Red Sox power-hitting prospect Blaze Jordan could be ready to break out in 2022

Is Red Sox prospect Blaze Jordan primed to break out in 2022? The experts at MLB.com seem to think so.

Earlier this week, MLB Pipeline published an article in which three writers — William Boor, Jim Callis, and Sam Dykstra — picked one potential breakout candidate from each team’s farm system.

For the Red Sox, that turned out to be Jordan, the club’s third-round selection in the 2020 amateur draft who just completed his first full season as a pro in 2021.

After breaking minor-league spring training with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox, Jordan got his 2021 campaign off to a blazing start.

The right-handed hitting corner infielder slashed a blistering .362/.408/.667 (170 wRC+) to go along with seven doubles, one triple, four home runs, 19 RBIs, 12 runs scored, one stolen base, six walks, and 13 strikeouts over 19 games (76 plate appearances) in the FCL before earning a promotion to Low-A Salem in early August.

It took quite a while for Jordan to debut for Salem, but the then-18-year-old made his first appearance for the Red Sox on Aug. 19. One of the youngest position players at the Low-A level, he proceeded to slash .250/.289/.444 (95 wRC+) one double, two homers, seven RBIs, seven runs scored, two walks, and eight strikeouts across nine games spanning 38 plate appearances. A trip to the injured list prematurely ended his season in early September.

Defensively, Jordan logged 41 innings at first base and 146 2/3 innings at third base between the complex league and Low-A last year. The native Mississippian committed a total of two errors at the hot corner but did not make any miscues at first base.

Jordan, who turned 19 last month, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 9 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks sixth among position players in the organization.

In November, Baseball America identified Jordan as the best power hitter in the Sox’ system, citing that the 6-foot-2, 220 pounder’s “plus-plus [70-grade] power is a show-stopper. He hits towering home runs to all fields and gets to his power even with a disconnect in his upper and lower halves that should get smoothed out over time. Though he lacks any real semblance of an approach, he sees the ball well, allowing him to remain more controlled in the batter’s box than might be expected.”  

Since he reclassified in high school to graduate a year early and enter the draft sooner than expected, Jordan is still relatively young for a prospect who is entering his third year of pro ball. Along those same lines, the one-time Mississippi State commit is projected by SoxProspects.com to open the 2022 season where he left off in September: Salem.

(Picture of Blaze Jordan: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox prospect Blaze Jordan named best power hitter in Boston’s farm system by Baseball America

For the second year running, Blaze Jordan was named the best power-hitting prospect in the Red Sox farm system heading into the 2022 season by Baseball America on Wednesday.

Jordan, who turns 19 next month, was also identified by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in Boston’s farm system, rising 11 spots from where he was at this time one year ago.

The Red Sox originally selected Jordan in the third round of the 2020 amateur draft out of DeSoto Central High School (Southaven, Miss.), ultimately swaying him away from his commitment to Mississippi State University by signing him to an overslot deal of $1.75 million.

With the 2020 minor-league season having been cancelled on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jordan did not make his highly-anticipated professional debut until this past June in the rookie-level Florida Complex League.

In 19 complex league games, the right-handed hitting corner infielder slashed .362/.408/.667 (170 wRC+) with seven doubles, one triple, four home runs, 19 RBIs, 12 runs scored, one stolen bases, six walks, and 13 strikeouts over 76 plate appearances before earning a promotion to Low-A Salem in early August.

Among hitters who accrued at least 70 plate appearances in the Florida Complex League this season, Jordan ranked third in slugging percentage, fifth in isolated power (.304), and seventh in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

It took more than two weeks for Jordan to debut for Salem, but the 18-year-old picked up where he left off by batting .250/.289/.444 (95 wRC+) to go along with one double, two homers, seven RBIs, seven runs scored, two walks, and eight strikeouts across nine games (38 plate appearances) to close out the year.

