On Wednesday night, MLB.com’s Jim Callis identified Miguel Bleis as the Red Sox’ best international prospect since Rafael Devers.
Bleis, 18, originally signed with the Red Sox for $1.5 million (the same amount Devers received in 2013) as a highly-touted international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in January 2021. After making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League last year, the San Pedro de Macoris native made the jump to the Florida Complex League this summer.
In 40 games with Boston’s rookie-level, Fort Myers-based affiliate, the right-handed hitting outfielder batted .301/.353/.543 with 14 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 27 RBIs, 28 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 10 walks, and 45 strikeouts over 167 plate appearances.
Among qualified FCL hitters this season, Bleis ranked seventh in batting average, 24th in on-base percentage, third in slugging percentage, fourth in OPS (.896), 12th in line-drive rate (22.3 percent) second in isolated power (.242), tied for first in speed score (9.3), and sixth in wRC+ (142), per FanGraphs.
While he was undoubtedly one of the top hitters in the lower minors this year, Bleis did struggle a bit when it came to plate discipline, as noted by Callis. In simpler terms, he only walked six percent of the time while striking out at 26.9 percent clip. He also posted the ninth-highest swinging-strike rate (33.8 percent) in the FCL.
Defensively, Bleis saw the majority of his playing time this season come in center field. The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder logged 310 1/3 innings in center and just five innings in right while recording a team-high five outfield assists.
Taking that statistic into consideration, Callis adds that Bleis should be able to stick in center on account of his arm strength. If not, he has the offensive upside and defensive profile to shift over to right.
As the 2022 FCL season drew to a close in August, the Red Sox began promoting several of their younger prospects — such as Mikey Romero and Roman Anthony — to Low-A Salem. Bleis very well could have been part of that group, but the club opted to have him stay in Fort Myers since he was dealing with some back soreness.
Back in September, Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings that had Bleis been healthy, he would have joined Anthony, Romero, and the like in Salem for the remainder of the minor-league campaign.
“He certainly would have been with that group (that was promoted to Salem),” Abraham said. “We let him know that he would have been with that group. But I think being healthy going into the offseason was the primary concern. So, he stayed in Fort Myers and made sure we got that (back issue) right and then we sent him home. There’s no doubt he had earned a promotion to Salem if not at the end of the year, earlier. He is aware of that.”
Bleis, who turns 19 in March, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He has yet to crack the publication’s top 100 list, but that could happen sooner rather than later.
Considering what Abraham already told Jennings, it seems likely that Bleis will kick off his first full professional season in Salem next spring. After all, his potential is through the roof and he has the tools to back it up.
“He has five tools. That’s the reality,” said Abraham. “You don’t see that too often. What those five tools will ultimately (become), how they will pan out, not sure. But in terms of the tools, and in terms of the ability to impact the game in various ways, he does that.
“I think whenever you have a player who does those types of things, he’s someone you want to pay attention to and watch,” added Abraham. “Whether he’s on the bases, whether he’s in the field, whether he’s in the batter’s box, you know something special is going to happen, and I think that’s something he showed during his short time in the states.”
(Picture of Miguel Bleis: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)