frank German 24.5 AA SIRP 2022 40
33 Eduardo Lopez 19.8 A CF 2023 35+
34 Eddinson Paulino 19.7 R SS 2024 35+
35 Zack Kelly 27.0 AAA SIRP 2023 35+
36 Bradley Blalock 21.2 A SP 2025 35+
37 Enderso Lira 18.4 R C 2026 35+
38 Chris Murphy 23.8 AA MIRP 2023 35+
39 Brendan Cellucci 23.7 A+ SIRP 2022 35+
40 Freili Encarnacion 17.1 R 3B 2027 35+
41 Jeremy Wu-Yelland 22.7 A+ SIRP 2024 35+
42 Tyler Dearden 23.7 A+ LF 2024 35+
43 Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz 17.9 R SIRP 2026 35+
44 Naysbel Marcano 19.8 R C 2023 35+
45 Durbin Feltman 24.9 AAA SIRP 2022 35+
46 Andrew Politi 25.8 AA SIRP 2022 35+
47 Dylan Spacke 24.0 A+ SIRP 2023 35+
48 Wyatt Olds 22.6 A SIRP 2025 35+
49 Bryan Gonzalez 20.5 R RF 2024 35+
50 Luis Perales 18.9 R SIRP 2025 35+
51 Reidis Sena 20.9 R SIRP 2024 35+
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55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from American Heritage HS (FL) (BOS)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 252 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 60/60 50/60 30/20 40/45 55

In September of 2020, Casas, after being drilled by a Tanner Houck pitch during a simulated game at the alternate site, declined to take first base and instead proceeded to launch a no-doubt moonshot out of the park. It’s only natural to assume that Casas’ career will be speckled with folktales like this for as long as he’s on the diamond. Built like Paul Bunyan, the long-levered, 6-foot-5 lefty is an undeniable presence in the box. He chokes up on his bat with an upright stance followed by an exaggerated step toward the pitcher early in the count, but he adjusts with two strikes, seemingly taking up every inch of the batter’s box with a wide, stride-free stance geared toward more contact. The result is a power-forward profile enhanced by a mature feel for the strike zone. In 2021, Casas spent time at Double- and Triple-A, as well as the Tokyo Olympics, where he led Team USA in home runs and RBI. His combined for a .279/.394/.484 slashline at the two minor league levels, with a 15.4% walk rate against just a 19.1% strikeout rate (he walked as often as he struck out in his nine Triple-A games). He’s too big to play anywhere but first, but he’s a good defensive fit there.

2. Marcelo Mayer, SS

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Eastlake HS (CA) (BOS)
Age 18.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 45/55 20/55 40/40 40/50 60

While there wasn’t an overwhelming consensus around who the top player in the 2021 draft was, if you polled all of the decision-makers, Mayer would have at least won that tally. With the top of the draft often defined by bonus demands as much as talent, Mayer dropped to fourth overall, and the Red Sox were happy to scoop him up and sign him to a higher dollar amount than first overall pick Henry Davis. Mayer checks a tremendous number of boxes. He has a big, projectable frame, a mature approach, and a downright pretty left-handed stroke that combines power with a good feel for contact. Evaluators looking to nitpick Mayer’s game point out fringy home-to-first times and an awkward running gait. A knee-jerk reaction to those nits might lead you to question his ability to stay at shortstop, but he quickly sets aside those concerns once he takes the field, as his instincts, first-step quickness and strong arm make up for the lack of twitch. Prospects who combine up-the-middle defensive prowess with a chance to hit in the middle of the order are rare, and while Mayer comes with all of the usual risks associated with players still in their teens, the upside here is impossible to ignore.

3. Nick Yorke, 2B

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Archbishop Mitty HS (CA) (BOS)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 40/45 30/50 50/45 30/40 30

Yorke was the biggest surprise of the 2020 draft’s first round, but by the end of the 2021 season, he had opposing clubs going back over their processes to figure out what they had missed about him as an amateur. Yorke’s 2021 pro debut was a rousing success, as he hit .325/.412/.516 across two A-levels as a teenager and left both scouts and analysts struggling to find a weakness in his offensive game. Everything about Yorke’s ability with a bat in his hands is advanced. He makes outstanding swing decisions, though he’ll likely never be a walk machine due to his plus-plus contact skills, which feature outstanding plate coverage and enough sneaky pop to project as average down the road. He’s worked on his athleticism as a pro and runs better (now average) than he did as an amateur; he now projects as a solid defensive second baseman, though his arm is still a bit fringy after some injuries during his prep days. Beyond the skills, he earns raves for his makeup and has a reputation as a tireless worker who is driven to improve. Yorke is a potentially special hitter who could slot into the two-hole in any lineup, capable of hitting .300 with 15-20 home runs annually in his prime. We’ll know more about his chances of reaching those heights after he gets his first taste of the upper minors in 2022.

45+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 55/60 25/50 94-96 / 98

Gonzalez zoomed up this list in July 2021 with an outstanding showing in the Florida Complex League that left scouts buzzing about both the depth and maturity of his arsenal. While he’s a bit on the small side, Gonzalez is an electric athlete with a smooth delivery and an exceptionally quick arm that produces 93-95 mph fastballs that touch 98, with scouts projecting for even more as his frame continues to fill out. He already has a pair of above-average offspeed pitches, with his plus curveball featuring big spin rates and two-plane movement, while his changeup features strong downward action. Gonzalez can get a bit loose in the zone, but it’s not a major concern and should tighten up as he gets more experience. The biggest question is his future role, as despite the starter’s package in terms of stuff and control, his frame leaves some wondering if he’ll end up in the bullpen down the road. His full-season debut will be among the most anticipated in the system.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 21.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 212 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 45/50 30/35 70/70 45/60 60

Jimenez generated a lot of interest coming into 2021, and a quick glance at his stats might lead you to believe that he capitalized on the spotlight, finishing the season with a .306/.346/.405 line, numbers made all the more impressive when you consider that he’s just 20 years old and was coming off a lost year of development. But if you go beyond the surface, it becomes clear that his lack of progress in some the areas actually contributed to him being left off the 40-man roster and exposed to the now-canceled Rule 5 draft.

