Red Sox pitching prospect Brendan Cellucci finding success as opener with High-A Greenville

On the morning of May 11, Red Sox pitching prospect Brendan Cellucci woke up with an 11.70 ERA through his first nine appearances (10 innings) of the season for High-A Greenville.

Since being selected by the Sox in the 12th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Tulane University, Cellucci had always been used as a reliever. But the left-hander was struggling mightily while repeating High-A to begin the 2022 campaign.

So, after the first week of May, the Drive decided to switch things up with their pitching staff. Cellucci would become an opener and make his first professional start on Wednesday, May 11, against the Asheville Tourists.

In two scoreless innings of work at McCormick Field that night, the 23-year-old faced the minimum while walking one and striking out four on 26 pitches — 19 of which were strikes.

Since then, Cellucci has thrived as an opener who pitches exclusively on Wednesdays and Sundays. In 10 starts for the Drive, the lefty has posted a miniscule 1.83 ERA and 2.82 FIP with 30 strikeouts to 14 walks over his last 19 2/3 innings of work.

As a reliever to start off the year, Cellucci produced an 18.2% strikeout rate, 18.2% walk rate, .317 batting average against, and a 2.30 WHIP. As a quote-unquote starter, he has produced a 38% strikeout rate, 17.7% walk rate, .138 batting average against, and a 1.17 WHIP, per FanGraphs.

Walks do remain an issue for Cellucci, though the Philadelphia-area native has been able to cut down on the free passes just a bit since moving to Greenville’s starting rotation.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Cellucci operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 93-95 mph fastball that tops out at 97 mph, an 83-86 mph curveball, and an 85-87 mph changeup, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Cellucci, who turns 24 at the end of the month, is currently regarded by FanGraphs as the 39th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. Back in March, FanGraphs’ Kevin Goldstein and Tess Taruskin described Cellucci as a southpaw with a solid foundation who “just needs to work on his ability to locate his three offerings in order to actualize his potential role as an impact reliever.”

With that being said, Cellucci can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. The Red Sox, of course, would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline if they intend to prevent that from happening.

In the meantime, it certainly seems as though Cellucci could be on his way to earning a midsummer promotion to Double-A Portland given that he has already logged 67 innings in Greenville dating back to the start of last season.

(Picture of Brendan Cellucci: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Who is Reidis Sena? Red Sox pitching prospect struck out 32.3% of the batters he faced in Florida Complex League last year

Earlier this month, FanGraphs released their list of the top 51 prospects in the Red Sox farm system heading into the 2022 system.

Headlined by the likes of Triston Casas, Marcelo Mayer, and Nick Yorke, the prospect who rounded out the list at No. 51 was right-hander Reidis Sena.

Sena, who turns 21 next month, originally signed with Boston as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic for just $10,000 in December 2018.

After making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2019, Sena was unable to pitch at the organizational level in 2020 since the minor-league season was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The young righty instead picked up where he left off last year by spending the entirety of the 2021 campaign in the rookie-level Florida Complex League. He made his season debut on July 24 and made a total of nine appearances (three starts) for the FCL Red Sox.

In those nine outings that spanned anywhere from one to four innings in length, Sena posted a 3.22 ERA and 3.83 FIP to go along with 31 strikeouts to 13 walks over 22 1/3 innings of work.

Among all FCL pitchers who threw at least 20 innings last year, the 20-year-old ranked 21st in strikeouts per nine innings (12.49), 23rd in strikeout rate (32.3%), 21st in swinging strike rate (33.7%), 29th in FIP, and 26th in xFIP (3.99), per FanGraphs.

With a listed height and weight of 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, there is not much else available on Sena besides what FanGraphs’ Kevin Goldstein and Tess Taruskin have on him.

“Sena is pretty raw for a pitching prospect who will be 21 in 2022,” they wrote. “He has huge arm strength, sitting 95 mph on the complex last year, and he makes very heavy use of that fastball. His slider has plus raw spin but Sena throws his heater 85% of the time right now, suggesting he and the Sox are just trying to get him to throw a viable rate of strikes more than anything else. He walked over five hitters per nine innings in 2021. If things click for him, he’ll move very quickly.”

As Goldstein and Taruskin indicated, Sena does need to work on his command considering the fact he averaged more than five walks per nine innings and walked more than 13% of the batters he faced last year.

