Red Sox’ Miguel Bleis enters Baseball America’s top 100 prospects rankings

Red Sox outfield prospect Miguel Bleis has entered Baseball America’s top 100 rankings heading into the 2023 season.

Previously unranked, Bleis is now considered by the publication to be the 88th-ranked prospect in all of baseball. The 18-year-old was one of five Red Sox minor-leaguers to make the cut for the top-100 on Wednesday, joining the likes of Marcelo Mayer at No. 10, Triston Casas at No. 29, Ceddanne Rafaela at No. 71, and Masataka Yoshida at No. 87.

Bleis is already regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally signed the Dominican-born outfielder for $1.5 million as a highly-touted international free agent coming out of San Pedro de Macoris in January 2021.

After a solid pro debut in the Dominican Summer League, Bleis made the jump to the Florida Complex League last year. The right-handed hitter batted a stout .301/.353/.543 with 14 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 27 RBIs, 28 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 10 walks, and 45 strikeouts in 40 games (167 plate appearances) for Boston’s rookie-level affiliate.

Among qualified hitters in the Florida Complex League last season, Bleis ranked seventh in batting average, 24th in on-base percentage, third in slugging percentage, fourth in OPS (.896), 12th in line-drive rate (22.3 percent) second in isolated power (.242), tied for first in speed score (9.3), and sixth in wRC+ (142), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Bleis saw the majority of his playing time for the FCL Red Sox come in center field. The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder logged 310 1/3 innings in center and just five innings in right while registering a team-high five outfield assists, which is a testament to his arm strength.

Had he not been bothered by back soreness in late August, Bleis would have been promoted to Low-A Salem for the final few weeks of the 2022 campaign. The Red Sox instead opted to have Bleis stay back in Fort Myers to get healthy before sending him home for the winter.

Despite playing in just 40 minor-league games, Bleis still drew plenty of attention throughout the calendar year. Back in August, SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall tweeted that Bleis is “the prospect generating the most buzz in the Red Sox farm system right now.”

In late October, Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline tabbed Bleis as “Boston’s best international prospect since Rafael Devers,” noting that the former’s stock rose in 2022 since “he displayed his all-around ability to a larger audience while making his U.S. debut.”

Bleis, who turns 19 in March, is expected to begin the 2023 season in Salem, where he should serve as the Red Sox’ primary center fielder. There are some concerns about his approach at the plate, but he has time to work out those issues as he continues to develop. As the saying goes, Bleis’ potential is through the roof at the moment.

“He has five tools. That’s the reality,” Red Sox director of player development said of Bleis in a conversation with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings last September. “You don’t see that too often. What those five tools will ultimately (become), how they will pan out, not sure. But in terms of the tools, and in terms of the ability to impact the game in various ways, he does that. I think whenever you have a player who does those types of things, he’s someone you want to pay attention to and watch.”

(Picture of Miguel Bleis: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospect Armando Sierra improved across the board in 2022

Red Sox first base/outfield prospect Armando Sierra celebrated his 19th birthday on Tuesday.

Sierra originally signed with the Red Sox for $150,000 as an international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic just two days shy of his 17th birthday in January 2021. Shortly thereafter, the Sabana Grande de Palenque native was identified by Baseball America as a potential under-the-radar addition to Boston’s 2021 signing class.

“Armando was a player we scouted later on in his signing year,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero said of Sierra in April 2021. “After scouting him a few times, he stood out for his strong frame and his power. As we continued to see him, it became apparent that not only did he have above average power for his signing class, but he also was developing a stronger approach.”

Sierra made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in July 2021. In 53 games for the DSL Red Sox Blue, the right-handed hitter batted .284/.373/.379 with 10 doubles, two home runs, 35 RBIs, 24 runs scored, 21 walks, and 41 strikeouts over 193 plate appearances.

After seeing the majority of his playing time come in the outfield corners in 2021, Sierra played more first base as he returned to the Dominican Summer League last year. In the process of logging 220 2/3 innings at first, 46 innings in left field, and 41 innings in right field, the 6-foot-2, 189-pounder slashed .314/.399/.473 with 15 doubles, five homers, 48 runs driven in, 37 runs scored, three stolen bases, 25 walks, and 22 strikeouts across 51 games (218 plate appearances) with the DSL Red Sox Blue.