Some relevant context: Since signing, he’s started switch hitting, making consistent contact from both sides of the plate over his first couple years of short-season ball. When he added about 50 pounds of good weight without sacrificing his athleticism, the hope was that he’d add in-game power to the equation, but that power didn’t show up in 2021; of his 114 hits at Low-A, 89 were singles and just three left the park. From the right side, he sets up with a closed stance and times his swing with a pronounced leg kick, which he eliminates from his more open, slash-and-dash lefty cut. But neither of those swings have been altered in a way that capitalizes on his newly embulkened physique. His swing is flat through the zone from both sides, and even when he does tap into his power, his top hand drags his bat through the zone, with he back arm supplying little additional force. It’s a slap-hitter approach that belies his build. Moreover, Jimenez’s power production issues have been compounded by an increase in strikeouts and a dip in his already-low career walk rate. He’s a hyper-athletic switch-hitter with clear bat-to-ball skills and plus speed, and he’s still just 21 years old, but the power and his sense for the strike zone are still in need of improvement. Jimenez isn’t all that different than the Brewers Garrett Mitchell, who also is a swing change away from a breakout, except Jimenez is a couple years younger.

45 FV Prospects

6. Miguel Bleis, RF

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 18.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 45/60 25/60 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, he’s already creating a bit of buzz on the back fields this spring. You want tools? Bleis has you covered. His ultra-athletic, extra-long frame oozes projection, and he already features above-average raw power for his age, as well as plus speed. He’s an aggressive hitter, but also showed much more contact ability than expected during his pro debut. He’s a graceful defender in center field with an average arm, but there is some risk that he puts on enough weight to move him to a corner. No matter the excitement about the tools, any 18-year-old who has yet to play in the US is extremely high variance by default, but Bleis also provides the highest upside among Boston’s talented young group from Latin America, on par with the kind of high school outfielders who go in the middle of a draft’s first round. There was industry support to slot him as high as fourth in this org.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Cal State Fullerton (PHI)
Age 26.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 50/50 45/45 55/60 55/60 90-93 / 94

Seabold missed all of May and June with elbow inflammation, making his first starts of the 2021 season on the complex in mid-July before joining Triple-A later that month. He throws his fastball with more spin than its low-90s velo would imply, and its flat angle and spin axis give it carry. He’s shown the ability to pair his four-seamer with his plus changeup, which he throws with significantly less velocity (in the low-80s) and late fade, often wreaking havoc on hitters’ timing. But when the velocities of those pitches dip, as was the case in 2021 (perhaps a result of the elbow issue that sidelined him earlier in the season), advanced hitters have been able to square them up. As a result, the aforementioned havoc was not wreaked when Seabold was called upon to make his big league debut after Chris Sale tested positive for COVID. Seabold lasted three innings and allowed three hits, including a Leury García two-run no-doubter on an 80 mph changeup he left over the heart of the plate. He also walked two and failed to issue a strikeout – a far cry from the 25.3% strikeout rate and 1.06 WHIP he’d posted at Triple-A. He was sent back down once the COVID cloud lifted and made three more starts in 2021, including one that saw him leave the game after just 2.1 innings and another during which he didn’t strike anyone out. There are some justifiable concerns about durability here, but Seabold seemed fine during his Fall League stint when he again sat mostly 90-93 mph and showed a plus changeup.

8. Brayan Bello, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 55/60 30/40 92-95 / 98

After adding significant velocity in 2019 and ‘20, Bello continued that trend in ’21. His fastball now sits 95-98 mph (no doubt aided by the muscle he added to his 6-foot-1 frame during the lost 2020 season) and touches 100 with occasional movement to his arm-side. And while it doesn’t have the backspin necessary to create carry up in the zone, his approach angle allows his heater to play as though it does. Bello mixes the fastball with two plus secondaries: a velo-driven slider that he threw with more consistent bite in 2021, and sneaky good changeup that falls off the table to miss bats from both sides of the plate. In 21 games (six at High-A, the rest at Double-A), Bello combined for a 32.8% strikeout rate and a 7.7% walk rate. His delivery is reliever-y, but the stuff is good enough to give him the edge, and he’s poised for a high-leverage setup role.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Colombia (TBR)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 60/60 40/45 30/30 40/40 70

Hernández has undeniable raw power, but his poor swing decisions dull the shine of that thump and have caused some to worry that he won’t be able to get to it consistently in games. Indeed, his strikeouts ticked up at Double-A and during his seven-game promotion to Triple-A to finish out the 2021 season, and he posted just a 3% walk rate across both levels. But while that type of swing-happy approach typically prevents prospects from tapping into their in-game power, that hasn’t been the case for Hernández. He slashed .280/.319/.506 at Double-A, then .333/.400/.444 in his brief Triple-A stint, posting a wRC+ well above league average at both stops. His swing is only suited to generate power in specific parts of the strike zone, but luckily that includes the upper part, where more advanced pitchers hope to blow their fastballs by hitters. Hernández’s swing keeps his bat high before cutting down through the hitting zone, allowing him to make more impactful contact and create backspin on fastballs up, giving them enough carry to soar off his bat. He’s also continued to improve his timing via an open stance and the leg kick he introduced in 2020. He spent most of 2021 behind the dish, with a one-game stint at first base, and has adopted a one-knee crouch back there, which has improved his receiving on low pitches and his blocking on balls in the dirt. Even if Hernández doesn’t stick behind the plate, his power has proven impactful enough for him to project as a flawed slugging catcher who still contributes.

10. Brandon Walter, SP

Drafted: 26th Round, 2019 from Delaware (BOS)
Age 25.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 50/55 40/50 92-95 / 96

A 26th-round pick in 2019, Walter’s stuff has come a long way since he turned pro, and after putting up a 36.2% strikeout rate in 2021 while holding opposing batters to a sub-.300 on-base and slugging percentage, he’s graduated from being an organizational arm to someone with the pure stuff to pitch in the big leagues. Walter now sits 93-95 mph while touching 97, but his fastball can be a little flat at times. His best pitch is one of the better sliders in the system, combing almost frisbee-level sweep with low-80s velocity. He’s developed a nifty changeup as well, which allows him to avoid the kind of platoon split issues many low-angle arms have. While Walter was converted to the rotation following his promotion to High-A in 2021, his funky delivery is far from easy looking on the surface and still provides considerable relief risk. He could move quickly in a bullpen role, but there is no reason for him not to continue on a starter track for now.

40+ FV Prospects

11. Jeter Downs, 2B

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Monsignor Pace HS (FL) (CIN)
Age 23.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 50/50 40/45 40/40 50/50 50

Downs’ pedigree as an advanced-for-his-age hitter dates back to his high school days and had been a through line of his professional career coming into last season. But even with that track record, in his write up last year, Eric wondered if Downs’ bat path, specifically the way his hands load, would make him vulnerable to advanced pitching up and in on his hands. In 2021, that prediction seemed to manifest, with Downs swinging and missing at fastballs in the upper part of the zone throughout the season. Perhaps due to the noise in his hands – they seem to move up and over in a circle, making two brief stops before arriving at their final load placement – he consistently swung under those offerings, resulting in 32.3% strikeout rate and a flimsy slash line of .190/.272/.333 on the season. He crushed Fall League pitching which was, on average, much worse than what he saw at Triple-A, but still struck out a lot there. It’s not impossible to plug holes in a swing like Downs’, whether by cultivating flatter, contact-driven mechanics geared at throwing the head of his bat across the top of the zone or adopting count-specific adjustments to shorten him up when these types of fastballs are more likely to be thrown. Downs had always performed with this swing, and we don’t know why suddenly this happened to be exposed at Triple-A. There’s a chance that 2021 was just an anomalistic blip and that we’ve fallen victim to some confirmation bias with regard to Downs’ swing, but the drop off in his performance has us projecting him in the part-time infield role area.