That being said, there does seem to be some intrigue with Sena based off his current arsenal that consists of a high-octane fastball and slider. It will be interesting to see if the Red Sox view the Neiba native as a potential starter or reliever in the long-term.

On that note, though, Sena is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season in Low-A Salem’s starting rotation. He will have the opportunity to rise through Boston’s prospect ranks beginning in April.

(Picture of Reidis Sena: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Ranking the top 33 prospects in the Red Sox farm system

Using information from four different publications (Baseball America, FanGraphs, MLB Pipeline, and SoxProspects.com), BloggingtheRedSox.com has ranked the top 33 prospects in the Red Sox farm system heading into the 2022 season.

To nobody’s surprise, this group is headlined by the infield trio of Marcelo Mayer, Triston Casas, and Nick Yorke. This is certainly interesting when you consider the fact that Mayer (2021), Yorke (2020), and Casas (2018) were the last three players the Red Sox selected in the first round of the amateur draft.

Mayer is regarded by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline as Boston’s top overall prospect, while FanGraphs and SoxProspects have him at No. 2. Casas, on the other hand, is ranked No. 1 by FanGraphs and SoxProspects but No. 2 by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. Yorke is ranked No. 3 by all four.

This is how the order was determined. For instance, the average of Casas’ four rankings and Mayer’s four rankings comes out to 1.5 [(1+1+2+2)/4)]. The tiebreaker went to Mayer since he is younger then Casas. From there, Yorke and 30 additional Red Sox prospects were ranked, with left-hander Jeremy Wu-Yelland rounding things out at No. 33.

With that, here is the full list of 33 beginning with Mayer and ending with Wu-Yelland. Let’s get to it.

1. Marcelo Mayer, SS

Baseball America organizational rank: 1
FanGraphs organizational rank: 2
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 1
SoxProspects organizational rank: 2

Average: 1.5

2. Triston Casas, 1B

Baseball America organizational rank: 2
FanGraphs organizational rank: 1
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 2
SoxProspects organizational rank: 1

Average: 1.5

3. Nick Yorke, 2B

Baseball America organizational rank: 3
FanGraphs organizational rank: 3
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 3
SoxProspects organizational rank: 3

Average: 3

4. Jarren Duran, OF

Baseball America organizational rank: 4
FanGraphs organizational rank: Not Ranked
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 4
SoxProspects organizational rank: 4

Average: 4

5. Brayan Bello, RHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 5
FanGraphs organizational rank: 8
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 5
SoxProspects organizational rank: 6

Average: 6

6. Jeter Downs, 2B

Baseball America organizational rank: 6
FanGraphs organizational rank: 11
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 6
SoxProspects organizational rank: 5

Average: 7

7. Blaze Jordan, 3B

Baseball America organizational rank: 7
FanGraphs organizational rank: 16
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 7
SoxProspects organizational rank: 7

Average: 9.25

8. Bryan Mata, RHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 8
FanGraphs organizational rank: 12
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 8
SoxProspects organizational rank: 10

Average: 9.5

9. Wilkelman Gonzalez, RHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 13
FanGraphs organizational rank: 4
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 10
SoxProspects organizational rank: 12

Average: 9.75

10. Jay Groome, LHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 10
FanGraphs organizational rank: 13
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 12
SoxProspects organizational rank: 8

Average: 10.75

11. Brandon Walter, LHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 11
FanGraphs organizational rank: 10
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 9
SoxProspects organizational rank: 17

Average: 11.75

12. Connor Seabold, RHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 21
FanGraphs organizational rank: 7
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 15
SoxProspects organizational rank: 11

Average: 13.5

13. Gilberto Jimenez, OF

Baseball America organizational rank: 23
FanGraphs organizational rank: 5
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 18
SoxProspects organizational rank: 9

Average: 13.75

14. Miguel Bleis, OF

Baseball America organizational rank: 20
FanGraphs organizational rank: 6
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 17
SoxProspects organizational rank: 15

Average: 14.5

15. Josh Winckowski, RHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 9
FanGraphs organizational rank: 27
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 14
SoxProspects organizational rank: 13

Average: 15.75

16. Tyler McDonough, 2B/OF

Baseball America organizational rank: 16
FanGraphs organizational rank: 14
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 19
SoxProspects organizational rank: 21

Average: 17.5

17. Thaddeus Ward, RHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 19
FanGraphs organizational rank: 18
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 16
SoxProspects organizational rank: 20

