Ranking the top 37 prospects in the Red Sox farm system heading into the 2021 season

The Red Sox are heading into the 2021 season with the 20th-ranked farm system in baseball according to Baseball America. That’s the same ranking they received going into the 2020 campaign as well.

Despite finishing with the fourth-worst record in baseball last year at 24-36, the 2020 season did net some positives for the Sox in terms of producing new, young, and controllable talent.

Just in terms of prospects, Boston acquired the likes of right-hander Connor Seabold from the Phillies, right-hander Jacob Wallace from the Rockies, and infielder Hudson Potts and outfielder Jeisson Rosario from the Padres.

They also drafted infielders Nick Yorke and Blaze Jordan and righties Shane Drohan and Jeremy Wu-Yelland with their four picks in last year’s amateur draft.

From the time the 2021 season ended until now, the Sox have added the likes of catcher Ronaldo Hernandez, infielders Christian Koss and Nick Sogard, right-handers Garrett Whitlock, Frank German, Josh Winckowski, and Zach Bryant.

To put it simply, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has not only addressed his club’s depth at the major-league level; he’s done it on the minor-league side of things as well.

Taking that point into consideration, it would not be too shocking to see Boston rise through the farm system rankings this year, especially with someone like Yorke getting to play in actual, organized minor-league games at some point.

Having written all that, I would like to present to you who the experts believe are the top prospects in the Red Sox organization at the moment.

To compile this list of Boston’s brightest and youngest talent, I took prospect lists from four baseball or Red Sox-centered publications — Baseball America, SoxProspects.com, FanGraphs, MLB Pipeline — and took the averages of where each of these sites had particular prospects ranked.

For example, Triston Casas was regarded as the Sox’ top prospect by three sites, but the other had him as their No. 2 prospect in the system.

With those numbers in mind, I added 1+1+1+2 to get 5, then divided that number by the total number of sources (4) to get Casas’ average ranking: 1.25, which rounds down to 1.

I hope that makes sense, because here are the top 37 prospects in the Red Sox farm system based off that math heading into the 2021 season.

ProspectBaseball AmericaSoxProspectsFanGraphsMLB PipelineAverage Rank
Triston Casas11211
Jeter Downs22122
Bryan Mata43353
Jarren Duran54744
Bobby Dalbec36935
Gilberto Jimenez75466
Tanner Houck87677
Jay Groome6121288
Thaddeus Ward10813109
Noah Song121151410
Connor Seabold11981511
Nick Yorke91315912
Ronaldo HernandezN/A14N/A1213
Brainer Bonaci1815171614
Aldo Ramirez2210142015
Blaze Jordan1620211116
Matthew Lugo1417281317
Brayan Bello1923111918
Connor Wong1522191719
Jeisson Rosario2016162220
Hudson Potts2418182421
Eduard Bazardo2827102822
Chris Murphy1319431823
Jonathan Arauz2126N/AN/A24
Nick Decker2921242325
Jacob Wallace2524262926
Frank GermanN/A2825N/A27
Garrett Whitlock 1732303028
Chih-Jung Liu2334332129
Durbin FeltmanN/A3031N/A30
Cameron CannonN/A43232631
Ryan ZeferjahnN/A2538N/A32
Jorge RodriguezN/A2934N/A33
Juan ChaconN/A52222534
A.J. Politi2749372735
Ceddanne Rafaela2645N/AN/A36
Jeremy Wu-Yelland30N/A47N/A37
*The N/A you see next to some of these names means that that particular prospect was not included on a specific site’s list.

All in all, it’s not too shocking to see Casas, Jeter Downs, Bryan Mata, Jarren Duran, and Bobby Dalbec come in as the Red Sox’ top five prospects, though Dalbec is surely going to graduate from his prospect status this year.

The same can be said about right-hander Tanner Houck, who comes in at No. 7 on this list.

Other names worth mentioning include outfielder Gilberto Jimenez (No. 6), right-hander Noah Song (No. 10), infielder Brainer Bonaci (No. 14), catcher Connor Wong (No. 19), right-hander Eduard Bazardo (No. 22), right-hander Chih-Jung Liu (No. 29), and outfielder Juan Chacon (No. 34).

One notable snub on here would be 17-year-old outfielder Miguel Bleis, who the Red Sox recently signed out of the Dominican Republic for $1.5 million back in January.

Because I made this list myself, I cannot say with certainty that it is perfect. But, I enjoyed compiling the information to create it, and I hope it can serve as some use to those who find this sort of thing interesting.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Red Sox minor-league coach Chris Hess joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by one of the Red Sox’ newest minor-league coaches in Chris Hess.