12. Bryan Mata, MIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 238 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/45 50/50 55/60 40/50 93-96 / 99

2019 felt like a bit of a breakthrough for Mata, as he finally stayed healthy and started to harness his stuff. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and an early 2021 Tommy John surgery, it’s also the last time he’s taken the mound in an official capacity. The healthy version of Mata remains an intriguing prospect. While the shape of his fastball is uninspiring, he makes up for it a bit with mid-90s velocity that has gone as high as 99 mph in the past, though the pitch also gets hit hard more often than the radar gun readings would suggest it should. His very hard slider (upper-80s) gives him a plus breaking ball to go along with a changeup that is firmer than average but still has some fade, and he mixes in a low-80s curve that he uses early in counts to keep hitters off balance. Mata is a below average athlete who is quite bulky and struggles to keep his delivery synced up, which has led to bouts of command inconsistency. Mata turns 23 in May, and should be ready to return to the mound this summer in what it feels like a bit of a make-or-break season for him.

13. Jay Groome, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Barnegat HS (NJ) (BOS)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 262 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 40/45 55/55 45/50 40/50 92-94 / 95

Coming into 2021, Groome was a bit of a paradox, a prospect we knew well, but who still inspired questions due to a track record riddled with injuries and a fluctuating physical makeup. Since returning from Tommy John, his signature curveball hasn’t been quite as jaw-dropping as it was before surgery, but it’s still well above average. It has been edged out by his velocity-driven slider, and his changeup, though average, is consistent enough to round out his four-pitch mix. His fastball was back to the mid-90s in 2021, but that velocity declined over the course of the season, resting in the low-90s by September. The early innings of his starts also tend to be more dominant than the later ones, so the durability concerns may not just apply to his season-long trajectory but also to his day-to-day performance. But Groome posted a strikeout rate above 30% before being promoted to Double-A and improved on that mark over his three-start sample there, punching out 26 batters in 15.2 innings while issuing just four walks. His ceiling isn’t as high as it once was, now maxing out at the back of a rotation, and it comes with a floor that is still rather low given the body concerns and injury history. But that Groome performed well over a full season during which he stayed healthy is plenty promising on its own.

14. Tyler McDonough, CF

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from North Carolina State (BOS)
Age 22.3 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+
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 July, McDonough was a classic “go to school, kid” player coming out of high school. He took full advantage of the opportunity by showing blossoming power to go with a solid contact ability. Unfairly classified as a grinder in college because of his smallish frame, McDonough has some interesting tools as well. With good swing decisions and a viscerally appealing cut from both sides of the plate, he works the count and tends to put balls in play while also showing enough sneaky pop to get to double-digit home run totals down the road. Primarily a center fielder at NC State, McDonough has solid speed, and while he is a bit short on up-the-middle range, he should be able to play anywhere in the outfield. He also has some infield experience, and the Red Sox have given him some reps at second base in an attempt to increase his positional flexibility. There’s a utility feel here overall, but there’s enough offensive potential to give him a chance at everyday work.

15. David Hamilton, SS

Drafted: 8th Round, 2019 from Texas (MIL)
Age 24.5 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 40/40 30/35 60/60 50/55 45

A torn Achilles tendon in 2019 cost Hamilton his junior year at Texas; the injury 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. Hamilton is a small infielder who looks to draw walks, make contact and run. He makes good swing decisions and tends to put the bat on the ball, but his power is well below average and there is no room for projection on his diminutive frame. More a plus runner than a true burner, Hamilton’s aggressiveness, combined with outstanding baserunning instincts, make him a threat to go every time he’s standing at first; he stole 52 bases in 101 games last year for an 85% success rate. He covers plenty of ground at shortstop, but his fringy arm leaves him exposed at times. Hamilton is a grinder with some tools. He has a floor as a nice bench player with some late-inning utility on the base paths. He’ll likely begin the 2022 season at Double-A.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from DeSoto Central HS (MS) (BOS)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 55/60 30/55 35/30 30/55 50

Jordan was lined up as one of the best high school players in the 2021 draft, but he reclassified for 2020 and then gave teams mixed signals as to his signability. The Red Sox inked him to a $1.75 million bonus as a third round pick, and his prospect status has improved since signing thanks to better defense and a reworked swing. Despite being a year younger than most 2020 prep draftees, Jordan had some of the best power in the class and has already shown it in games as a professional. Seen as a bit of a power-only type as an amateur, he’s calmed down his swing significantly as a pro, giving him better plate coverage and allowing his considerable strength to work for him, as opposed to trying to muscle up on every swing. He can get aggressive at the plate, and while strikeouts will always be part of his game, the initial returns don’t have them looking like the potential impediment they once did. Jordan has also worked hard on his glove work, going from a no-doubt first baseman to someone who might be able to play third base in a pinch down the road. Much of it will come down to his frame; Jordan is in tremendous shape, but he’s also exceptionally large for a teenager and could end up bulking his way out of any defensive position with value. He remains a high-risk/high-upside type of prospect, but his professional career so far has reduced the bust percentage a bit.

17. Alex Binelas, 3B

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from Louisville (MIL)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/50 30/50 30/30 30/45 40

Binelas was one of the enigmas of the 2021 draft. He entered his draft season with first-round dreams as a bat-first prospect with enough offense to get him into Day One, but an up-and-down spring that featured more instances of the latter than the former dropped him to the third round. He was selected by his home state Brewers, and after a fantastic pro debut during which he put up a 1.014 OPS in 29 A-ball games, he was a key part of the deal that netted Hunter Renfroe. Binelas’ calling card is plus-plus raw power and the ability to get to it in games. It’s a big, brutish swing that is designed for just one thing: doing major damage. He’s capable of no-doubters from pole-to-pole, but it comes with plenty of swing-and-miss and an approach that while far from a disaster, is still on the aggressive side. Binelas will have to punish baseballs all the way up the ladder, as he provides very little in the field. He’s a below-average defender at both third and first base, though some feel that he has enough athleticism despite his hefty frame to give left field a try. The Red Sox will likely send Binelas to High-A Greenville, and his bat will determine his progression from there.

