Red Sox’ Alex Cora likes what he has seen from prospects Enmanuel Valdez and Wilyer Abreu in spring training

Enmanuel Valdez will bat eighth and get the start at second base when the Red Sox take on Northeastern in their first spring training game at JetBlue Park on Friday afternoon.

Boston acquired Valdez and outfield prospect Wilyer Abreu from the Astros in exchange for catcher Christian Vazquez last August. Both players were added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster back in November.

Valdez is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 19 prospect in Boston’s farm system. Abreu, on the other hand, is ranked 22nd. The pair are both attending their first big-league camp and have had the chance to make an impression on Red Sox manager Alex Cora since arriving in Fort Myers, Fla. earlier this month.

“He can hit,” Cora said of Valdez when speaking with reporters (including’s Christopher Smith) at the Fenway South complex on Thursday. “This kid, he can hit. He controls the strike zone. He can hit. So we’ll try to help him defensively. More comfortable at second than other places. Both of them, Abreu and Valdez, they control the strike zone. They do damage in the strike zone. I’m excited to see them.”

Cora added that Valdez and Abreu will both be in the starting lineup when the Red Sox travel to West Palm Beach and go up against the Astros in Grapefruit League play next Wednesday.

Valdez, 24, batted .296/.376/.542 with 35 doubles, two triples, 28 home runs, 107 RBIs, 92 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 64 walks, and 124 strikeouts in 126 games (573 plate appearances) between Double-A and Triple-A last year. After getting traded over the summer, the left-handed hitter slashed .237/.309/.422 with nine doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 30 RBIs, 26 runs scored, three stolen bases, 19 walks, and 48 strikeouts in 44 games (195 plate appearances) with Triple-A Worcester.

Defensively, Valdez saw playing time at five different positions last season. With the WooSox alone, the 5-foot-9, 191-pounder out of the Dominican Republic logged 330 innings at second base, 24 innings at third base, and 25 innings in left field.

“He can [play outfield],” said Cora. “But I think here, we’ll move him around in the infield.”

Valdez, meanwhile, spent the entirety of the 2022 campaign at Double-A, batting .247/.399/.459 with 29 doubles, 19 home runs, 73 RBIs, 106 runs scored, 31 stolen bases, 114 walks, and 153 strikeouts over 129 total games (579 plate appearances). Upon switching organizations for the first time in his career, the left-handed hitting Venezuelan posted a .242/.399/.375 slash line with five doubles, four homers, 19 RBIs, 25 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 36 walks, and 45 strikeouts in 40 games (168 plate appearances) for Double-A Portland.

On the other side of the ball, Abreu made starts at all three outfield spots last year. With the Sea Dogs specifically, the 6-foot, 217-pounder logged 141 innings in left, 121 innings in center, and 73 innings in right while registering one outfield assist.

“I think we really got a guy who’s an incredible defender,” Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said of Abreu in a separate conversation with Smith. “Probably at times undersold in a lot of ways. He can play center field. He has a plus arm and moves really well. Not really fast but a really good first step and can move really quick in the outfield. All-around player that we’re really excited to have.”

(Picture of Enmanuel Valdez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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