Among the 69 hitters in the Dominican Summer League who made at least 210 trips to the plate in 2022, Sierra ranked second in strikeout rate (10.1 percent), ninth in batting average, 16th in on-base percentage, 11th in slugging percentage, 12th in OPS (.872), 24th in isolated power (.160), 16th in line-drive rate (23 percent), third in swinging-strike rate (16.5 percent), and 10th in wRC+ (136), per FanGraphs. He also represented the Red Sox in last July’s DSL All-Star Game.

As the above numbers indicate, Sierra showed signs of improvement across the board last season. He hit for a higher average (.284 to .314), raised his on-base percentage (.373 to .399), hit for more power (.379 to .473 slugging percentage), walked more (10.9 percent to 11.5 percent walk rate), and struck out less (21.2 to 10.1 percent strikeout rate) while putting up a wRC+ that increased by 19 percent (117 to 136).

Of course, Sierra has done all of this at the lowest rung of the minor-league ladder. He will likely be faced with an adjustment period when he makes the expected jump to the rookie-level Florida Complex League later this summer. With that being said, though, Sierra certainly seems to be on an encouraging trajectory even if he is still just a developing teenager.

Sierra, who obviously does not turn 20 until next January, is not yet regarded by publications such as SoxProspects.com as one of the top 60 prospects in Boston’s farm system. He should, however, have the chance to elevate his profile once he officially goes stateside in 2023.

(Picture of Fenway Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox prospect Eddinson Paulino proved to be dynamic with Low-A Salem this season

Eddinson Paulino was among the Red Sox’ top performers in the Florida Complex League last year. He showed why that was no fluke as he made the transition to full-season ball in 2022.

Coming out of minor-league spring training, Paulino was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 28 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He then broke camp and spent the entirety of the campaign at Low-A Salem.

In 114 games with the Salem Red Sox, the versatile left-handed hitter batted .266/.359/.469 with 35 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs, 66 RBIs, 96 runs scored, 27 stolen bases, 64 walks, and 105 strikeouts over 539 plate appearances.

When the All-Star break arrived in mid-July, Paulino was hitting just .239/.327/.451 through his first 80 games. From July 22 onward, though, the 20-year-old slashed a stout .331/.432/.559 with 18 extra-base hits in his final 34 games of the season.

Among 51 qualified Carolina League hitters, Paulino ranked 24th in walk rate (11.9 percent), 14th in strikeout rate (19.5 percent), 14th in swinging-strike rate (11.2 percent), fourth in line-drive rate (25.6 percent), 14th in batting average, 17th in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage, fifth in OPS (.827), fifth in isolated power (.203), fifth in speed score (8.5), and fifth in wRC+ (128), per FanGraphs.

“He can impact the game in several ways,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith in September. “He can launch one if needed. He’s just become a good hitter.”

Defensively, Paulino made appearances at five different positions (not including designated hitter) for Salem this season. The 5-foot, 155-pounder logged 301 innings at shortstop, 289 innings at third base, 243 2/3 innings at second base, 98 1/3 innings in center field, and eight innings in left. Both of his outfield assists came in center.

“Just to have that skillset being a left-handed hitter,” said Romero.

The Red Sox originally signed Paulino for $205,000 as an international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2018. The Santiago native made his professional debut in his home country the following summer but his career was put on hold in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It now turns out that Paulino likely took advantage of the lost 2020 minor-league season by honing his craft in his own way. Whether it be his ability to make hard contact or steal bases at a high rate, the Red Sox were pleased with what they saw from Paulino this year.

“We’ve always liked his hitting ability,” Romero said. “He hits the ball hard in all quadrants. He’s another guy who jumps on fastballs but I think has really increased his recognition skills. He’s made a big jump in that. He’s got a good number of walks. The on-base percentage is good.

“And also the speed element of the game,” he added. “He’s got 26, 27 stolen bases. All that makes him a very dynamic player. … Another player who it’s been really cool to see his development.”

Paulino, who does not turn 21 until next July, is now regarded by Baseball America as the 18th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is Rule 5-eligible this winter, but is not a sure bet to receive protection by being added to the 40-man roster later this month.