18. Thaddeus Ward, MIRP

Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from UCF (BOS)
Age 25.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 192 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/55 45/45 40/45 50/55 40/45 90-94 / 96

A fifth-round pick in 2018, Ward brokeout in his full-season debut, but his ’21 season was defined by two mediocre starts at Double-A followed by a June Tommy John surgery that will at least delay his 2022 season. Ward can dominate at times with his cutter/slider combination, with the latter featuring massive sweep and earning plus or better grades from evaluators. He attempts to set those pitches up with a low-90s sinker, but it’s his worst pitch, and he might end up needing to pitch backwards more as he moves through the system. He has flashed a solid changeup as well, a pitch some feel he should use more in early counts to keep hitters from timing his fastball. Strike throwing and pitch efficiency were issues for Ward before the elbow injury, and can be the last things to come around when recovering from arm surgery, so his expected late-season return (he’s a good Fall League candidate) will be more about getting him going again as opposed to worrying too much about development. If the stuff returns, he has back-of-the-rotation potential, but he’s more likely to slot into a multi-inning relief role.

19. Noah Song, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Navy (BOS)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 50/55 40/45 40/50 93-95 / 99

Any successful evaluation of prospects is based on a historical understanding of other prospects. Here is what this player looks like right now in terms of age, tools, and skills, and here’s what players who look like that tend to project as. That essential rubric is impossible to apply to Song, who had first-round talent but fell to the fourth round of the 2019 draft due to a naval service commitment of imprecisely-determined length. Ignoring that for a moment, Song is certainly an interesting power arm. He touched 99 mph for Team USA during his draft year and features a pair of plus breaking balls with a hard, darting slider and a slow but very deep curveball. His changeup will need development as a pro, as will his command; while he generally throws strikes, he fills the box far more than he locates his pitches. Instead of throwing bullpens, Song, who turns 25 in May, is in flight school, and while there are reasons to believe he could resume his baseball career as early as this summer, nothing is set in stone as of list publication. The stuff and ability to pitch in the big leagues is there, but we just don’t know enough about Song’s availability to do so.

40 FV Prospects

20. Brainer Bonaci, 3B

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 19.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/40 40/30 30/45 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 singing, leaving him a 40-45 runner who gets by at shortstop more on instincts and fundamentals than twitch, and he might be better suited at second or third base in the end. Bonaci’s most likely outcome lies somewhere between utility player and second division starter. He should make his full-season debut in 2022.

21. Kutter Crawford, SP

Drafted: 16th Round, 2017 from Florida Gulf Coast (BOS)
Age 25.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 209 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/55 40/45 50/50 50/55 91-95 / 96

2021 was Crawford’s first season back following Tommy John surgery, and he wasted no time advancing through the system, starting 10 games at Double-A, nine at Triple-A, and getting a one-start cup of coffee in the bigs, though that may have come slightly ahead of schedule, as he was called upon to fill in for Nick Pivetta during a COVID outbreak in early September. Crawford’s fastball sits in the mid-90s, and he mixes it with a hard cutter, a sweeping, upper-70s curveball, and a fringy changeup that he tends not to favor. None of those pitches are particularly dazzling, but he creates deception with the pace of his delivery and a short arm action that catches hitters off guard. His reputation as a strike-thrower who attacks the zone but lacks stellar secondaries preceded him when he made his major league debut, with opposing batters swinging early and punishing him for occasional lapses in command that he was more easily able to get away with in the minors. Overall, though, Crawford’s command improved across the board in 2021, which in turn improved his odds of weaponizing a good-not-great pitch mix. He picked up 21.1 more innings in the Dominican Winter League and held his summer velo down there. In all, he posted a 118 healthy innings coming off of TJ. He projects to be a 2022 rotation contributor after having been added to the 40-man prior to the lockout.

22. Eduard Bazardo, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 26.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 70/70 45/50 30/35 94-96 / 98

Moving to a ‘pen role put Bazardo on a path to the big leagues, but his brief Boston debut in April was interrupted by a lat strain that hampered much of his 2021 campaign. Bazardo’s fastball doesn’t have overwhelming velocity for a reliever, but his 92-95 mph heater features sneaky deception, as an upwardly-tilted wrist produces a far more vertical shape than one would expect from his three-quarters release point. His low-80s breaking ball features big sweeping action, and he has a solid split/change that gives him a go-to secondary weapon against same-side hitters. There’s some effort to Bazardo’s delivery, and he features average control with fringy command. Already 26 years old, Bazardo’s 2022 season will help the Red Sox learn if his future is closer to an up-and-down reliever floor or a dependable, low-leverage bullpen arm ceiling.

23. Connor Wong, C

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Houston (LAD)
Age 25.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 50/50 40/45 50/50 45/50 50

Wong has a wiry, athletic build that makes him a potential fit at multiple positions, though aside from one game at second, thus far he’s only caught in his pro career. That time behind the plate included a few games in the majors in 2021, during which he notched four hits in 13 at-bats. Two of those went for extra-bases, though it should be noted that his big league triple was on a 60 mph offering from Rays catcher Francisco Mejía, who was eating innings on the mound during blowout. Much more impressive was Wong’s double off of Shohei Ohtani, which banged off the right field wall. In fact, all three of his hits to come against actual big league pitching went to the opposite field and came on pitches on the outer half of the plate, an area of the zone where he had at times seemed vulnerable while in the lower levels of the minors. But he has steadily improved against offerings there, employing a slap-hitting approach and spraying peripheral pitches to right. That said, his ability to adjust his barrel to pitches at various locations has made for a swing-happy approach; in his tiny sample of big league at-bats, Wong struck out 50% of the time. He didn’t strike out quite that much at Triple-A, though a 27.9% K rate isn’t exactly stellar, especially when paired with a walk rate below 5%. His approach will have to be refined as he continues to develop, but his defense behind the plate continues to bolster his chances of sticking there, at least in a backup capacity, allowing for a potential multi-position utility role.

24. Jacob Wallace, SIRP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Connecticut (COL)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/60 50/55 30/40 94-97 / 99

Acquired as the PTBNL in the 2020 deal that sent Kevin Pillar to Colorado, Wallace put up an ERA near six for High-A Greenville, but also whiffed 76 over 48.2 innings and generated some impressive pitch data. Wallace brings plenty of heat, sitting 94-97 mph with a four-seam fastball that has scraped 99 at times. His hard slider features top-of-the-scale spin rates, but it lacks spin efficiency and comes in as a rifle type with little movement. He’s developed a solid changeup as a pro and is comfortable using it against right-handed hitters. Command and control are the issues for Wallace, who earns sub-40 grades from some on those aspects of his game. It’s not too complicated: If he can throw more strikes, he has a path to the big leagues. If not, Wallace has a path to frustrating up-and-down possibilities.