Considering that he reclassified while in high school to graduate a year early, Jordan is still a relatively young prospect. The 6-foot-2, 220 pounder was signed by Red Sox area scout Danny Watkins out of high school and was among the youngest hitters to play at the Low-A level this season.

On Wednesday, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, who also serves as a Red Sox correspondent for Baseball America, wrote that Jordan’s “plus-plus power is a show-stopper. He hits towering home runs to all fields and gets to his power even with a disconnect in his upper and lower halves that should get smoothed out over time.

“Though he lacks any real semblance of an approach, he sees the ball well, allowing him to remain more controlled in the batter’s box than might be expected,” added Speier. “Jordan projects to be no more than a fringe-average hitter, but his pitch recognition gives him the foundation to get to his power enough to be an everyday player.”

On the other side of the ball, Jordan saw the majority of his playing time at both the complex and Low-A come at third base, though he also appeared in five total games as a first baseman as well.

The Sox, per Speier, “believe he can continue developing at third, which he does have the plus arm strength for.”

As for where Jordan will begin the 2022 season, it is believed that Boston will take a deliberate approach with the young infielder and have him progress through the system at a steady pace beginning in Salem next spring.

(Picture of Blaze Jordan: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Blogging the Red Sox presents: A conversation about the Florida Complex League with Ben Crockett

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to exchange emails with Red Sox senior vice president of baseball operations Ben Crockett.

Crockett, who is in the midst of his 15th season with the Red Sox organization after starting out as an intern, was promoted to his current role back in January after serving as the club’s vice president of player development the previous four years.

A native of Topsfield, Mass., Crockett was originally selected by Boston in the 10th round of the 2001 amateur draft as a right-handed pitcher out of Harvard University.

After returning to Harvard for his senior season, Crockett was taken by the Colorado Rockies in the third round of the 2002 draft and spent four seasons in their system before calling it a playing career in 2006.

In his time with the Red Sox as an executive, Crockett — now 41 — has undertaken a variety of roles that primarily revolves around player development. As the club’s senior vice president of baseball operations, Crockett “assists in all areas of baseball operations, with a focus on player development, performance, and baseball systems.”

One area in particular that Crockett assists in would be how Red Sox minor-leaguers are doing in the rookie-level Florida Complex League (formerly the Gulf Coast League) down at the team’s spring training facility in Fort Myers.

To this point in the season, the Florida Complex League Red Sox are 20-11 and owners of the fourth-best record in the FCL.

Among those within Boston’s farm system who have played for the club’s FCL affiliate so far this summer include include a number of the organization’s top prospects, such as 2021 first-round draft pick Marcelo Mayer, Wilkelman Gonzalez, and Brainer Bonaci.

I made sure to ask Crockett about the Sox’ premier prospects, but I wanted to ask about some under-the-radar-type players as well. So, without further ado, here is a quote-unquote transcript of the conversation we had through email.

Has the loss of the New York-Penn League changed the way the organization looks at how prospects just out of college are performing in the Florida Complex League? For instance, do you take [2021 18th-round pick] Philip Sikes batting .438/.500/.625 or [2021 ninth-round pick] Tyler Miller batting .409/500/.545 thus far with a grain of salt based off the level of pitching they faced while at Texas Christian University and Auburn University?

Ben Crockett: We try not to put too much stock in small samples of performance, especially in a player’s first year with a mid-July draft, but are happy with the debuts of many guys, including those you mentioned like Miller and Sikes.

The following question has to do with the players to be named later the Red Sox acquired from the Royals and Mets in June as part of the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City back in February:

With Josh Winckowski and Grant Gambrell pitching at more advanced levels, what have you made of the way right-hander Luis De La Rosa and outfielder Freddy Valdez have acclimated to a new organization after coming over mid-season?

Crockett: Both Luis and Freddy have made positive first impressions. They’ve worked hard, been willing to communicate, and shown the positive physical qualities our scouts identified prior to acquiring them.

What makes infielder Eddinson Paulino and right-hander Wilkelman Gonzalez stand out and what did they do during the COVID shutdown last year to get off to such a strong start this season? Paulino is hitting .377/.476/.609 while Gonzalez has posted a 3.90 ERA through seven starts.

