One day before the Red Sox took on Northeastern in their spring opener at JetBlue Park on Friday, three of the organization’s top prospects were in the spotlight on the back fields of the Fenway South Complex in Fort Myers.
As highlighted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, infielder Marcelo Mayer was joined by outfielders Miguel Bleis and Roman Anthony behind an L-screen while waiting to jump into the box for live batting practice as part of a minor-league mini-camp on Thursay.
Mayer, 20, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system. Bleis — who turns 19 on Wednesday — and Anthony — who turns 19 in May — come in at No. 5 and No. 9, respectively. Both Mayer (No. 10) and Bleis (No. 88) are included in the publication’s top 100 prospects list as well.
Of the three, Mayer has the most professional experience. The left-handed hitting shortstop split the 2022 season between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville and batted .280/.399/.489 with 30 doubles, 13 home runs, 53 RBIs, 61 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases over 91 games and 424 plate appearances. He is arguably the top hitting prospect in the system and is expected to return to Greenville for the start of the 2023 campaign.
Bleis, who has been tabbed as Boston’s best international prospect since Rafael Devers, is in a similar position to where Mayer was at this time last year since he is preparing to make the jump to full-season ball in 2023. The right-handed hitter out of the Dominican Republic enjoyed an all-around great year in the Florida Complex League by slashing .301/.353/.543 with 14 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 27 RBIs, 28 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases in 40 games (167 plate appearances) for the FCL Red Sox. He consistently made hard contact and would have received a late-season promotion to Salem were it not for a minor back injury.
Anthony was who the Red Sox selected with the 79th overall pick in last year’s draft. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, Fla.) product signed with the club for $2.5 million. He showed flashes of his potential in the Florida Complex League by hitting .429/.475/.486 in 10 games before slowing down in Salem (.189/.279/.243 line in 10 more games) to close out his debut season. Like Bleis, Anthony is expected to be in Salem’s everyday outfield mix to start the year.
“The trio represents part of an impressive group of young players who have a chance to transform the big-league roster a few years down the road,” Speier wrote of Mayer, Bleis, and Anthony. “The most noteworthy part of the afternoon was not what the players did on the field in a practice setting but how they interacted with each other.”
Mayer, a native of Southern California, is bilingual (his mother is from Mexico). As such, he has the ability to engage and connect with both English- and Spanish-speaking teammates. It also helps that he has been described by Red Sox officials and players as “a natural leader.”
On Thursday, Mayer put his fluency in the two languages on full display. According to Speier, he “happily pinballed between Anthony and a small group of English-speaking teammates and Bleis and other Spanish-speaking teammates, breaking down pitch types in English in one moment and then playfully turning around to take some righthanded dry swings (Mayer is a left-handed hitter) while coaxing Bleis (a right-handed hitter) to show off his left-handed hacks.”
It may not carry much significance at present, but as noted by Speier, these kinds of interactions offer a glimpse of what the next homegrown core for the Red Sox could look like in the not-so-distant future.
(Picture of Marcelo Mayer: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)