25. Juan Chacon, CF

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 40/50 20/50 60/55 45/55 55

Chacon was Boston’s top international signee in 2019 in terms of bonus received ($900,000), and the Venezuelan native’s pro debut showed that he has both plenty of potential and plenty of work to do. Chacon has an impressive 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame to go along with good athleticism and boatloads of projection. He shows a solid approach with some feel for contact, and while he’s yet to hit for power in games, some predict he will show average or better thump down the road. He’s an average runner who has split time between center and right field, but he will likely end up in the corner spot, where his arm is adequate for the position but not a true weapon. This is a high variance prospect who will likely begin the year in extended spring training before playing in the Complex League.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Arizona (BOS)
Age 24.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/50 30/40 45/40 40/45 50

Cannon’s incredible college statistical performance, including a 1.129 OPS during his junior year at Arizona, led to his selection in the second round of the 2019 draft despite scout concerns about his fringy tool set, and his pandemic-delayed full-season debut did little to determine whether the eyeball evaluations or the models were right. Cannon has impressed so far with his consistent ability to make contact. He has a simple, quick-initiating swing and the hand-eye coordination to make adjustments, although some scouts noted that he did most of his damage against fastballs. He’s not without power, but is more of a doubles machine with a chance to hit for double-digit bombs down the road. His ability to hit works against him in terms of plate discipline, as he’s an early action player who steps to the plate looking to put the ball in play. The real question for Cannon is whether his offensive ability is enough for an everyday role. With a wide body, and fringy speed and arm strength, he don’t have a comfortable infield position other than second base, and there’s no real utility floor for a player of that archetype. Cannon will continue his attempt to hit his way to the big leagues with his first taste of the upper levels in 2022.

Drafted: 15th Round, 2016 from Estero HS (FL) (TOR)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 202 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 60/60 40/45 45/50 93-96 / 98

Winckowski lived in the Others of Note section on past Blue Jays lists, sitting in the low-90s, wielding a good slider, and looking like a fringe middle reliever at the time. He was traded twice within a couple of weeks, first to the Mets as part of the Steven Matz trade, then to Boston as part of the multi-team Andrew Benintendi deal. Over the course of three years, he has added a better split/change and started throwing harder, and he sustained that velocity over 20 starts in 2021 before wrapping his year up in relief in the Arizona Fall League. Winckowski went from topping out around 94 mph to sitting there, and he sat 95-96 during short outings in Arizona. His best secondary pitch is a mid-80s “slider” that has such vertically-oriented shape that you may consider it a hard curveball. Those pitches don’t always have big depth, but when they do, they look like ridiculous 85-86 mph curves and are clearly plus. Winckowski’s changeup is also firm, often in the 89-92 mph range. He alters his release in a recognizable way when he throws it, but it still has enough movement to induce weak contact even when hitters aren’t totally fooled. We tend to think he’ll end up in the bullpen, but he has the stamina to give you length in the middle innings.

28. Niko Kavadas, DH

Drafted: 11th Round, 2021 from Notre Dame (BOS)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 65/65 55/60 30/30 45/45 40

Kavadas had a monster spring at Notre Dame, with 50 walks and 22 home runs in 47 games helping him put together an eye-popping batting line of .302/.473/.767. There was some talk of him going as high as the second or third round, but a surprising tumble to Day Three ended in the 11th round, where he signed for a $250,000 bonus. Power is the calling card for Kavadas. He had some of the best exit velocities in the class, and is capable of majestic moonshots when he successfully pulls a fastball. He combines that with an exceptionally patient approach that crosses the line into passive at times, and amateur scouts almost universally saw him as a power-over-hit type with a sub-50 bat who will always be prone to strikeouts. To get to the big leagues, Kavadas is going to have to produce at the plate. He has a frame more suitable for beer league softball, and is a well below average runner and a fringy defender at first base who some think would be better off as a designated hitter. He has everything it takes to put up some big numbers in the minors, but it will be difficult for him to improve his prospect stock much until his succeeds at the upper levels and proves his power and patience are enough for a big league role.

29. Nick Decker, RF

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Seneca HS (NJ) (BOS)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 207 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 35/50 50/45 40/50 50

Decker’s pre-draft pedigree as a Northeastern high schooler on the older side for his draft class put extra pressure on his early statistical performance, but because of a wrist injury in 2019 and the lost ’20 season, he came into last year having yet to compile many at-bats against pro pitching. In the few reps he had accrued, he’d struck out 30% of the time, largely due to the steep learning curve he was up against. After missing about a month early in 2021, he finished the year with a 28.4% K-rate over 68 Low-A games, but boosted his performance with a 12.7% walk rate, 18 doubles, and eight home runs, good for a 126 wRC+. Decker’s swing is long and uphill, and still largely untested against advanced pitching. He has yet to see 300 plate appearances in a single season, and has struggled mightily against lefties thus far. Until he can prove he can adapt to pro pitching on a consistent basis and more reliably tap into his power, he projects to be a solid lefty-hitting platoon outfielder with a plus arm.

30. Chih-Jung Liu, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Taiwan (BOS)
Age 22.9 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 93-96 / 98

Liu looked different at 2020 instructs than he had as an amateur in Taiwan, with his fastball velocity dipping into the low-90s, as opposed to the near-triple digits he’d reached before his J2 signing in ’19. His stuff ticked back up in his first few starts of 2021, sitting in the 93-96 mph range, but he wasn’t able to keep it there as the season went on and it fell back to the 90-93 range in his later outings. On the season, he pitched 55.1 innings, with a 25.4% strikeout rate against 8.9% walks. It’s fair to allow some leeway here, though, considering he’s a converted two-way player who only committed to the mound in 2019 and followed that up with a year of limited access to professional development during the shutdown. Along with his fastball, Liu offers an average, mid-80s slider, a changeup with occasional late drop, and a mid-70s curveball with inconsistent movement. He signed somewhat late by the standards of Taiwanese prospects, who typically sign as teenagers, but he is still just 22 with room on his upper body to add muscle and time to refine his feel for strike-throwing.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Beltran Academy HS (PR) (BOS)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 187 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 40/50 30/40 55/55 45/50 55

Once a much-hyped amateur prospect (his uncle is Carlos Beltrán), Lugo was selected later in the 2019 draft than many expected and has since left some evaluators disillusioned. His .270/.338/.364 line at Low-A in 2021 was a hair below league average, and his defense at short, while reliable, isn’t characterized by the arm utility usually displayed at the position. And while he’s continued to grow into his frame, his compact swing has remained more contact-driven than geared at tapping into his strength. But breaking Lugo’s season into segments illuminates that while he got off to a terrible start in 2021, he turned it around for a pretty decent second half. At the end of June, he was hitting .228 with a .551 OPS; from that point on, however, he slashed .303/.383/.429, while walking more than 10% of the time, good for a 124 wRC+. The trick will be carrying that momentum into the 2022 season while adding more consistent power to the mix. Otherwise, he’ll likely wind up a generic bench infielder.