While the tools and talent are certainly there, Paulino has yet to play above A-ball. And so the Red Sox may elect to protect prospects who have already reached the upper levels of the minor-leagues like Ceddanne Rafaela, Christian Koss, Enmanuel Valdez, Wilyer Abreu, Brandon Walter, and Thad Ward, among others.

Assuming that Paulino remains in the organization through the winter, he is projected to make the jump to High-A Greenville at the start of the 2023 minor-league season in April.

(Picture of Eddinson Paulino: Robert Simmons/RTS Photography)

Red Sox’ Miguel Bleis tabbed by MLB Pipeline as ‘Boston’s best international prospect since Rafael Devers’

On Wednesday night, MLB.com’s Jim Callis identified Miguel Bleis as the Red Sox’ best international prospect since Rafael Devers.

Bleis, 18, originally signed with the Red Sox for $1.5 million (the same amount Devers received in 2013) as a highly-touted international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in January 2021. After making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League last year, the San Pedro de Macoris native made the jump to the Florida Complex League this summer.

In 40 games with Boston’s rookie-level, Fort Myers-based affiliate, the right-handed hitting outfielder batted .301/.353/.543 with 14 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 27 RBIs, 28 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 10 walks, and 45 strikeouts over 167 plate appearances.

Among qualified FCL hitters this season, Bleis ranked seventh in batting average, 24th in on-base percentage, third in slugging percentage, fourth in OPS (.896), 12th in line-drive rate (22.3 percent) second in isolated power (.242), tied for first in speed score (9.3), and sixth in wRC+ (142), per FanGraphs.

While he was undoubtedly one of the top hitters in the lower minors this year, Bleis did struggle a bit when it came to plate discipline, as noted by Callis. In simpler terms, he only walked six percent of the time while striking out at 26.9 percent clip. He also posted the ninth-highest swinging-strike rate (33.8 percent) in the FCL.

Defensively, Bleis saw the majority of his playing time this season come in center field. The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder logged 310 1/3 innings in center and just five innings in right while recording a team-high five outfield assists.

Taking that statistic into consideration, Callis adds that Bleis should be able to stick in center on account of his arm strength. If not, he has the offensive upside and defensive profile to shift over to right.

As the 2022 FCL season drew to a close in August, the Red Sox began promoting several of their younger prospects — such as Mikey Romero and Roman Anthony — to Low-A Salem. Bleis very well could have been part of that group, but the club opted to have him stay in Fort Myers since he was dealing with some back soreness.

Back in September, Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings that had Bleis been healthy, he would have joined Anthony, Romero, and the like in Salem for the remainder of the minor-league campaign.

“He certainly would have been with that group (that was promoted to Salem),” Abraham said. “We let him know that he would have been with that group. But I think being healthy going into the offseason was the primary concern. So, he stayed in Fort Myers and made sure we got that (back issue) right and then we sent him home. There’s no doubt he had earned a promotion to Salem if not at the end of the year, earlier. He is aware of that.”

Bleis, who turns 19 in March, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He has yet to crack the publication’s top 100 list, but that could happen sooner rather than later.

Considering what Abraham already told Jennings, it seems likely that Bleis will kick off his first full professional season in Salem next spring. After all, his potential is through the roof and he has the tools to back it up.

“He has five tools. That’s the reality,” said Abraham. “You don’t see that too often. What those five tools will ultimately (become), how they will pan out, not sure. But in terms of the tools, and in terms of the ability to impact the game in various ways, he does that. 

“I think whenever you have a player who does those types of things, he’s someone you want to pay attention to and watch,” added Abraham. “Whether he’s on the bases, whether he’s in the field, whether he’s in the batter’s box, you know something special is going to happen, and I think that’s something he showed during his short time in the states.”

(Picture of Miguel Bleis: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox catching prospect Brooks Brannon shows signs of promise in pro debut

The Red Sox have selected just one natural catcher in each of the last two amateur drafts. Last year, they took Nathan Hickey in the fifth round of the University of Florida. Earlier this summer, they took Brooks Brannon in the ninth round out of Randleman High School in Randleman, N.C.

At that time, Brannon was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 155 prospect in the 2022 draft class. The 18-year-old backstop was also committed to play college baseball at the University of North Carolina in nearby Chapel Hill.

It was believed that Brannon’s commitment to the Tar Heels was a strong one. But just two days after being drafted, the North Carolina native told HighSchoolOT’s Kyle Morton that he intended to go pro and sign with the Red Sox.

“Leading up to the draft, if I could have picked any team it would have been the Red Sox,” Brannon said. “They did the best as far as establishing a relationship. … Everything is very family oriented. … The fact that they have that is huge. I’m just glad to be a part of an organization that values that like they do.”

Towards the end of July, Brannon officially signed with Boston for $712,500. To put that number into context, third-rounder Dalton Rogers received a signing bonus of $447,500, so the Sox certainly went above and beyond to secure Brannon’s services.

“We were surprised to see him get that far,” amateur scouting director Paul Toboni told MLB.com’s Julia Kreuz back in July. “We think so highly of the baseball player and the person, we were beyond thrilled to see him staring at us at that point of the draft.

Fresh off belting 20 homers and driving in 91 runs as a senior at Randleman High, Brannon made his professional debut in the Florida Complex League on August 13. The right-handed hitter appeared in just five games for the FCL Red Sox, going 6-for-13 (.462) with one double, two triples, five RBIs, six runs scored, two walks, and five strikeouts.

Though he did not go deep in his brief pro cameo, Brannon was still recently identified by Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo as the best power hitter the Red Sox drafted this year.

“While the baseline stats are nice to see, [Brannon’s] underlying exit velocity data is even more encouraging,” Collazo wrote on Monday, “with the best 90th percentile exit velocity mark (105 mph) of this Boston draft class.”

On the other side of the ball, there are questions about whether Brannon can stick behind the plate long-term. The 6-foot, 210-pounder is described by Baseball America as someone who “needs to improve his actions behind the plate as both a receiver and pitch blocker.” Although his arm strength stands out, Brannon did not throw out any of the three runners who tried to steal against him in the Florida Complex League.

“Brooks’ defensive skill set was one of the parts of his game that we were drawn to most,” Toboni said over the summer. “While he’s big and physical, he’s really flexible and athletic. He can get his body into some pretty unique positions, especially for a big, strong kid. We also think he has good hands behind the plate and an obviously strong arm. In our eyes, he possesses all the physical and mental traits to take off with professional instruction.”

Brannon, who does not turn 19 until next May, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 30 prospect in Boston’s farm system. That ranks third among backstops in the organization behind only Hickey and Connor Wong.

Given that he has just five FCL games under his belt, Brannon is expected to return to the rookie-level affiliate next summer. That being said, it would not be all that surprising if he made it up to Low-A Salem before the end of the 2023 season.

(Picture of Brooks Brannon: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox prospect Allan Castro takes another step forward in first season stateside

Allan Castro can no longer be called the reigning Red Sox Latin Program Position Player of the Year. That distinction now falls to infielder/outfielder Andy Lugo, who received the honor on Monday.

Castro, however, put together a strong first season in the United States after being named the organization’s Latin Program Position Player of the Year in 2021.

Following a 2021 campaign in which he posted a .756 OPS in the Dominican Summer League, Castro made the jump to the Florida Complex League for the start of the 2022 season. In 39 games with Boston’s rookie-level affiliate in Fort Myers, the switch-hitter slashed a respectable .279/.355/.451 with four doubles, four triples, three home runs, 17 RBIs, 19 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 13 walks, and 32 strikeouts over 141 plate appearances.

Though he may have been overshadowed by fellow outfielder Miguel Bleis, Castro still ranked 11th in batting average, 26th in on-base percentage, eighth in slugging percentage, ninth in OPS (.805), 11th in isolated power (.172), 13th in speed score (7.8), and 11th in wRC+ (122) among FCL hitters who made at least 140 trips to the plate this season, per FanGraphs.

Not long after the Florida Complex League season came to a close, Castro and several other Red Sox minor-leaguers earned a promotion to Low-A Salem. He registered just one hit in his first five games with Salem but ended the year by going 5-for-18 (.278) with a double, a triple, four RBIs, and five runs scored in his final five games.