Crockett: Both have taken steps forward in 2021, taking full advantage of their time with us and during their preparation at home. We’ve been really pleased with the underlying qualities that have led to the success they’ve seen on the field.

How has the organization gone about evaluating those prospects who had lost seasons last year because of the pandemic, such as former international signee Brainer Bonaci or former 2019 25th-round draft pick Karson Simas? Both Bonaci and Simas are infielders.

Crockett: Simas has done great work physically and has matured into his body, allowing some of his actions to translate into performance on the field. He’s shown great athleticism and versatility.

Bonaci has built on a positive 2020 at the academy, and has made some positive adjustments from his time in instructs last fall. He’s controlled the zone, made good contact from both sides, and continues to improve his defense at shortstop.

Has the addition of Marcelo Mayer to the Florida Complex League roster created any buzz around the Fenway South complex? What about when 2020 third-round pick Blaze Jordan was there prior to his promotion to Salem?

Crockett: The FCL group has done a great job keeping the energy high throughout the season, transitioning well from extended spring when their game reps were limited at times. I think they are really excited to be playing well and realize they have a very talented group of players.

The following question has to do with right-handed pitching prospect Eduard Bazardo, who made his major-league debut for Boston back in April, but had been sidelined with a right lat strain since late May. The 25-year-old was sent out on a rehab assignment with the FCL Red Sox last Friday:

How goes Eduard Bazardo’s rehab and would you expect him to get any more big-league consideration before season’s end?

Crockett: His rehab is going well, getting back into games now and bouncing back well.

Thank you to Ben Crockett for taking time out of his busy in-season schedule to answer these questions and for also making this possible in the first place.

(Picture of Marcelo Mayer: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox promote power-hitting prospect Blaze Jordan to Low-A Salem

The Red Sox have promoted infield prospect Blaze Jordan to Low-A Salem, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Jordan, 18, began the 2021 minor-league season with the rookie-level Red Sox of the Florida Gulf Coast League and got off to a sizzling start, slashing an impressive .362/.408/.667 (169 wRC+) to go along with seven doubles, one triple, four home runs, 19 RBI, 12 runs scored, one stolen base, six walks, and 13 strikeouts over 19 games and 76 plate appearances.

In his final seven games with the FCL Red Sox, Jordan posted an absurd 2.000 OPS, so it appears he was ready for a new challenge.

Boston originally selected the right-handed hitting infielder with its third-round pick (89th overall) in last year’s amateur draft out of DeSoto Central High School (Miss.)

At that time, Jordan — a native of Southaven, Miss. who reclassified in order to graduate a year early — was committed to play college baseball at nearby Mississippi State University, but the Red Sox were able to sign him for $1.75 million.

Known for his raw power going back to his high school days, Jordan was unable to showcase his skills out of the gate with the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though he did participate in the Sox’ fall instructional league and has since carried that over thus far in 2021.

Jordan, who does not turn 19 until late December, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 13 prospect in Boston’s farm system. Per his Baseball America scouting report, the young infielder ” generates his tremendous power with size and a well-synced kinetic chain that seems to transfer every drop of his frame into contact.”

In the 19 games he played with the FCL Red Sox, Jordan — listed at 6-foot-2 and 215 pound — saw the majority of his playing time come at third base with a little bit of first base mixed in there as well.

It’s unclear at the moment which position Jordan will occupy more while with Salem, but he will undoubtedly become teammates and share the same infield with fellow 2020 draftee Nick Yorke, whom the Sox selected in the first round.

(Picture of Blaze Jordan: Jason Miller/Getty Images

Chaim Bloom explains what went into Red Sox taking infielder Nick Yorke with top pick in 2020 MLB Draft

When the Red Sox selected prep infielder Nick Yorke with their top pick in the shortened 2020 MLB first-year player draft, they were met with quite a bit of blowback from fans and the general public alike.