Among the topics Hess and I discussed were his college career at the University of Rhode Island, how he found out he got drafted in 2017, his professional career with the Yankees, what led him to join the Red Sox as a minor-league coach, what it will be like to work with Bianca Smith, and much more.

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Chris for taking some time out of his Thursday night to have a conversation with me. You can check out his 401 Elite Baseball Training program by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Chris Hess: Rhody Rampage)

Red Sox promote Ben Crockett to senior vice president of baseball operations, Brian Abraham to director of player development in slew of personnel moves

The Red Sox announced several major- and minor-league personnel moves on Friday afternoon, highlighted by Ben Crockett being promoted to the club’s senior vice president of baseball operations and Brian Abraham being promoted to the club’s director of player development.

Crockett, 41, previously served as Boston’s vice president of player development from 2016-2020 and has been with the organization since 2007 after interning in their baseball operations department.

His promotion to SVP of baseball ops. comes a few weeks after longtime Red Sox executive Zack Scott left the organization to become assistant general manager of the New York Mets.

Scott has since been named New York’s acting general manager after the club fired Jared Porter on January 19 for harassing a female reporter in 2016.

Crockett, a Topsfield, Mass. native, played college baseball at Harvard University, and emerged as a legitimate right-handed pitching prospect there as evidenced by him getting drafted twice.

The first time around, Crockett — a junior — was selected by the Red Sox in the 10th round of the 2001 amateur draft. He did not sign with his hometown team.

The second time around, Crockett — now a senior — was selected by the Rockies in the third round of the 2002 amateur draft. He went on to sign with Colorado and spend five years in their minor-league system.

Since calling it a playing career, Crockett has undertaken a variety of roles within the Red Sox’ scouting and player development machine. From 2008-2009, he served as an advance scouting coordinator; from 2010-2011, he served as assistant director of player development; and from 2012-2016, he served as director of player development.

That role has now been taken over by Abraham, who, like Crockett, attended a local school in the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.

The 36-year-old was born and raised in Worcester, too, and he got his start in professional baseball by spending six years in the Blue Jays’ organization “primarily working in advance scouting and video operations” from 2007-2012.

With Boston, Abraham has worked as a major-league staff assistant (2013-2014), assistant director of player development (2015-2018), and most recently director of minor-league operations (2018-2020).

In addition to the promotions of Crockett and Abraham, the Red Sox also announced that Chris Stasio has been promoted to the role of manager of baseball development, Shawn Haviland has been promoted to the role of senior pitching coordinator, Kirby Retzer has been promoted to the role of assistant strength and conditioning coordinator, Paddy Steinfort has been promoted to the role of senior mental skills coordinator and Adan Severino has been promoted to the role of Latin American mental skills coordinator.

In terms of new additions, Harry Roberson has been hired as the club’s coordinator of player development, Julio Rangel has been hired as the club’s performance pitching coordinator, and Gabriela Alfonso has been hired as the organization’s minor-league sports dietician.

Minor-league coaching staffs finalized:

The Red Sox’ pipeline of minor-league affiliates will be without the Lowell Spinners for this coming season, while Worcester is now the new home of the club’s Triple-A affiliate and the teams in Greenville, SC. and Salem, Va. have essentially switched places.

With that, here is how each affiliate’s coaching staff will stack up to start the new season:

Triple-A Worcester Red Sox
Manager: Billy McMillon
Additional Coach: Bruce Crabbe
Pitching Coach: Paul Abbott
Hitting Coach: Rich Gedman

Double-A Portland Sea Dogs
Manager: Corey Wimberly
Additional Coach: Ako Thomas
Pitching Coach: Lance Carter
Hitting Coach: Lance Zawadzki

High-A Greenville Drive
Manager: Iggy Suarez
Additional Coach: John Shelby III
Pitching Coach: Bob Kipper
Hitting Coach: Nate Spears

Low-A Salem Red Sox
Manager: Luke Montz
Additional Coach: Frankie Rios
Pitching Coach: Nick Green
Hitting Coach: Nelson Paulino

Fort Myers Complex
Manager: Tom Kotchman
Additional Coaches: Mickey Jiang, Bianca Smith, Chris Hess
Pitching Coaches: Dick Such, Brett Merritt, Jason Blanton
Hitting Coaches: Josh Prince, Junior Zamora

Dominican Republic Academy
Latin American Field Coordinator: Jose Zapata
Managers: Ozzie Chavez, Sandy Madera
Additional Coaches: Juan Hernandez, Claudio Sanchez, Carlos Vallejo, Leonel Vazquez
International Instructor: Amaury Garcia
Pitching Coaches: Oscar Lira, Humberto Sanchez
Hitting Coaches: Eider Torres, Danny Ortega

For more information on the Red Sox’ minor-league coaching staffs, check out this press release from the team.