“Castro took a significant step forward this season,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email. “He’s continued to grow and gained a lot of strength. Additionally, he found ways to make his swing more efficient and started using the whole field more often.”

Between the two affiliates, Castro logged 232 1/3 innings in left field, 84 innings in center field, and 24 innings in right field. The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder recorded four outfield assists and committed just one error all year.

“His athleticism is starting to show itself more on the field,” Romero said. “He is sort of a sleeper prospect who we expect will do more things in 2023.”

Castro, 19, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 53 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally signed the native Dominican for $100,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Santo Domingo in July 2019.

At that time, Castro was a middle infielder, but he has since made the transition to the outfield and figures to stick there moving forward. Taking into account that he does not turn 20 until next May, Castro is projected by SoxProspects.com to return to Salem for the start of the 2023 season.

(Picture of Allan Castro: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox’ Luis Perales identified by Baseball America as under-the-radar pitching prospect with great fastball

Luis Perales was recently identified by Baseball America as an under-the-radar pitching prospect with a great fastball.

Perales, 19, was one of three Red Sox prospects to make the publication’s Florida Complex League Top 10 Prospects list earlier this month. The young right-hander placed eighth after posting a 1.08 ERA and 2.31 FIP with 34 strikeouts to nine walks over nine appearances (seven starts) spanning 25 innings of work.

On August 18, Perales earned a late-season promotion to Low-A Salem. The native Venezuelan made four starts for the Salem Sox and produced a 3.38 ERA (5.44 FIP) with 16 strikeouts to 11 walks across 10 2/3 innings to close out the year.

“For us to push somebody at his age, who started off in the Dominican this year at the academy working out, to make his way to Salem is something we don’t see often,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith. “So it’s pretty special.”

The Red Sox originally signed Perales for $75,000 as an international free agent coming out of Guacara in July 2019. But he did not make his professional debut until last summer after the 2020 minor-league season was shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He then made just one start and pitched two innings in the Dominican Summer League in 2021.

“Overall, he’s so young that we’re just trying to get him consistent,” Romero said. “He’s young in age. But he also hasn’t pitched very much. So getting him mechanically consistent to let his stuff play. We know there’s velo in the fastball. The quality of the fastball is very good. It’s just one slight thing and it’s 98 and it’s moving off of the plate. So it’s just focusing on: throw the ball over the plate, work on your secondary (pitches), same thing, and then we can start refining things. But really for now, it’s keep it simple, throw the ball over the plate, let them try to hit it.”

As for what makes his fastball so great, Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes wrote, “Perales sits 94-97 mph, touching 98 mph at peak, with spin rates in the 2,400-2,500 rpm range and 19-20 inches of induced vertical break. While Perales’ strike and chase rates are just fringy, he has been able to induce whiffs on around 40% of swings this season, a number well above the minor league average. Perales’ fastball features a combination of power, movement and the ability to generate a difficult angle to the plate despite a fairly generic release. Command and strike-throwing are an issue at present, but at just 19 years old the fire-balling righthander has time to hone his craft in the coming years.”

In addition to his heater, the 6-foot-1, 160-pound righty also works with a “potentially plus breaking ball in the low-to-mid 80s and a changeup that flashes above-average” potential.

“We get caught up in attacking and game-planning for swing-and-miss. And when your stuff is that good, you don’t really need that,” said Romero. “Let the defense do some work and those swings-and-misses will come naturally in time. Just syncing up his delivery and making sure he’s in the strike zone. If he does that, he’ll be fine.”

Perales, who does not turn 20 until next April, has yet to throw more than three innings in any of his outings. The Red Sox, as noted by Romero, are exercising caution when it comes to managing his workload moving forward.

“He’s worked a decent amount of innings, just not official because they haven’t come in league play,” Romero said. “Whether it’s instructional league or winter program, he’s always built up. So he does have some innings under his belt. But when he’s done here, he’ll go into the instructional league also and work some. And then hopefully next year, we’ll see. He’ll be a very intriguing starting pitching prospect for us.”

(Picture of Luis Perales: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox outfield prospect Roman Anthony earns Florida Complex League Player of the Week honors

Red Sox outfield prospect Roman Anthony has been named Florida Complex League Player of the Week for the week of August 15-21, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

Appearing in four games for the FCL Red Sox last week, Anthony went 9-for-16 (.563) with one double, four RBIs, four runs scored, one stolen base, three walks, and zero strikeouts.