Going into the June draft, which was cut down to five rounds due to the financial constraints created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Yorke was not necessarily seen as a bona fide first-rounder.

A recent graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School in the San Jose Area, the 18-year-old was committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona and it appeared as though that commitment was a strong one.

With that, and perhaps other factors, in mind, Yorke slipped through the draft rankings to the point where Baseball America had him as the No. 96 draft-eligible prospect in the early stages of the summer.

While other clubs targeted more hyped-up and well-known prospects with their respective top selections, the Sox did not shy away from Yorke — a player they had already liked — when they were put on the clock at pick No. 17.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much when speaking with SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall on the SoxProspects.com podcast earlier this week.

“I think at the end of the day, what it came down to is not us trying to do something that was off the board because we got a kick out of doing something that was off the board, but believing in it and not being scared off of it just because it was different,” Bloom said. “If the only reason that we don’t do something is that we’re worried about criticism, that’s not a good enough reason. We should never operate like that. We have to be willing to do what we believe is right, even if we’re going to get criticized.

“We knew that it would come with some blowback,” continued Bloom. “Because Nick wasn’t a hyped player. We also had a lot of belief in the player and there was also belief that if we had had a normal spring, he would have been seen. A lot of things kind of conspired with him having been hurt the year before and not having played the infield the year before. And if you weren’t there really all over him those first few weekends, you did not have enough information on Nick Yorke to really think anything about him.”

Because of the aforementioned pandemic, Yorke’s senior season at Archbishop Mitty was prematurely cut short after just five games. The right-handed hitter went 8-for-15 (.533) with two home runs and six RBI in those five games, though, to finish his high school career with an otherworldly .457/.552/.709 slash line over 94 total games played at the varsity level.

Still, even if Yorke, who is listed at 6-foot and 200 lbs., was able to play a full season’s worth of high school ball in 2020, perceptions of him around the game would have still likely varied.

“We could have had a full spring and there still would have been a lot of different opinions in the industry about the player, about the profile,” said Bloom. “But, we had a really strong belief in the evaluation that we had and we went through a very rigorous process about how to build our board. And look, there’s certainly ways the draft could have fallen where we might have ended up taking someone else. It wasn’t that we were hellbent on saving money in that round to go spend it later.

“But, given what the board looked like when it got to our pick, we felt very, very clearly that it made sense to us to take Nick there,” Bloom added. “We liked the player a lot and also felt like we had some savings we could do damage with later in the draft.”

A little less than a month after drafting him, the Sox managed to sign Yorke for $2.7 million, which fell well below the recommended slot value for the 17th overall pick in the 2020 draft ($3.6 million).

This, in turn, allowed the club to draft and sign fellow prep prospect Blaze Jordan, who was selected in the third round with the 89th overall pick.

With a full ride to Mississippi State University to use to his advantage, Jordan received $1.75 million in signing bonus money from Boston, well above the recommended slot value assigned to pick No. 89 ($667,900).

As you may recall, the reason the Red Sox were docked a second-round pick in last year’s draft was due to their illegal use of the video replay room during the 2018 season, hence the long wait in between their first and second selections.

“It really has to start with believing in the player,” Bloom said of Yorke, his first draft pick as Boston’s CBO. “Because it was going to be a long time before we were going to pick again, and you can’t necessarily count on what you’re going to be able to do with those savings. But, we also felt like we had enough intel — that there were enough clubs that were aligned with us on Nick — that waiting for him to be around at pick No. 89 was also not a good strategy. This was a player we wanted.”

Following impressive showings at both the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket and fall instructional league in Fort Myers last year, Yorke has worked his way up to becoming the No. 13 prospect (No. 6 among position players) in Boston’s farm system, per SoxProspects.

The Newport Beach native is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season — whenever it begins — with Low-A Salem, where he will have the chance to show off his highly-touted hit tool and continue to develop in organized games against other teams for the first time as a professional.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox Set To Kick off Fall Instructional League This Week With Bevy of Top Prospects in Attendance

The Red Sox are set to kick off their fall instructional league in Fort Myers on Monday. And according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, several of the club’s top prospects will take part in these offseason activities.