(Picture of Red Sox logo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Fall instructs allowed Red Sox prospect Chih-Jung Liu to get ‘into more of a professional routine,’ Ben Crockett says

Chih-Jung Liu’s first exposure to professional baseball in the United States has been hindered by unprecedented circumstances.

The 21-year-old right-handed pitching prospect was originally signed by the Red Sox out of Taiwan for $750,000 last October, and the 2020 season was supposed to serve as his springboard into the organization

Instead, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused plans to change in a variety of ways, as Liu had to quarantine in his Fort Myers hotel room upon arriving from Taipei for spring training in late February.

While the pandemic continued to roll on in the United States as the calendars flipped to March, Major League Baseball was eventually forced to shut down all spring training camps on March 12.

With the majority of players returning to their homes as a result of that decision, Liu, too, decided to go back to Taiwan so he could work out in a familiar environment given all the uncertainties the U.S. was facing at that time.

Liu would remain in his home country until late September, when he made the trek back to Florida after receiving an invitation to participate in the Red Sox’ fall instructional league.

Once fall instructs began the following week, the Red Sox finally had the chance to see what exactly Liu brought to the table over an extended period of time.

Based off what vice president of player development Ben Crockett told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings, the club was quite impressed with what they saw from the right-hander.

“He was in spring training for such a short period of time,” Crockett said of Liu. “[It was] great to actually see him. [He was] really interesting. Showed good stuff. Good fastball with carry. Showed pitch-ability. Showed an ability to use multiple pitches that will ultimately help him. It was definitely nice to kind of get him into more of a professional routine.”

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 18 prospect, the 6-foot, 180 lb. hurler operates with a three-pitch mix that includes a 92-96 mph that can top out at 98 mph, an 86-88 mph slider, and a low-80s changeup “with some fade,” per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Because so little has been seen of him to this point, it’s difficult to project what Lui’s 2021 season will look like in terms of which minor-league level he starts at.

Wherever he does start out next spring, Liu does figure to work as a starting pitcher for the time being despite the fact he was a two-way player in high school and excelled as a switch-hitting infielder in college while taking a two-year break from pitching.

(Top photo of Liu: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox Top Prospect Jarren Duran ‘Definitely’ Making Developmental Strides in Pawtucket, Ben Crockett Says

Jarren Duran has been a professional baseball player for just over two years, and in that rather brief period of time has emerged as one of the top outfield prospects in the Red Sox farm system.

Coming off his first full minor-league season in which he slashed .303/.367/.408 with 212 total bases, 90 runs scored and 46 stolen bases in 132 games between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2019, the California native received an invite to major-league spring training earlier this year and impressed there as well.

When the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced major-league clubs to shut down their spring training facilities in March and Minor League Baseball to cancel its season altogether in June, one may have thought prospects like Duran may have lost a step in the development process.

That did not happen, however, as the soon-to-be 24-year-old picked up where he left off in Fort Myers by showing out even more at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket.

When speaking with reporters via Zoom on Monday, Red Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett acknowledged just how exciting Duran has been to watch over the last month-plus.

“Jarren’s made great progress,” Crockett said. “One of the reasons we wanted to bring him in here is because he’s a guy we obviously thought really highly of from the get-go. He made fast progress to get to Double-A in his first full season. And then in the offseason, he undertook a swing change, I think, to make him even better. What we saw in spring training 1.0 was really encouraging and showed great progress. For us, it was important for us to continue to see that and to continue to help him take those strides forward. I think he’s definitely done that.”

Duran himself addressed the changes he made during this past offseason and when speaking to reporters last Friday.

“Working on my swing with Lance everyday here, Lance Zawadzki, and I worked with Doug Latta a little bit,” the outfielder said via a Zoom call. “Just my swing path and cleaning things up, making things much simpler than they used to be, and just having a simple approach. I kind of owe it to those guys because I come here everyday and I grind it out with Lance everyday. Everyday’s a struggle to find your swing. You can go home, not play baseball for a day, and it feels like you haven’t swung in two weeks.”