Following another multi-hit showing for Boston’s rookie-level affiliate on Monday, the left-handed hitting Anthony is now batting a stout .469/.500/.531 to go along with two doubles, six runs driven in, five runs scored, one stolen base, three walks, and three punchouts over nine games (36 plate appearances) to begin his professional career.

On the other side of the ball, Anthony has already made multiple starts at all three outfield positions. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has logged 23 innings in left field, nine innings in center field, and 13 innings in right field.

Anthony, 18, was selected by the Red Sox with the 79th overall pick in last month’s amateur draft out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Boston swayed the Florida native away from his commitment to the University of Mississippi by signing him for an over-slot $2.5 million on July 29.

Prior to the draft, Anthony was ranked by Baseball America as The No. 72 draft-eligible prospect in this year’s class. He is now regarded by the publication as the No. 21 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

“He’s a tremendous athlete. We think he’s got a really good shot of sticking in center field,” Red Sox director of amateur scouting Paul Toboni said last month. “He’s got this profile where he’s going to get on base. He sees the ball well. He’s got tremendous power potential. That’s a pretty rare combination to find for a center fielder.”

Although some evaluators believe Anthony may be better suited for an outfield corner, there is no doubt that the reigning Florida Gatorade Player of the Year is talented.

Given that he does not turn 19 until next May, it seems likely that Anthony will remain in Fort Myers through the end of the 2022 campaign. If all goes well during the winter and spring, he could be on track to make the jump to Low-A Salem for the start of his first full professional season.

(Picture of Roman Anthony: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox release Danny Santana

The Red Sox have released veteran utility man Danny Santana from his minor-league contract, per the club’s minor-league transactions log.

Santana, 31, signed a minors pact with Boston last month after serving an 80-game suspension for a positive PED test. Given that it was his first action of the season, the versatile switch-hitter reported to the Sox’ Florida Complex League affiliate in Fort Myers and batted .286/.400/.381 with two doubles, five RBIs, and three runs scored over seven games.

As noted by SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield, the Red Sox brought in Santana at a time when their depth in the upper minors was depleted due to a combination of injuries and promotions. They have since bolstered that depth in the wake of the trade deadline, making Santana obsolete in a sense.

A veteran of eight major-league seasons, Santana appeared in 38 games for Boston over the course of the 2021 campaign. The native Dominican slashed just .181/.252/.345 with five home runs, 14 RBIs, 15 runs scored, and two stolen bases, but was still included in the Sox’ ALDS and ALCS rosters on account of his speed.

Shortly before Major League Baseball owners locked out the players in early December, Santana — who had already elected free agency — tested positive for Boldenone, which resulted in an 80-game suspension being handed down to him in April.

(Picture of Danny Santana: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Red Sox first-round pick Mikey Romero hits first professional home run in seventh Florida Complex League game

Red Sox infield prospect Mikey Romero hit the first home run of his professional career in the Florida Complex League on Friday afternoon.

Batting leadoff and starting at shortstop for the FCL Red Sox in their contest against the FCL Twins at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Romero’s milestone homer came with one out in the bottom half of the ninth inning.

Trailing 4-0 at that point, Freddy Valdez drew a one-out walk off Twins reliever Cole Bellair while Luis Ravelo followed with a groundball single to put runners at the corners for Romero.

Romero, in turn, promptly cranked a three-run home run to right field to trim the deficit to 4-3. That would go on to be Friday’s final score as the FCL Red Sox dropped to 33-19 on the season.

Following Friday’s 1-for-5 performance, the left-handed hitter is now batting .200 (5-for-25)/.310/.400 with two doubles, one homer, four RBIs, three runs scored, four walks, and two strikeouts over seven games (29 plate appearances) to begin his professional career.

The Red Sox selected Romero with the 24th overall pick in last month’s amateur draft out of Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif. Originally committed to play college baseball at Louisiana State University, the 18-year-old signed with Boston on July 25 for an under-slot $2.3 million. He made his pro debut on August 9 and is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in the organization.

(Picture of Mikey Romero: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)