Average: 18.25

Ward underwent Tommy John surgery last June and will not be ready for the start of the 2022 season. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

18. Alex Binelas, 3B

Baseball America organizational rank: 17
FanGraphs organizational rank: 17
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 22
SoxProspects organizational rank: 18

Average: 18.5

19. Chris Murphy, LHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 12
FanGraphs organizational rank: 38
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 11
SoxProspects organizational rank: 14

Average: 18.75

20. Brainer Bonaci, SS

Baseball America organizational rank: 18
FanGraphs organizational rank: 20
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 21
SoxProspects organizational rank: 22

Average: 20.25

21. Ronaldo Hernandez, C

Baseball America organizational rank: 27
FanGraphs organizational rank: 9
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 24
SoxProspects organizational rank: 23

Average: 20.75

22. Matthew Lugo, SS

Baseball America organizational rank: 14
FanGraphs organizational rank: 31
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 13
SoxProspects organizational rank: 28

Average: 21.5

23. Kutter Crawford, RHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 15
FanGraphs organizational rank: 21
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 25
SoxProspects organizational rank: 27

Average: 22

24. David Hamilton, INF

Baseball America organizational rank: 25
FanGraphs organizational rank: 15
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: Not Ranked
SoxProspects organizational rank: 26

Average: 22

25. Connor Wong, C

Baseball America organizational rank: 29
FanGraphs organizational rank: 23
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: Not Ranked
SoxProspects organizational rank: 16

Average: 22.67

26. Noah Song, RHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 30
FanGraphs organizational rank: 19
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: Not Ranked
SoxProspects organizational rank: 19

Average: 22.67

27. Ceddanne Rafaela, IF/OF

Baseball America organizational rank: 22
FanGraphs organizational rank: Not Ranked
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 28
SoxProspects organizational rank: 24

Average: 24.67

28. Nathan Hickey, C

Baseball America organizational rank: 24
FanGraphs organizational rank: Not Ranked
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 23
SoxProspects organizational rank: 29

Average: 25.33

29. Eddinson Paulino, INF

Baseball America organizational rank: 28
FanGraphs organizational rank: 34
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 20
SoxProspects organizational rank: 25

Average: 26.75

30. Christian Koss, INF

Baseball America organizational rank: 26
FanGraphs organizational rank: Not Ranked
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 27
SoxProspects organizational rank: 31

Average: 28

31. Nick Decker, OF

Baseball America organizational rank: 39
FanGraphs organizational rank: 29
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 29
SoxProspects organizational rank: 30

Average: 31.75

32. Chih-Jung Liu, RHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 32
FanGraphs organizational rank: 30
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: 30
SoxProspects organizational rank: 39

Average: 32.75

33. Jeremy Wu-Yelland, LHP

Baseball America organizational rank: 31
FanGraphs organizational rank: 41
MLB Pipeline organizational rank: Not Ranked
SoxProspects organizational rank: 35

Average: 35.67

Other prospects who missed the cut but are still worth monitoring this season include pitchers Eduard Bazardo, Durbin Feltman, Luis Perales, and Jacob Wallace as well as position players like Cameron Cannon, Tyler Dearden, Ryan Fitzgerald, Niko Kavadas, Enderso Lira, and Stephen Scott, among others.

(Picture of Marcelo Mayer and Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Could Red Sox lose pitching prospect Durbin Feltman in Rule 5 Draft?

If there is a Rule 5 Draft before the start of the 2022 MLB season, the Red Sox — like all other teams — will be at risk of losing some minor-league players.

After adding the likes of Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Josh Winckowski, and Jeter Downs to their 40-man roster in November, Boston now has 60 minor-leaguers who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, according to SoxProspects.com.

The major-league phase of the 2021 Rule 5 Draft was scheduled to take place during December’s winter meetings, but was and remains indefinitely postponed as a result of the ongoing lockout.

As of now, there is no guarantee that a Rule 5 Draft will take place before the season starts or there will be a 2022 major-league season to begin with. Under the assumption that a deal gets between MLB and the MLBPA gets done within the next few weeks, FanGraphs’ Kevin Goldstein wrote on Monday that front offices believe “they will get somewhere in the neighborhood of seven days from the joint presser of an agreement and starting spring training.”

At the time the Red Sox protected the four previously listed prospects from the Rule 5 Drat last fall, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom had mentioned how it was difficult to determine how many players they would be protecting and how many they would wind up exposing.

“We had a few tough calls, and I think some of that is a credit to the depth we built up in the system,” said Bloom. “Any time you add someone or leave someone off, in some sense it’s a calculated gamble. Over time, you learn sometimes the best way to lose a player is to add somebody that you shouldn’t. It might lead to you being in a crunch down the road, experiencing that pain of losing a player in another way, whether it’s that [unprotected] player or someone else.

“Knowing there are other things we want to accomplish this off-season with our 40-man roster and players we’d like to bring in both during the off-season and as we get into next year, wanting to have as much space as possible, that’s something you have to factor into the decisions you make,” he added. “So there were a few that were not easy, but ultimately, this is how we felt most comfortable.”

By adding four prospects to their 40-man roster in November, the Sox brought up the size of their 40-man to 37 players. They then non-tendered outfielder Tim Locastro, signed a trio of veteran pitchers (Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, and James Paxton) to major-league deals, and traded Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers for fellow outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. as well as a pair of prospects.

That flurry of moves increased the size of Boston’s 40-man roster to 39 players right before the lockout commenced on Dec. 2. It remains that way to this day thanks to the work stoppage.

Based off what Goldstein wrote, though, it does appear that the Rule 5 Draft is still on and will be completed before Opening Day — whenever that may be.

With that being said, The Athletic’s Keith Law recently suggested that the Red Sox could lose pitching prospect Durbin Feltman in the Rule 5 Draft if it does indeed happen.

Feltman, who turns 25 in April, was originally selected by Boston in the third round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Texas Christian University. The right-handed reliever opened the 2021 season with Double-A Portland and closed it with Triple-A Worcester.

Between the two levels, Feltman posted a 2.96 ERA and and 3.87 FIP to go along with 62 strikeouts to just 14 walks over 39 appearances spanning 51 2/3 innings of work.

Despite those solid numbers, the 24-year-old was not added to the Sox’ 40-man roster in November, thus leaving him eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

“Feltman had a solid year between Double and Triple A, working more in the low 90s now, topping out at 95 mph instead of the upper 90s he showed in college,” Law wrote of the righty. “He walked just four guys in 24 Triple-A innings to close out the season, and since the Red Sox declined to add him to their 40-man roster, he seems likely to be a Rule 5 pick for someone.”

Given the fact that he was left off the Red Sox’ 40-man roster, it does seem like the club is relatively low on Feltman at this point. This is reflected by him not receiving an invite to the team’s Winter Warm-Up program in Fort Myers last month and that he has fallen down to No. 48 in SoxProspects.com’s prospect rankings.

“He was trending down based on looks and reports last season and he was in danger of this kind of drop in the spring if his stuff was the same,” SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield tweeted on January 24. “When he wasn’t invited to the Winter Warm-Up, comparing to those who were, that was sort of telling.”

Coming out of TCU, Feltman had the projection of a high-leverage reliever who could work his way through the minors quickly. After four years in pro ball, it now appears that the Texas-born hurler has the ceiling of a middle reliever at the big-league level.

As SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote last year, “middle relievers like [Feltman] are often left unprotected.” The Red Sox must have felt this way, but could another team be willing to poach Feltman away from Boston if they felt he had some untapped potential?

Only time will tell.

(Picture of Durbin Feltman: Katie Morrison/MassLive)

Red Sox have ‘thoroughly’ scouted Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki, who is expected to be posted soon

Could the Red Sox be interested in signing Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki this winter? According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, the Sox have “thoroughly” scouted the international star.

Suzuki is expected to be posted by the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball at some point this off-season, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported last Friday.

Per Morosi, Hiroshima has yet to formally announce that Suzuki will be posted, but the club is slated to do so once the Japan Series — which was pushed back because of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo — concludes later this month.

Assuming that Suzuki is posted by the Carp by the end of November, major-league teams would then have 30 days from the date of posting to negotiate a contract with the 27-year-old, who would not be subject to international signing bonus limitations since he is over the age of 25 and has more than six seasons of professional experience.

This past season with Hiroshima, Suzuki slashed an impressive .319/.436/.644 to go along with 26 doubles, 38 home runs, 88 RBIs, 77 runs scored, nine stolen bases, 88 walks, and 87 strikeouts over 133 games and 535 plate appearances.

When the 2021 NPB season was paused on account of the Olympics, the right-handed hitter helped Samurai Japan win a gold medal in their home country that was capped off by a dramatic 2-0 victory over Team USA on August 7.

In addition to what he has done at the plate, Suzuki is well renowned for his defense, as the five-time NPB All-Star is also a four-time recipient of NPB’s Gold Glove Award for his work as a right fielder.

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds, Suzuki does not turn 28 until next August. Morosi notes that he has drawn comparisons to Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. because of his “patience, power and base-stealing acumen.”

On the flip side of that, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen analyzed that Suzuki “has plus power that comes from a dip-and-rip style of hitting, where he just sort of collapses his back side and tries to pull the ball with power as often as possible.

“Suzuki is at his best when he’s getting his arms extended on pitches well out over the plate,” Longenhagen continued, “but he tends to foul off or swing under fastballs creeping in on him.”

As far as contract projections go, FanGraphs has Suzuki netting himself anywhere between $40 million to $45.2 million over the span of a four-year deal. MLB Trade Rumors, on the other hand, projects that the Tokyo native will receive a five-year, $55 million contract on the open market.

Any deal Suzuki signs with a major-league team would have to include a posting fee as a way to compensate the Carp. As noted by Morosi, Hiroshima “would receive a release fee equal to 20% of the first $25 million in guaranteed contract value, plus 17.5% of the next $25 million, plus 15% of any amount beyond $50 million” under the current agreement between Major League Baseball and NPB.

It is unclear at this point just how serious the Red Sox are about pursuing Suzuki as a free agent. Boston’s outfield picture for 2022 already appears crowded with Alex Verdugo, Enrique Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe, J.D. Martinez, and Tim Locastro under club control heading into next season.

That said, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has made it a point of emphasis in his tenure with the Red Sox to cast a wide net when it comes to constructing a big-league roster, so Suzuki should at the very least be on Boston’s radar for the time being.

(Picture of Seiya Suzuki: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

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)

Jarren Duran, top Red Sox outfield prospect, homers in second start of spring: ‘He lifts, he sleeps, he eats, and he plays baseball’

Outfield prospect Jarren Duran started his second game of the spring in center field for the Red Sox on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old, hitting out of the two-hole, went 1-for-3 with a solo home run and a walk before being lifted at the start of the seventh inning.

That homer, which came on a 1-0 breaking ball from Rays right-hander David Hess, was belted deep to right field — well over the Boston bullpen, for Duran’s first big fly of the spring.

Even without a minor-league season last year, Duran still got plenty of time to develop between spending time at the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket and playing winter ball in Puerto Rico.

Over 16 regular season games for Criollos de Caguas, a team managed by Red Sox quality control coach Ramon Vazquez, the California native slashed a modest .236/.386/.273 to go along with two doubles, six stolen bases, and 10 RBI.

Duran did turn things around in the Puerto Rican postseason by posting a 1.046 OPS en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the league’s championship series.

The fact that Caguas won its respective league allowed the club to represent Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series, which led to Duran becoming a Caribbean League All-Star after going 10-for-25 (.400) at the plate with one double, one triple, one home run, and three RBI over seven games played.

While continuing to develop at the alternate site and in winter ball these past few months, it’s clear that Duran has grown stronger, as evidenced by his uptick in power as well as physique.

“He’s strong,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Tuesday. “That’s the Puerto Rican diet: rice and beans and chicken the whole offseason. And two brunches with the manager. I took care of that.

“Like I said earlier, he lifts, he sleeps, he eats, and he plays baseball,” continued Cora. “That’s what he does. And he enjoys it.”

It wasn’t too long ago when it seemed like Duran — who Boston took in the seventh round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Long Beach State — was going to be someone who relied on his speed more than anything. He did after all steal 46 bases between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2019.

Taking his speed into account, Cora told Duran that as a left-handed hitter, he should consider dropping down a couple of bunts because of where the Rays were positioning their third baseman.

“It’s funny, because we were talking about certain situations,” the Sox skipper said. “With the third baseman back early in the count, with his speed, it would be good for him to drop a few bunts down just to get on base. And then he hits a home run.”

Cora’s first exposure to Duran as Red Sox manager came during spring training in 2019. The speedy outfielder appeared in seven games back then, but it’s safe to say he has grown a lot in the last two years.

“He’s a lot stronger than what he was two years ago,” stated Cora. “He’s in-tune with the game, and he’s going to keep developing and he’s going to be a good one.”

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, Duran has one of the best speed tools among Red Sox minor-leaguers, according to FanGraphs.

The second baseman-turned-outfielder is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

If all goes according to plan, Duran — who last played at Double-A Portland in 2019 — could make his major-league debut at some point this summer, if not sooner.

For now, he will have the chance to continue to dazzle the masses in Grapefruit League play in southwest Florida.

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

Red Sox outfield prospect Jarren Duran heating up in Puerto Rico

This offseason, Red Sox outfield prospect Jarren Duran has been playing for Criollos de Caguas of the Puerto Rican Winter League.

The 24-year-old got off to a slow start with his new team, accruing just three hits through his first 37 plate appearances, but has since picked things up.

Over the course of a three-game series against RA12 over the weekend, Duran went 7-for-13 (.538) at the plate with four RBI and five runs scored, raising his line on the season to a modest .250/.429/.278 through 11 games played. He also leads Caguas in stolen bases with six on the year thus far getting without getting caught.

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 1 outfield prospect and No. 8 overall prospect, Duran is one of the fastest players in the Sox’ system.

FanGraphs grades the California native’s speed tool at a 70 out of 80, which trails only fellow outfielder Gilberto Jimenez for the best mark among Red Sox prospects.

In addition to his speed, Duran, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 187 lbs., made some adjustment to his swing last offseason and hit the ball further at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket over the summer as a result of said adjustments.

Portland Sea Dogs hitting coach Lance Zawadzki, among others, contributed to Duran’s swing evolution.

(For more on Zawadzki, check out this story from The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey)

“Working on my swing with Lance everyday here, Lance Zawadzki, and I worked with Doug Latta a little bit,” the Long Beach State product said back in August. “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. Every day’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.”

Though he is not yet on Boston’s 40-man roster, Duran very well could make his major-league debut at some point in 2021 given how close he already is.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom seemed impressed with what the former seventh-round draft pick did in 2020 when speaking with reporters last month.

“He had a tremendous 2020,” Bloom said of Duran. “He made strides hitting-wise and physically, didn’t lose any of his speed. He just had a really good year. I think for all players who didn’t play at the major league level, and even for some of those who did — because we had a shorter season — it’s tougher to feel confident in exactly what you know about them. He came into the year as someone who had spent some time in Double-A, but not with particularly distinguished performance, and then you see him put the year together that he had, and we have to try to figure out what that all means.”

For now, expect Duran to begin the 2021 campaign with Triple-A Worcester, though he will likely get plenty of time to shine once spring training begins in February.

Red Sox prospects: right-hander Aldo Ramirez, outfielder Gilberto Jimenez among top performers at fall instructs

Among the 62 minor-leaguers who attended the Red Sox’ fall instructional league from October 5 through November 12, right-hander Aldo Ramirez and outfielder Gilberto Jimenez stood out the most, according to SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall.

Per Cundall, evaluators who had the chance to attend fall instructs reported that Ramirez “showed advanced feel and should stick as a starter,” while Jimenez “has filled out considerably” and “has started to drive the ball at the plate.

Ramirez, 19, is regarded by SoxProspects as Boston’s sixth-ranked right-handed pitching prospect and 17th-ranked prospect overall.

The native of Mexico was signed from Rieleros de Aguascalientes of the Mexican League for $550,00 back in April 2018, with Sotero Torres, Eddie Romero, and Todd Claus being the scouts responsible for his signing.

Since that time, Ramirez most recently got a full season’s work in 2019 while spending time at short-season Lowell.

In 14 appearances (13 starts) for the Spinners, Ramirez posted a 3.94 ERA and a 2.95 xFIP over 61 2/3 innings of work. The 2020 minor-league season was, of course, a wash due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Per his SoxProspects scouting report, the 6-foot, 180 lb. righty works with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 91-95 mph fastball, a 77-80 mph curveball, and a 86-88 mph changeup with “splitterish movement.”

Typically pitching from a three-quarters arm slot, Ramirez currently projects to be a back-end of the rotation starting pitcher at the big-league level. At such a young age, though, he still has plenty of time to improve and further develop his craft before becoming Rule 5 eligible in 2022.

Jimenez, meanwhile, stood out as the best position player at fall instructs, and it’s easy to see why considering the 20-year-old is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the Red Sox’ top outfield prospect.