Among the 62 minor-leaguers who will report to Fenway South starting this week, several had just spent at least part of their summers at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket. Those names, per Speier, include pitchers Bryan Mata and Jay Groome, infielders Triston Casas, Nick Yorke, and Hudson Potts, and outfielder Jeisson Rosario.

As for the prospects who did not receive an invite to the alternate site this season, there are right-handers Brayan Bello and Thad Ward, left-hander Chris Murphy, infielders Brainer Bonaci and Matthew Lugo, and speedy outfielder Gilberto Jimenez.

On top of that group of players, infielder Blaze Jordan and pitchers Shane Drohan and Jeremy Wu-Yelland — the rest of Boston’s 2020 draft class — are also expected to attend this offseason program that will run until November 12.

Although it is not yet clear if teams will be allowed to play games against one another due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these instructional leagues do allow the Red Sox, as well as the other 29 clubs, to get back in contact with the core of their minor-league talent.

Speaking of minor-league talent, as of September 1, the Sox had the No. 25 farm system in baseball according to MLB Pipeline.

As underwhelming as that ranking may be, there appears to be optimism from within the organization that things in that developmental area are steadily improving. PawSox manager Billy McMillon opined as much when speaking with reporters this past Friday via Zoom.

“I think it’s very promising right now,” McMillon said regarding the state of the Red Sox farm system. “Some of the returns that we got back in some of the various trades and offseason acquisitions, I think that’s going to raise the level of our minor-leagues. We saw some guys develop, get a little bit better. There’s encouraging news from guys that impressed on the mound to seeing how some of the position players developed. I think the cupboard is getting full again, and I think there’s reason for optimism with some of the guys that we saw in the alternate camp.”

Expect the full list of Red Sox minor-leaguers who will be attending fall instructs to be released relatively soon.

UPDATE: Here’s the full list of the 62 Red Sox minor-leaguers who will be at full instructs, courtesy of SoxProspects.

Red Sox Sign Fifth-Round Draft Pick Shane Drohan for $600,000

The Red Sox have signed fifth-round draft pick Shane Drohan, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

Per Callis, Drohan, a 21-year-old left-hander out of Florida State University, signed with Boston for $600,000, which is well above the $364,400 in recommended slot value assigned to the 148th overall pick ($364,400).

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as the 147th-ranked draft-eligible prospect headed into this year’s draft, Drohan posted a 4.08 ERA over four starts and 17 2/3 innings pitched for the Seminoles in his junior season before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the college baseball season.

Based off his SoxProspects scouting report, Drohan, a native of Fort Lauderdale, has a pitch mix that includes a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a 77-79 mph curveball, and an 80-83 mph changeup.

By signing Drohan, the Red Sox have now inked all four of their 2020 draft picks to professional contracts.

First-rounder Nick Yorke signed for $2.7 million, third-rounder Blaze Jordan signed for $1.75 million, fourth-rounder Jeremy Wu-Yelland signed for $200,000, and as already mentioned, fifth-rounder Shane Drohan signed for $600,000.

In total, Boston spent $5.25 million in order to sign their draftees, an amount that just barely surpasses their $5,129,900 bonus pool. As noted by SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall, this means that the club will “have to pay a 75% tax on the extra $120,100” they spent on their picks.

Also worth mentioning, the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, have signed 14 undrafted free agents, the most in baseball.

Red Sox Reportedly Sign Fourth-Round Draft Pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland for $200,000

The Red Sox have signed fourth-round draft pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

Per Callis, the former University of Hawaii left-hander signed for $200,000, a bonus well under the recommended slot value assigned to 118th overall pick in this year’s draft ($487,900).

A 6-foot-2 southpaw out of Spokane, Wash., Wu-Yelland was the first of two college pitchers taken by Boston in Chaim Bloom’s first draft as chief baseball officer.

