Red Sox prospect Christian Koss turning heads with his defense this spring: ‘He’s a good one,’ Alex Cora says

Red Sox infield prospect Christian Koss picked up his first hit of the spring in Wednesday’s Grapefruit League win over the Rays at JetBlue Park.

After replacing Bobby Dalbec at shortstop in the top half of the seventh, Koss made his one and only plate appearance of the afternoon count in the latter half of the seventh.

With one out and the bases loaded, Koss worked a 2-2 count against Rays reliever Anthony Molina before ripping a groundball single through the right side of the infield. Both Daniel Palka and Matthew Lugo scored on the play to give the Red Sox a 9-1 lead, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

Koss broke out of an 0-for-10 rut to begin his spring and is now batting .091 in eight Grapefruit League games. More importantly, however, is the defense the 25-year-old has provided around the spring.

On Wednesday, for instance, Koss showed off his athleticism by robbing Gavin Collins of a potential base hit in the eighth inning. The 6-foot-1, 182-pounder laid out to his right to corral a sharply-hit grounder. He then quickly got back to his feet and made an accurate throw across the diamond in plenty of time to record the out at first base.

As was recently highlighted by The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams, Koss has been turning heads at Red Sox camp thanks to his defensive prowess at short. Though he was a late arrival in Fort Myers due to the birth of his first child, Koss has impressed with his range and arm strength.

“He loves to play the game,” manager Alex Cora said of Koss last week. “He’s made some great plays at shortstop, very athletic, versatile. He’s a good one.”

Koss is entering his third season in the Red Sox organization after originally being acquired from the Rockies in December 2020. The right-handed hitter is coming off a 2022 campaign in which he batted .260/.309/.430 with 22 doubles, five triples, 17 home runs, 84 RBIs, 69 runs scored, 16 stolen bases, 25 walks, and 137 strikeouts in 125 games (532 plate appearances) for Double-A Portland. He also saw playing time at five different positions (second base, third base, shortstop, left field, and right field) and was named the Sea Dogs’ Most Valuable Player.

The Red Sox could have added Koss to their 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft but they elected not to. Koss, in turn, spent part of his winter in Puerto Rico playing for the Criollos de Caguas, where he logged innings at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, and left field over the course of 29 games.

According to Cora, the Red Sox view Koss as one of the best defenders in not only their system, but the entire minor-leagues as a whole. That can be attributed to Koss’ baseball IQ, which he first developed as an undersized high schooler and continued to work on during his three years at UC Irvine.

“A lot of my stuff goes into the mental side of it,” Koss told McWilliams. “So a lot of anticipation, a lot of game prep, stuff like that. As far as the defensive aspect, I think a lot of it has to do with positioning, where coaches put me. But it’s a lot of anticipation and just getting good jumps on balls.

“Being that small kind of player, that’s where I had to stand out,” he added. “I had to know more about the game, about the situation.”

Koss, who just turned 25 in January, is currently regarded by as the No. 33 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is projected to start the 2023 season with Triple-A Worcester and, as things stand now, is one of just 12 non-roster invitees remaining at big-league camp.

As he prepares to make the jump to Double-A to Triple-A, Koss is looking to refine his plate discipline after watching his walk rate (6.6 to 4.7 percent) drop and his strikeout rate (21.4 to 25.8 percent) last year.

“I think last year I just caught myself edging on the shadow with the pitcher more, and it gave them more power to get me to chase off the plate,” said Koss. “A lot of the spring is just trying to dial it back in over the plate and get good swings off.”


Author: Brendan Campbell

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: