What do the Red Sox have in infield prospect David Hamilton?

Red Sox infield prospect David Hamilton returned to his alma mater and played in the University of Texas’ alumni game over the weekend. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored on Saturday while propelling the Texas Exes to an 8-6 victory in Austin.

Hamilton, 24, was one of two prospects the Red Sox acquired from the Brewers in the shocking trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee and Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Boston in December.

Along with fellow infielder Alex Binelas, Hamilton led the Sox to believe that they were adding a pair of intriguing minor-leaguers who had plenty to offer to their new organization.

“David Hamilton has premium speed and he’s a really good middle infielder,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said said at the time the trade was made. “Plays a good shortstop. Interesting trajectory. High-touted high school player who went to the University of Texas. Had a tough injury and recovered from it, and kept his speed. He has great speed and athleticism and is a very exciting player to add to our system.”

Originally selected by the Brewers in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Texas, Hamilton entered the professional ranks having missed the entirety of his junior season due to a ruptured Achilles suffered in a scooter accident earlier that year.

The former Longhorn missed the remainder of the 2019 season while recovering from that Achilles injury, then fell victim to the fact that the 2020 minor-league season was ultimately cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although Hamilton was unable to play affiliated ball in 2020, he did spend time with a team in the independent Constellation Energy League that was coached by Roger Clemens. He was able to use his experience there to impress at the Brewers’ fall instructional league and gain momentum heading into 2021.

After breaking minor-league camp with the High-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in the spring, Hamilton made his long-awaited pro debut on May 4. From there, the left-handed hitter batted .263/.351/.422 (114 wRC+) with 14 doubles, seven triples, five home runs, 31 RBIs, 50 runs scored, 41 stolen bases, 35 walks, and 58 strikeouts over 68 games (309 plate appearances) for the Timber Rattlers.

On August 3, the Brewers promoted Hamilton to Double-A Biloxi. With the Shuckers, the speedy middle infielder slashed .248/.322/.414 (104 wRC+) to go along with five doubles, four triples, three homers, 12 RBIs, 16 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 15 walks, and 32 strikeouts across 33 games spanning 150 trips to the plate.

Among all qualified minor-league hitters last season, Hamilton ranked fifth in total triples (11), sixth in total stolen bases (52), 25th in speed score (8.9), and seventh in weighted stolen base runs (5.8), per FanGraphs.

Upon completing the conventional minor-league season with Biloxi, Hamilton headed out west to suit up for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, where he hit an impressive .293/.453/.463 in 14 games while swiping four additional bags.

Defensively, Hamilton was drafted and signed out of Texas as a shortstop. Last year, however, the 5-foot-10, 175 pounder saw time at both shortstop and second base. He logged 112 2/3 innings at second and a much more substantial 746 2/3 innings at short between High-A and Double-A before logging 59 innings at second and 38 innings at short in Arizona.

A native of San Marcos, Hamilton was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 15 prospect in Milwaukee’s farm system at the time the Red Sox acquired him from the Brewers. He, like Binelas, was one of 28 minor-leaguers who participated in the Sox’ Winter Warm-Up program in Fort Myers last month.

The weeklong minicamp gave Red Sox brass an opportunity to see Binelas and Hamilton in-person for the first time, and it is safe to say they liked what they saw from both prospects and are excited about what is to come.

“I think somewhat different dynamic between Hamilton — more of a speed guy, more of a middle infield threat — “whereas Binelas is more of a power-orientated corner bat,” said director of player development Brian Abraham. “But I think from the short time we’ve seen them, the physicality we’ve seen even out of both them has been exciting to see. They seem like great kids and very excited about coming here to camp.”

As for Hamilton, who does not turn 25 until September, he is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 minor-league season with Double-A Portland.

With the Sea Dogs, it seems likely that Hamilton will be used in a variety of ways around the infield since the Red Sox view him as a versatile player. That being said, the speedster can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career later this year, so he would need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster by the November deadline if the club wants to prevent that from happening.

(Picture of David Hamilton via his Instagram)

Red Sox pitching prospect Chase Shugart ‘had a lot of success in Puerto Rico’ this winter, Brian Abraham says; ‘It was a really good experience for him’

Chase Shugart was one of several Red Sox minor-leaguers who spent part of their off-season playing winter ball outside of the United States.

Suiting up for Indios de Mayaguez of the Puerto Rican Winter League, Shugart posted a 2.84 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with nine strikeouts to two walks over five relief appearances spanning 6 1/3 innings of work during the regular season.

In the postseason, Shugart’s star shined even brighter. The right-handed pitching prospect allowed a total of one run on five hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts across six outings (6 1/3 innings pitched) out of the bullpen for Mayaguez. That’s good for an ERA of 1.42.

Prior to making the trek to Puerto Rico in December, Shugart had only been used as a starter since being drafted by the Red Sox in the 12th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Texas.

Last season alone, the 25-year-old pitched to the tune of a 4.78 ERA and 4.34 FIP to go along with 93 strikeouts to 24 walks over 22 starts (105 1/3 innings) for High-A Greenville.

Upon returning from Puerto Rico earlier this month, Shugart was one of 28 Red Sox minor-leaguers to receive an invite to the team’s weeklong Winter Warm-Up minicamp in Fort Myers.

That minicamp commenced at the Fenway South complex on Monday, and it also gave reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) an opportunity to speak with Sox director of player development Brian Abraham.

When asked about the long-term role of certain pitchers in the organization such as Shugart, Abraham seemed to indicate that Boston will attempt to maintain as much flexibility as they can moving forward.

“I think there’s still an opportunity to start, but I think ultimately we see him more as a bulk reliever type role,” Abraham said of Shugart. “He had a lot of success in Puerto Rico in the short amount of time he had down there. It was a really good experience for him based on the conversations we had with him today.”

Shugart, who is listed at 5-foot-10 and 198 pounds, is a four-pitch pitcher who operates with a fastball that hovers around 93-95 mph and tops out at 97 mph, a 74-80 mph curveball, an 81-84 mph slider, and an 84-87 mph changeup, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

While he may have only been used as a starter to this point in his professional career, Shugart does have experience in the bullpen that goes beyond what he did in Puerto Rico.

To begin his career at Texas, the Bridge City native pitched out of the bullpen during both his freshman and sophomore seasons before moving to the Longhorns’ starting rotation in 2018.

As Abraham alluded to in his conversation with the media on Monday, the Red Sox value relievers who can provide the club with multiple innings out of the bullpen when needed.

Given his history as a starting pitcher, Shugart could potentially fit that mold if he is going to become a reliever on a full-time basis. With that being said, Shugart is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 minor-league season in Double-A Portland’s bullpen.

(Picture of Chase Shugart via his Instagram)

Nick Yorke recognized by MLB Pipeline as Red Sox’ breakout prospect in 2021

To nobody’s surprise, Nick Yorke was recently recognized by MLB Pipeline as the Red Sox’ breakout prospect in 2021.

Boston’s top pick — and 17th overall selection — in last year’s amateur draft, Yorke made a strong impression at major-league camp this spring before beginning the minor-league season with Low-A Salem.

After initially getting off to a slow start, Yorke wound up slashing an impressive .323/.413/.500 to go along with 14 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 47 RBIs, 59 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 41 walks, and 47 strikeouts over 76 games (346 plate appearances) with the Salem Sox.

Around the same time he was named the Low-A East Player of the Month for August, Yorke earned a promotion to High-A Greenville on Aug. 24. The right-handed hitting infielder capped off his professional debut by batting .333/.406/.751 with six doubles, one triple, four home runs, 15 RBIs, 17 runs scored, two stolen bases, 11 walks, and 22 strikeouts across 21 games (96 plate appearances) with the Drive.

Among all qualified hitters who played at either Low-A or High-A this year, Yorke ranked fourth in batting average (.325), ninth in on-base percentage (.412), 25th in slugging percentage (.516), 13th in OPS (.928), and 12th in wRC+ (149), per FanGraphs.

As a result of such a strong campaign at the plate between Salem and Greenville, the 19-year-old was named Boston’s Offensive Player of the Year in September and was recognized at Fenway Park for earning the honor.

Defensively, Yorke was used strictly as a second baseman this season and committed a total of nine errors in 741 2/3 innings at the position. Despite there being some concerns that Yorke may not be able to stick at second base in the long-term, the Red Sox remain committed to keeping him there as he continues to develop.

“He showed how much improvement he can make in one offseason, just with his body, his athleticism, his improvements on defense,” Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said of Yorke when speaking with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings earlier this month. “To me, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t continue to improve and be an impact player there.”

Yorke, who does not turn 20 until next April, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in Boston’s farm system heading into 2022. The 6-foot, 200 pound California native is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin next season where he ended this season: Greenville.

That being said, it’s certainly possible Yorke could find himself at Double-A Portland sooner rather than later next year if he gets off to a hot start come April.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Red Sox prospect Tyler McDonough could add more versatility to his game by playing some shortstop in 2022, Brian Abraham says

Tyler McDonough may not have been the top selection the Red Sox made in this summer’s draft, but he has already emerged as one of the early standouts from the class.

Boston took McDonough — a 5-foot-10, 180 pound second baseman — in the third round of the 2021 amateur draft out of North Carolina State University, where he was well-regarded for for his offensive production and consistency at the plate.

Upon signing with the Sox for $831,100 in late July, McDonough was assigned to the club’s rookie-level Florida Complex League affiliate in Fort Myers. It did not take long for the 22-year-old to get acclimated to pro ball, as he was promptly promoted to Low-A Salem on August 3.

It took a little more than two weeks for McDonough to make his Salem Red Sox debut, but the switch-hitter wound up slashing .296/.397/.491 (141 wRC+) with four doubles, four triples, three home runs, 14 RBIs, 23 runs scored, three stolen bases, 17 walks, and 24 strikeouts over 27 games (126 plate appearances) to close out the minor-league season.

In his three seasons at North Carolina State, McDonough saw his playing time come at second base, third base, and center field. In his first exposure to the pros, he saw all his playing time come at either second base or center field.

That being said, the Red Sox do believe McDonough can add even more defensive versatility to his profile. The Cincinnati native did play shortstop while attending the prestigious Moeller High School and — as noted by The Athletic’s Chad Jennings — “regularly took pregame groundballs at shortstop” this past season.

When speaking with Jennings over the weekend, Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham indicated that McDonough “could play some shortstop next year, perhaps not as a primary position but to explore the possibility of backing up at the position” if the occasion arises.

“If you can play shortstop and center field, that’s pretty valuable,” said Abraham. “There aren’t too many guys who can do that. What we’ve seen — the athleticism, the footwork, the arm strength — all those things give us reason to think he could play some shortstop. But I think you have to walk before you run as well. I think we’re certainly open to it, and if he shows us he has the ability to do that, we’ll certainly give him that opportunity.”

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, and perhaps even before then, Boston has clearly placed an emphasis on players who can play multiple positions, and that — from an in-house perspective — starts from the bottom of the player development ladder.

“We’ve definitely been — I don’t want to say more aggressive, but we’ve definitely been a little bit more open to allowing guys to play in multiple areas,” Abraham said. “(We are) allowing them to get (experience) at a position where, at the upper levels, they don’t get there for the first time and say, ‘Wow, I’m uncomfortable here.’ So, I think that’s definitely been strategic on our end. But again, we’ve also been very lucky to have some very good players who can play multiple positions.”

McDonough, who does not turn 23 until April, was recently identified by Baseball America as the fastest runner and best athlete in Boston’s 2021 draft class. He is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 campaign at High-A Greenville.

(Picture of Tyler McDonough: Steven Branscombe/USA TODAY Sports)

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)