The speedster was signed out of the Dominican Republic for just $10,000 by Romero and Manny Nanita back in August 2017.

That investment has proven to pay off for the Red Sox in a tremendous way thus far, as Jimenez is without a doubt one of the more exciting players in the club’s minor-league pipeline.

On top of his 80-grade speed tool, the highest mark in the system according to FanGraphs, Jimenez has proven to be an on-base machine.

With short-season Lowell in 2019, the switch-hitting outfielder won the New York-Penn League batting title by slashing .359/.393/.470 to go along with three home runs, 19 RBI, and 14 stolen bases over 59 games played.

The one downside to Jimenez’s performance last year was that he primarily relied on his speed to turn groundballs into base hits, meaning he did not get the ball in the air all that much.

Despite that lone deterrent, Jimenez does have quick hands and plus bat speed to show for it. As mentioned above, he has also apparently filled out this year to the point where he is “now built like a running back.”

With that additional muscle, Jimenez has begun to show some flashes of power from the right side of the plate, which is the side of the plate he primarily hit from until converting into a switch-hitter in 2017.

Jimenez will become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft next winter, meaning there is a very good chance he will be added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster within the next 12-plus months.

As you may have already guessed upon reading this report, Jimenez has plenty of potential, and like Ramirez, plenty of room to grow as a player, too.

Neither Ramirez nor Jimenez were included in the Red Sox’ 60-man player pool this past season, so the fall instructional league provided the club with its first real opportunity since March to check in on many of its coveted prospects.

Information from FanGraphs, MLB Pipeline, and SoxProspects.com was used in this article.

MLB Draft Rumors: Red Sox Could Target Cheaper Prospect With Top Pick

In his final 2020 mock draft for FanGraphs, Eric Longenhagen has the Red Sox taking Jesuit High School (Ore.) right-hander Mick Abel with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

That’s really no surprise, but what is surprising is the information that follows Longenhagen’s prediction. It foes as follows:

It sounds like even though Boston doesn’t have a second rounder, they’re looking to take advantage of teams generally avoiding high school players and might cut a deal here to scoop some of them up later. A hot rumor here is that Arizona high school shortstop Carson Tucker or righty Tanner Witt might go underslot here to facilitate that. I think that’s a contingency plan for if Abel is gone.

As we all know by now, the loss of a second-round pick from their illegal stealing of signs in 2018 has resulted in the Red Sox’ total slot value for the 2020 draft falling to $5,129,900, ranking 26th among the 30 MLB clubs.

To put it simply, Boston has less money to spend on draft picks than the majority of other teams do, and because of that, rumors like the one mentioned above have surfaced.

As Longenhagen notes, if the Red Sox were to draft a player Wednesday who would sign for less than the $3,609,700 allotted to that slot, that would allow them to spend more on the three picks they will make Thursday.

It’s somewhat of a bold strategy considering that the Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, could be settling for less with their top pick. But, if all goes according to plan, this approach could also prove to be quite beneficial in the long run.

Going back to the prospects involved here, we already know plenty about Abel, an 18-year-old committed to play college baseball at Oregon State. But what about Tucker and Witt?

Tucker, also 18, is the younger brother of Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker. Carson is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the 52nd-ranked prospect in this year’s draft class and is regarded as someone who “has the chance to join his brother as a big league caliber shortstop.”

A right-handed hitter who is listed at 6’2″ and 180 lbs., the University of Texas commit slashed .390/.455/.574 with five home runs, 20 doubles, and 68 RBI over 92 total games spanning four seasons at Mountain Pointe High School.

Witt, meanwhile, also has connections to professional baseball in his family, as he is the son of former major-leaguer Kevin Witt.

Tanner, who turns 18 in July, is listed one spot below Tucker in MLB Pipeline’s draft-eligible prospect rankings and is also committed to play college baseball for the Longhorns.

The 6’6″ righty’s pitching arsenal includes an 88-92 MPH fastball that can reach 95 MPH, a mid-70s curveball, and a mid-80s changeup. He is apparently “only scratching the surface of his potential as a pitcher and may need time to develop, but the payoff could be significant.”

Could the Red Sox take one of these two lower-ranked prospects with their top pick? Or will they instead opt to go with Abel or prep outfielder Pete-Crow Armstrong instead? We’ll have to wait and see.