32. Frank German, SIRP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from North Florida (NYY)
Age 24.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 40/50 45/50 35/40 92-96 / 98

Acquired from the Yankees as part of the return for Adam Ottavino, German’s Red Sox debut was plagued by inconsistency and an ugly final stat line, but a second-half velocity spike left Boston optimistic about his future. With an athletic frame and delivery, German was in the low-to-mid-90s with his fastball for much of the year, but suddenly began touching 97-98 mph with greater regularity during the final month of the season. His breaking ball effectiveness is driven more by velocity than spin, and he’s struggled to find a consistent changeup. His ability to command his stuff waivers during games, and we believe he’d be best suited to a bullpen role that simplified his arsenal and approach. Still looking for consistent success in a full-season league, German will likely return to Double-A this year in a yet-to-be-determined role.

35+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 187 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/50 20/40 55/55 45/60 55

After signing for seven figures out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, the pandemic and injuries have hampered Lopez’s development to the point where his game hasn’t really progressed since his Dominican Summer League days. Medium-sized with a slight frame, Lopez is a fluid athlete with a smooth, well-connected swing from both sides of the plate and decent feel for contact. He currently shows little to no in-game power, and it’s difficult to project anything more than 40 pop as he matures. He’s an average runner with good outfield instincts and a plus arm, but he’ll need to maintain his good-but-not-great speed to be able to play center at an acceptable clip. Lopez is a frustrating player who is not without upside, but at some point, that upside has to show itself on the field.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 19.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 30/40 20/35 50/50 30/45 50

Paulino wasn’t a hyped international signing because he wasn’t a true shortstop, but all he’s done so far in pro ball is impress both scouts and the stat sheet with his hitting ability. Paulino has excellent bat control and hand-eye coordination, spraying the ball all over the field with a line drive stroke designed for contact. His smallish, wiry frame makes it difficult to project anything more than gap power in his future. His ability to put the bat on the ball impedes his approach at times, but he’s made strides in that department. An average runner with a solid arm, Paulino has already been moved off shortstop and has mostly split time between second and third base in the Complex League, but most evaluators see him as a right-side only infielder, which puts more pressure on the offense. He’s lined up to make his full-season debut as a teenager.

35. Zack Kelly, SIRP

Undrafted Free Agent, 2017 (OAK)
Age 27.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 45/45 30/35 93-96 / 98

It’s been quite a ride for Kelly, who entered professional baseball as a undrafted free agent. He has been released multiple times, dealt with elbow issues, and now suddenly finds himself with a real chance of reaching the big leagues in 2022 thanks to much improved velocity. Kelly is a big, burly man with a big, burly fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 97-98 mph at times. He’s never developed a real breaking ball, but does go to a solid upper-80s cutter at times, with his primary secondary offering being a plus low-80s changeup that features big velocity separation and plenty of drop and fade. Kelly throws enough strikes to succeed, but there’s little precision to his game. The 27-year-old has had a long, strange trip through pro ball, and likely is what he is at this point, but it should be enough for a limited bullpen role at the highest level.

36. Bradley Blalock, SP

Drafted: 37th Round, 2019 from Grayson HS (GA) (BOS)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/50 30/45 30/40 30/45 93-95 / 98

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. Blalock has added a couple ticks to his fastball since signing and now sits at 93-95 mph while touching 97; the pitch is complemented by excellent shape, including big hopping action. It’s easily a plus-or-better pitch, but the rest of Blalock’s arsenal still needs work. His low-80s slider is hard but features little break or bite, while his changeup is both firm and a bit flat. His command is also on the fringy side. There’s some effort to his delivery, and thus considerable relief risk, but Blalock’s fastball at least gives him a very impressive starting point from which to continue his development, likely starting at High-A in 2022.

37. Enderso Lira, C

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 18.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/45 20/45 30/20 40/50 50

Lira was one of the 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. Lira has a well built, athletic frame with plenty of projection. He showed excellent swing decisions at the complex as well as a feel for contact, and many see the potential for as much as average power as his game develops. He moves well behind the plate and has an average arm that is buoyed by plus accuracy. He’ll likely begin 2022 in extended spring training before making his stateside debut in the Complex League.

38. Chris Murphy, MIRP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from San Diego (BOS)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 40/40 45/50 50/55 35/40 89-93 / 95

Murphy didn’t have good surface-level performance in 2021, as he ran a 4.62 ERA split between High- and Double-A. His stuff still looks pretty good, though: he sits 92-93 mph with flat angle, he has a plus changeup, and his two breaking balls play thanks to his arm slot, at least in part. There are still various paths down which Murphy’s development may travel. He could be an inefficient spot starter if he continues down the one he’s currently on, while a velo spike and a more stable big league roster spot might await him if he moves to the bullpen, where he’d be an interesting bulk middle-innings option.

Drafted: 12th Round, 2019 from Tulane (BOS)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 60/60 45/50 20/35 94-96 / 97

Cellucci showed up to 2020 instructs having added a few ticks of velocity to his fastball, which sat 94-96 mph; that was still the case in ’21. He creates good shape on the heater with an over-the-top lefty delivery, but has yet to prove he can take advantage of it; his long arm action makes for a delivery that he has trouble repeating consistently. His slider flashes plus, but the same consistency issues that impact his fastball command impact his slider consistency. The location issues that marred his profile in his rookie season are still present, and while his strikeout rate increased in 2021, his walks did to, and he ended the season with a K-BB% identical to the one he posted in ’19. The solid foundation is there, Cellucci just needs to work on his ability to locate his three offerings in order to actualize his potential role as an impact reliever.

40. Freili Encarnacion, 3B

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 17.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 182 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 40/55 20/50 45/40 30/50 55

Encarnacion has a big, projectable frame that lets you dream on his solid-if-unspectacular current toolset. He signed for $1.1 million in January as Boston’s second-highest paid international addition behind Fraymi De Leon (in the Others of Note section below). We think Encarnacion is likely to end up at third base long-term, and on-paper performance is going to be an important part of him climbing the minors (and this list), but his frame supports sufficient projection in the power department for an eventual role.