The 21-year-old junior posted a nice 0.69 ERA and .200 batting average against over seven relief appearances and 13 innings pitched for the Rainbow Warriors before the 2020 college baseball season was shut down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Regarded by Baseball America as the 261st-ranked prospect in this year’s draft, Wu-Yelland’s pitch mix, courtesy of SoxProspects, includes a 91-95 mph fastball that can top out at 97 mph, a 79-83 mph slider, and a 81-83 mph changeup. All while the lefty throws from a three-quarters arm slot.

Upon drafting Wu-Yelland last month, Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni said the Central Valley High School product has the chance to to be a starter despite his success as a reliever in college.

“We listed him as a starter,” Toboni told reporters via Zoom. “I think there’s a chance that might be the case. Long-term, still a little bit unsure. But once again, we think the strikes are good enough. We think that he’s able to get his pitches moving in a number of unique directions. Command, I think there’s enough there right now. But we’re hoping he can take a little bit of a jump in that regard, too. Just how big of a jump he makes, which once again, we’re super optimistic, I wouldn’t rule starting out. But I think we can always fall back on the plan of being up to 97 (mph) from the left side out of the pen.”

By reportedly getting Wu-Yelland signed, the only draftee the Sox have left to sign is fifth-round selection Shane Drohan, a 21-year-old junior right-hander out of Florida State University.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Boston can sign Drohan for up to $479,900 without being penalized. That being the case because the club has already spent $4.65 million of their $5,129,900 bonus pool in signing first-round pick Nick Yorke, third-round pick Blaze Jordan, and now Wu-Yelland.

Only one of those signings (Yorke) have been finalized by the Sox to this point, so expect more official announcements relatively soon.

 

Red Sox Sign Top Draft Pick Nick Yorke for $2.7 Million

The Red Sox officially signed top draft pick Nick Yorke on Tuesday, per Yorke himself.

According to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, the 17-year-old Yorke signed with Boston for $2.7 million, which is about $900,000 below the slot value assigned to the 17th overall pick in the 2020 first-year player draft.

By doing this, the Red Sox were able to sign third-round selection Blaze Jordan for $1.75 million, which is well past the 89th pick’s recommended slot value of $667,900.

Regarded by Baseball America as the 96th-ranked draft-eligible prospect ahead of this year’s draft, Yorke went as early as he did because, as Callis notes, the Sox “legitimately loved” his bat.

The prep second baseman out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif. slashed .457/.552/.709 with 11 home runs and 77 RBI over four seasons and 94 games played for the Monarchs’ varsity baseball team.

Many were surprised that Boston went in the direction of taking Yorke with their top pick, but as previously mentioned, they had legitimate reasoning to do so.

When speaking with reporters after the 2020 draft, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said that Yorke “has a chance to be a special bat who is going to play the infield.”

On top of that, amateur scouting director Paul Toboni added, “We feel like if there would have been a full spring, there probably would have been industry consensus that this kid was a first-round pick.”

Yorke was committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona. He will instead become a professional and will likely have to wait a while to actually start playing in organized minor-league games due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On another note, as brought up by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox now have approximately $679,900 to work with to sign fourth-round pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland and fifth-round pick Shane Drohan.

Red Sox Reportedly Reach Agreement With Third-Round Draft Pick Blaze Jordan

The Red Sox and third-round draft pick Blaze Jordan have reportedly agreed to a deal that includes a $1.75 million signing bonus, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Per Cotillo, “Jordan will fly to Boston next week to take a physical and make his deal official.”

Selected by Boston with the 89th overall pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft, the 17-year-old Jordan will receive a bonus that surpasses the $667,900 in slot value that was assigned to his draft position.

The slugging corner infielder out of DeSoto Central High School in Mississippi is the first of four Red Sox draft selections to reportedly sign with the club. First-round pick Nick Yorke, fourth-round pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland, and fifth-round pick Shane Drohan have until August 1st to sign.