Prospect Report: Red Sox 2023 Imminent Big Leaguers
Below is an evaluation of the prospects in the Boston Red Sox farm system who readers should consider “imminent big leaguers,” players who might reasonably be expected to play in the majors at some point this year. This includes all prospects on the 40-man roster as well as those who have already established themselves in the upper levels of the minors but aren’t yet rostered. I tend to be more inclusive with pitchers and players at premium positions since their timelines are usually the ones accelerated by injuries and scarcity. Any Top 100 prospects, regardless of their ETA, are also included on this list. Reports, tool grades, and scouting information for all of the prospects below can also be found on The Board.
This is not a top-to-bottom evaluation of the Red Sox farm system. I like to include what’s happening in minor league and extended spring training in my reports as much as possible, since scouting high concentrations of players in Arizona and Florida allows me to incorporate real-time, first-person information into the org lists. However, this approach has led to some situations where outdated analysis (or no analysis at all) was all that existed for players who had already debuted in the majors. Skimming the imminent big leaguers off the top of a farm system will allow this time-sensitive information to make its way onto the site more quickly, better preparing readers for the upcoming season, helping fantasy players as they draft, and building site literature on relevant prospects to facilitate transaction analysis in the event that trades or injuries foist these players into major league roles. There will still be a Red Sox prospect list that includes Mikey Romero, Eddinson Paulino, Wikelman Gonzalez and all of the other prospects in the system who appear to be at least another season away. As such, today’s list includes no ordinal rankings. Readers are instead encouraged to focus on the players’ Future Value (FV) grades.
Let’s revisit what FV means before I offer some specific thoughts on this org. Future Value (FV) is a subjective valuation metric derived from the traditional 20-80 scouting scale (where 50 is average and each integer of 10 away from 50 represents one standard deviation) that uses WAR production to set the scale. For instance, an average regular (meaning the 15th-best guy at a given position, give or take) generally produces about 2 WAR annually, so a 50 FV prospect projects as an everyday player who will generate about that much annual WAR during his pre-free agency big league seasons.
Why not just use projected WAR as the valuation metric, then? For one, it creates a false sense of precision. This isn’t a model. While a lot of data goes into my decision-making process, a lot of subjectivity does too, in the form of my own visual evaluations, as well as other information related to the players’ careers and baseball backgrounds. A player can have a strong evaluation (emphasis on the “e”) but might be a great distance from the big leagues, or could be injury prone, or a superlative athlete, and context like that might cause one to augment the player’s valuation (no “e”). Using something more subjective like Future Value allows me to dial up and down how I’m interpreting that context.
There are also many valuable part-time players who can only generate so much WAR due to their lack of playing time. As such, FV grades below 50 tend to describe a role more than they do a particular WAR output; you can glean the projected roles from the players’ reports. In short, anyone who is a 40+ FV player or above projects as an integral big league role player or better.
Now some Red Sox thoughts. Boston has added to the big league club like someone sifting through the $6 DVD bin at the new and used record store. Masataka Yoshida is a Criterion Blu-ray, but the rest of the offseason additions from the past couple years tend to be older guys coming off a tough stretch, usually players who have had hit tool-driven success throughout their careers. That includes Justin Turner, Rob Refsnyder, Raimel Tapia, Christian Arroyo, and a few power-first guys like Jorge Alfaro and Adam Duvall. I think the hit rate on players like this tends to be pretty good (Refsnyder and Arroyo’s 2022 seasons are good examples), but the Fenway Sports Group doesn’t have to build like this and could stand to open the wallet more often. Chaim Bloom’s farm-building strategy in Tampa Bay has carried over to Boston, where he’s often getting multiple pieces back in trades to try to create a huge swell of prospects, which is good for creating the pitching depth teams need to deal with injuries, allows you to trade prospects for big leaguers when the time is right without having a barren system afterwards, and protects from the inevitability of prospect busts and entropy. Boston also loves a Player to Be Named Later lately, most recently getting Angel Pierre from Kansas City after just a little backfield activity in Arizona. Some of the ways Bloom has touched the system are starting to arrive in the form of Valdez, Abreu, Broadway, and hopefully soon Yorke.
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.
This was a nice surprise write up for this Sox fan. I can’t help but feel that Chaim Bloom personally called Eric and said hey, the fanbase is getting really antsy, can you help me sell the idea that something is “going to be awesome” soon? Like, this year?
Haha, wow, lot of sensitive people here. Obviously Bloom isn’t calling Eric, but given the talk these days, I couldn’t resist commenting on the timing. Relax, downvoters. Don’t take yourselves so seriously.