41. Jeremy Wu-Yelland, SIRP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Hawaii (BOS)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/60 45/45 45/50 30/35 92-95 / 96

An athletic lefty from Hawaii who has big arm strength but very little touch-and-feel for location, Wu-Yelland projects as a reliever even though he’s been deployed as a starter so far in pro ball. He has rare lefty arm strength, sitting 94 mph and touching 98 from a low arm slot. He can run his four-seamer up the ladder or create huge tailing action on a two-seamer thanks to his lower arm slot, and Wu-Yelland’s two-planed slider (which has a plus-plus average spin rate) plays as a chase pitch to lefties and a back-foot weapon against righties. He deploys a tailing changeup about as often as the slider. It’s a great collection of pitches undercut by 30-grade control, which has us projecting Wu-Yelland in a single-inning role even though his repertoire depth would absolutely fit in long relief. He’s on track to be in Boston’s 2024 bullpen mix.

42. Tyler Dearden, LF

Drafted: 29th Round, 2017 from Rancocas Valley HS (NJ) (BOS)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 40/50 45/40 40/45 40

The Red Sox are as good as anyone at drafting high school players late and ultimately getting a deal done with them, and Dearden is their latest success story. Signing for $140,000 as a 29th-round pick in 2017 out of a New Jersey high school, the Red Sox expected the usual slow development path for a cold-weather player, and injuries delayed things further. All but off the radar entering the 2021 season, Dearden suddenly tapped into his power potential by hitting 24 tanks in just 97 games for High-A Greenville. With Dearden’s power comes the usual issues. His sudden ability to take balls over the fence led to some power-conscious habits and a significantly uphill swing plane, leading to plenty of swing-and-miss. He also struggles to get to his power against lefties, against whom only one of his home runs came. With fringy speed and a below-average arm, Dearden is limited to left field, so even with as large a step forward as he took in 2021, his future is nearly entirely dependent on his bat, meaning he’ll need to continue to work on his weaknesses at the plate. Dearden will get a big test in 2022 with an assignment to Double-A.

43. Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz, SIRP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2021 from Leadership Christian Academy (BOS)
Age 17.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
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 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. He showed a loose, whippy, inconsistent delivery on the showcase circuit and was sitting mostly 91-92 mph while topping out at 94. His curveball has good-looking shape but lacks power, and he has pretty crude feel for creating action on his changeup, but ERC is a premium arm talent developmental prospect.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 45/50 20/40 20/20 45/55 60

Marcano is on the long-term radar as a well-rounded, lower-level catching prospect. Signed in 2018, the missed pandemic season adds a weird hurdle to Marcano’s development as he’ll be new to full-season ball this year, which is also his 40-man roster evaluation year. He barely played in 2021. He’s a little swing happy and is definitely a power-over-hit type (à la Deivy Grullón), but he shows some advanced approach elements by cutting down on his stroke with two strikes, and he also has a plus, accurate arm. He’s a long-term developmental prospect at a key position.

45. Durbin Feltman, SIRP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from TCU (BOS)
Age 24.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 45/50 35/40 92-95 / 96

Feltman was one of the more dominant college relievers at Texas Christian in 2018, allowing just 12 hits over 24.1 innings to go along with a 46% strikeout rate. That was enough to make him a third round selection, and after showing improved command and control in 2021, he’s on the verge of making his Fenway Park debut. Sitting 92-94 mph while touching 96 with his fastball, Feltman doesn’t light up the radar gun with his velocity like he did in college (when he sat in the mid-to-upper-90s), but his overhand release and significant backspin creates one of the more purely vertical fastballs around and allows it to play up. He complements it with a mid-80s slider than has a bit of horizontal sweep to it, but it’s not a knockout weapon and likely leaves Feltman with the ceiling of a seventh-inning type. While Feltman’s stuff has regressed as a pro, he began better locating his stuff and sequencing his pitches in 2021, and had a 1.86 ERA and 0.828 WHIP over the final two months of the season at Triple-A Worcester. The industry was surprised Feltman was left off the 40-man roster at the end of the year, but the lack of a Rule 5 draft means that Boston will get the first shot to see if he can maintain 2021’s second-half improvements.

46. Andrew Politi, SIRP

Drafted: 15th Round, 2018 from Seton Hall (BOS)
Age 25.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 191 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 45/50 30/40 92-95 / 96

The Red Sox stretched Politi out and moved him into the rotation toward the end of his 2019 season at High-A. He performed well in that capacity, putting to effective use a mid-90s fastball/high-80s slider combo that is greatly aided by his deceptive delivery, while working to develop a lower-80s curveball and changeup. As he mixed those other two pitches in more frequently during his first full year as a starter, Politi saw the continuation of a years-long decrease in K-rate, while his walks remained at an uncomfortably high 11%. He also gave up 77 hits in his 75 Double-A innings, 11 of which left the park. As such, by the end of the season, he’d transitioned back into a full-time bullpen role, which he continued in the Fall League. He projects as an up/down relief type.

47. Dylan Spacke, SIRP

Drafted: 19th Round, 2019 from Long Beach State (BOS)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 194 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 60/60 40/45 50/50 90-94 / 95

A 21st-round pick in 2019, Spacke entered professional baseball as little more than an organizational ‘pen arm, but a successful 2021 showing at High-A Greenville, during which he ran a nearly 30% strikeout rate, made him a small dot on the prospect map. Spacke is an old-school sinker/slider reliever who works on the horizontal plane of the zone. Both his low-90s two-seamer and soft slider have considerable sweeping action and give right-handed hitters fits. Like many low-slot pitchers who depend on east/west movement, Spacke has some platoon issues and will need to continue to develop his changeup in an attempt to mitigate the problem. What Spacke lacks in terms of late-inning potential he makes with a high floor. He’ll get his first taste of the upper minors in 2022.

48. Wyatt Olds, SIRP

Drafted: 7th Round, 2021 from Oklahoma (BOS)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 183 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/60 30/40 92-95 / 96

The contrast between Olds’ perfect baseball build and his hideous delivery would be excessive even for Harvey Dent, and the well-built righty’s arm action is about as long as the new Batman movie. Otherwise, he is a very typical middle relief prospect with a rise-and-run fastball hovering in the 92-95 mph range, and a nasty, tilting slider.

49. Bryan Gonzalez, RF

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 50/60 25/55 40/30 35/45 45

Gonzalez is a huge, physical young hitter with a maxed out body (a scout’s Franmil Reyes comp is pretty apt), but he has big pop for someone his age. He’s a long-term, hit-over-power right field prospect who needs to really rake to be an everyday guy. The strikeout issues Gonzalez has exhibited in the low minors make his profile feel a little flimsier than it did last year, and he’s now in a “young power flier” area for us.

50. Luis Perales, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 18.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 168 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/55 30/45 20/40 95-97 / 98

Perales did not come stateside for 2020 instructs and only threw two innings in the ’21 DSL, but he has a lot of arm strength and fastball-enhancing traits, so the teenage righty remains in an area of great interest (but not imminent big league relevance) from our prospecting perspective. 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. He’s now up to 98 and has nascent curveball feel, enough that his early developmental focus is on finding a changeup grip. Perales’ frame lacks overt projection, so the upside is perhaps limited by that, but a bunch of velo has already come on.

