Eddinson Paulino was among the Red Sox’ top performers in the Florida Complex League last year. He showed why that was no fluke as he made the transition to full-season ball in 2022.
Coming out of minor-league spring training, Paulino was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 28 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He then broke camp and spent the entirety of the campaign at Low-A Salem.
In 114 games with the Salem Red Sox, the versatile left-handed hitter batted .266/.359/.469 with 35 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs, 66 RBIs, 96 runs scored, 27 stolen bases, 64 walks, and 105 strikeouts over 539 plate appearances.
When the All-Star break arrived in mid-July, Paulino was hitting just .239/.327/.451 through his first 80 games. From July 22 onward, though, the 20-year-old slashed a stout .331/.432/.559 with 18 extra-base hits in his final 34 games of the season.
Among 51 qualified Carolina League hitters, Paulino ranked 24th in walk rate (11.9 percent), 14th in strikeout rate (19.5 percent), 14th in swinging-strike rate (11.2 percent), fourth in line-drive rate (25.6 percent), 14th in batting average, 17th in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage, fifth in OPS (.827), fifth in isolated power (.203), fifth in speed score (8.5), and fifth in wRC+ (128), per FanGraphs.
“He can impact the game in several ways,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith in September. “He can launch one if needed. He’s just become a good hitter.”
Defensively, Paulino made appearances at five different positions (not including designated hitter) for Salem this season. The 5-foot, 155-pounder logged 301 innings at shortstop, 289 innings at third base, 243 2/3 innings at second base, 98 1/3 innings in center field, and eight innings in left. Both of his outfield assists came in center.
“Just to have that skillset being a left-handed hitter,” said Romero.
The Red Sox originally signed Paulino for $205,000 as an international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2018. The Santiago native made his professional debut in his home country the following summer but his career was put on hold in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It now turns out that Paulino likely took advantage of the lost 2020 minor-league season by honing his craft in his own way. Whether it be his ability to make hard contact or steal bases at a high rate, the Red Sox were pleased with what they saw from Paulino this year.
“We’ve always liked his hitting ability,” Romero said. “He hits the ball hard in all quadrants. He’s another guy who jumps on fastballs but I think has really increased his recognition skills. He’s made a big jump in that. He’s got a good number of walks. The on-base percentage is good.
“And also the speed element of the game,” he added. “He’s got 26, 27 stolen bases. All that makes him a very dynamic player. … Another player who it’s been really cool to see his development.”
Paulino, who does not turn 21 until next July, is now regarded by Baseball America as the 18th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is Rule 5-eligible this winter, but is not a sure bet to receive protection by being added to the 40-man roster later this month.
While the tools and talent are certainly there, Paulino has yet to play above A-ball. And so the Red Sox may elect to protect prospects who have already reached the upper levels of the minor-leagues like Ceddanne Rafaela, Christian Koss, Enmanuel Valdez, Wilyer Abreu, Brandon Walter, and Thad Ward, among others.
Assuming that Paulino remains in the organization through the winter, he is projected to make the jump to High-A Greenville at the start of the 2023 minor-league season in April.
(Picture of Eddinson Paulino: Robert Simmons/RTS Photography)