The Red Sox minor-leaguer who led the organization in batting average last year was Nick Yorke, who hit a whopping .325 on the season between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville.
On the heels of such an impressive year, Yorke has been recognized as one of the best prospects in Boston’s farm system if not all of baseball. The same cannot be said for the player who finished just behind Yorke in the organizational batting race.
Alex Zapete, a Dominican-born infielder, spent the entirety of the 2021 campaign playing in his home island and was among the top hitters in the Dominican Summer League.
Across 52 games for the Red Sox Blue DSL affiliate, Zapete slashed .314/.424/.415 to go along with 10 doubles, two home runs, 23 RBIs, 37 runs scored, six stolen bases, 30 walks, and 30 strikeouts over 198 total plate appearances.
Among those in the DSL who made at least 190 trips to the plate last year, the right-handed hitter ranked 13th in batting average, 10th in on-base percentage, 29th in slugging percentage, 17th in OPS (.839), 18th in wRC+ (140), 26th in walk rate (15.2%), and 31st in strikeout rate (15.2%), per FanGraphs.
Defensively, Zapete spent almost as much time at third base as he did first base, as he logged 303 innings at the hot corner and 302 1/3 innings on the opposite side.
Upon signing with the Red Sox for just $45,000 as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in July 2018, Zapete was viewed more so as a third baseman who could play a little bit of first base as well.
Last season, however, the 6-foot, 180 pounder made his professional debut as a catcher. He caught one game (and all nine innings) against the DSL Dodgers Shoemaker affiliate on August 3 and threw out one of the four base runners who attempted to steal against him.
While Zapete did not see any additional time behind the plate beyond that contest, Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email that the Gaspar Hernandez native is indeed “working on becoming a catcher.”
Zapete, who turned 20 in September, was on the older side for position players who saw action in the Dominican Summer League last year. He also spent the 2019 campaign in the Dominican and earned DSL All-Star honors.
The 2020 minor-league season may have been wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Zapete certainly made the most of his opportunity in 2021 and — as Romero put it — “had a great year.”
On that note, Romero says that Zapete is slated to start the 2022 season in the rookie-level Florida Complex League. He can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career later this year, though it seems unlikely that will affect him considering he is still a ways away from the upper minors.
(Picture of Alex Zapete via his Instagram)