51. Reidis Sena, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 20.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
55/60 40/50 20/35 94-97 / 98

Sena is pretty raw for a pitching prospect who will be 21 in 2022. He has huge arm strength, sitting 95 mph on the complex last year, and he makes very heavy use of that fastball. His slider has plus raw spin but Sena throws his heater 85% of the time right now, suggesting he and the Sox are just trying to get him to throw a viable rate of strikes more than anything else. He walked over five hitters per nine innings in 2021. If things click for him, he’ll move very quickly.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Enviable Bullpen Depth
Zach Bryant, RHP
Nathanael Cruz, RHP
Cody Scroggins, RHP
Joan Martinez, RHP
Hunter Dobbins, RHP
Matt Litwicki, RHP
Christopher Troye, RHP
Ryan Zeferjahn, RHP
Grant Gambrell, RHP

The org has built up a critical mass of pitching depth such that the meat of Boston’s bullpen (relievers 4-7 and the best couple of guys ready to come up from Worcester) is likely to come from within for the foreseeable future. This group is mostly comprised of guys with big arm strength but little else. Bryant, 23, has a 2023 big league horizon. He sits 93-95 mph, has been up to 98, and has two solid breaking balls. Cruz, 19, sat 93-96 and flashed some good changeups in the DSL but he’s pretty raw in every area that isn’t arm strength. Scroggins, a 2019 ninth rounder out of Arkansas, is a slider monster who sits 92-95 and has very poor control. Martinez, 25, also has two great pitches and arguably 20-grade command of his fastball, which is why he pitches backwards so often even though he sits about 96. Dobbins pitched well at Texas Tech in 2020, then didn’t throw at all in 2021, but he still signed as an undrafted free agent. In college he was capable of missing bats with both his curveball and changeup, but he didn’t throw very hard. Litwicki is the opposite, up to 99 at Indiana, but typically sitting 93-96 with an inconsistent slider. Troye was Santa Barbara’s closer in 2021. His fastball has huge carry but 30-grade velocity. Zeferjahn has been around a while now as a mid-90s sinker guy without a way to miss bats. Gambrell’s stuff has been up and down a lot since he was in college. At times he’s been 93-96 with a plus breaking ball, but in 2021 he was more 88-92.

Short-on-Stuff Depth Starter Types
Jedixson Paez, RHP
Jorge Rodriguez, LHP
Shane Drohan, LHP
Victor Santos, RHP
Luis De La Rosa, RHP

Paez sat 87 mph in the DSL last year but he’s projectable, has advanced command, and the shape of his secondary stuff is promising. Rodriguez and Drohan both have big-breaking, calling card breaking balls but 30-grade fastball velo. Drohan sat 90-94 at one point but it’s been a while since that were true. Santos is still just 21 even though it feels like he’s been around forever, and is still mixing a 90-91 mph sinker, parachute changeup and fringe slider together while throwing a ton of strikes and not missing bats. De La Rosa is still shy of 20 and was in the 35+ tier on last year’s list based on our backfield looks. He continued to sit 88-92 with a mix dependent on his advanced command rather than one that contains promising secondaries, though his changeup has looked good in the past.

Quad-A Sluggers
Hudson Potts, 3B
Freddy Valdez, LF
Albert Feliz, LF
Miguel Ugueto, RF
Antoni Flores, 3B

This group is full of big, strong, power-hitting corner guys with strikeout issues. Potts is on the 40-man and perhaps is aided by the looming universal DH, but the “young for his level” stuff doesn’t really apply anymore, and he just slugged under .400 for the first time. Valdez, Feliz, and Ugueto look like left tackle prospects in their sophomore years, and have about as much power. Flores was once a very exciting young prospect who quickly fell down the defensive spectrum.

Role-Player Ceilings
Lyonell James, OF
Grant Williams, 2B
Nathan Hickey, C
Fraymi De Leon, SS
Christian Koss, SS
Karson Simas, SS
Jeisson Rosario, CF
Tyler Miller, 1B

James is a projectable outfielder from the DSL who has pretty good feel for contact. He doesn’t really fit in this subgroup but we didn’t have anywhere else to put him. Williams had the lowest swinging strike rate in this system in 2021 and might be a contact-oriented reserve infielder. Hickey, just drafted out of Florida, is a bat-first catching prospect. De Leon is a small, switch-hitting shortstop with great actions. He signed for $1.2 million. Koss is in his mid-20s and looks like upper-level infield depth. Simas (Bill Simas‘ son) is a good athlete who can really play shortstop. Rosario has some interesting soft skills and is a 70 athlete but he’s never done anything from a statistical performance standpoint. Miller is a contact-oriented first base prospect who signed a smaller over-slot deal late in the draft and crushed pro ball in his first trial.

System Overview

When Dave Dombrowski headed up Baseball Ops for the Red Sox, his methods for building a winning big league ball club were neither subtle nor sustainable. He showed little hesitation dismantling the farm system in service of blockbuster trades specifically geared toward immediate results at the major league level, which he got. That approach resulted in a couple of championship parades, followed by epic, painful teardowns. The Chaim Bloom era kicked off with the painful Mookie Betts trade, the first of several moves aimed at rebuilding a teetering big league club and a sparse farm system, piece by piece. Bloom has bolstered Boston’s system by way of trade, picking up Alex Binelas, David Hamilton and Connor Seabold over the past two years, providing the system with considerable depth. Seventeen of the players on this list were originally signed or drafted by another org, and a few others from last year’s crop (like Garrett Whitlock) were, too.

The top of the system is occupied by first-round high school picks. The savant-like Triston Casas is almost ready, Nick Yorke has emerged as arguably the biggest surprise from the first round of the 2020 draft, and Marcelo Mayer fell into Boston’s lap. Yorke is the only one of the three indicative of Boston’s recent penchant for using draft room creativity as a way to add polished young hitters; Yorke, Blaze Jordan, Tyler Miller, and unlisted Daniel McElveny are recent examples of Boston’s pursuit of good young hit tools.

The echoes of Boston’s 2016 bonus packaging scandal are growing faint. As many of the upper-level prospects in this system get closer to graduation, the group of young international players who joined the org in 2017 and after will soon be the cornerstones of this system.

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1 year ago

Blaze Jordan … pretty good write up that’s mostly positive for a 40+ guy. I like that the optimism is kept intact in case he continues to figure things out this year.

1 year ago
Reply to  LightenUpFG

His approach might leave something to be desired, but he is still pretty young.