On his new-and-improved swing path that has resulted in somewhat of a power surge in Pawtucket, Duran attributed that to just how direct his approach at the plate is now.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say lowering my hands,” the Long Beach State product added. “I would just say I have a better path. I have more of a line to the ball and extension through the ball and I’m not coming through the zone and getting outs super quickly. I think lowering my hands helps because my hands always come up. If I can keep them low, they’re just naturally going to come up for me. But, I think just keeping a direct path has really been my success.”

As Duran mentions, making a change that disrupts old habits or routines can be extremely frustrating, but given how much improvement the 2018 seventh-round draft pick has shown this year in light of those changes, it may very well be a sign that there are even more encouraging things to come. Crockett brought this point up, or at least the opening part of it, on Monday.

“Anytime you’re doing something that’s a little bit new or different than what you were doing in the past, it takes a number of reps to get that ingrained, to become natural,” he said. But, I think anything from a mechanical standpoint, it certainly comes down to reps and refining it and continuing to really hone in on exactly what’s going to be the right fit for the individual.”

With the help of Zawadzki, a former minor-leaguer-turned-assistant hitting coach for the Portland Sea Dogs out of Framingham, and Latta, a renowned hitting instructor based in southern California, Duran may have unlocked some potential that could make him an even better prospect than he already was.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is certainly impressed with what Duran has to offer, saying last Wednesday that “he’s spent a lot of time working on his body from a physical standpoint and that’s looked great.”

All that being said, don’t expect a major-league call-up for Duran anytime soon even though outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar are both on expiring contracts. For one, Duran is not on Boston’s 40-man roster, which is not too huge of a deal but is still a factor nonetheless.

Secondly, as Bloom puts it, “one of the worst things you can do, especially if you’re doing it because you’re unsatisfied with the on-field product at the big-league level or you want to get a jolt…sometimes the worst thing you can do is take shortcuts in a player’s development. That can lead to short-term results that are not which you want and it can also lead to long-term difficulties.”

Red Sox Prospect Chih-Jung Liu Being Quarantined Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Red Sox Taiwanese pitching prospect Chih-Jung Liu is being quarantined in a hotel room by the team, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

Per Abraham, Liu departed Taipei on a flight to San Francisco last week, where he, along with all international travelers, was screened for the virus.

Arriving in Fort Myers with the hopes of being ready for minor-league camp, the 20-year-old right-hander is instead “being quarantined in a hotel room by the Sox to guard against the coronavirus.”

The most recent reports from the Centers of Disease Control state that there have been 31 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Taiwan, and according to a team spokesman, the Red Sox are using “an over abundance of caution” with this international issue, as they also quarantined Taiwanese infielder Tzu-Wei Lin earlier in February.

“I had been here for a week and they said I needed to go back to my apartment,” Lin told Abraham. “I was fine. I stayed away for one day and that was it.”

While in quarantine, Liu is “being delivered three meals a day, doing some weight training, and going for an occasional run,” per his Facebook page.

The Red Sox signed Liu as a two-way international prospect out of Taiwan for $750,000 back in October, but according to vice president of player development Ben Crockett, the plan is to have Liu develop as a pitcher.

“We’re just really excited to get our hands on him,” Crockett said of Liu to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings. “This guy has good stuff, and we know he’s athletic, and we’ve heard really good things about him as a person, too.”

According to MLB Pipleine, Liu is ranked as the Sox’ No. 17 prospect. If he is healthy, which he says he is, he is expected to report to Fenway South on Saturday.

 

Red Sox Prospect C.J. Chatham Dealing With Right Shoulder Soreness

Red Sox infield prospect C.J. Chatham was slated to start at shortstop in Boston’s spring training opener against the Northeastern Huskies baseball team on Friday. Instead, the 25-year-old was a late scratch from the Sox’ lineup due to right shoulder soreness.

Jeter Downs, one of three players acquired in the trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, got the start in Chatham’s place at short.

Ranked as Boston’s No. 10 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Chatham entered big-league camp with the chance to provide the Sox with some depth around the infield a few months after being added to the club’s 40-man roster for the first time back in November.

The former second-round pick out of Florida Atlantic University split time between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last season, slashing .298/.333/.408 with five home runs, 46 RBI, and seven stolen bases over 110 total games in 2019.

Earlier in the week, Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings that Chatham has “been exposed to the outfield and could ‘potentially’ get some third base reps in preparation for a utility role.”

Depending on the severity of the soreness he is dealing with, Chatham could be held out of action for the next few days. There will probably be more news about once Friday’s contest comes to a close.

As for Downs, MLB Pipeline’s No. 44 prospect got the start at his natural position and already collected his first hit in a Red Sox uniform on a first inning infield single. He has also committed a fielding error.