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)

Red Sox promote pitching prospect Luis Perales to Low-A Salem

With Wikelman Gonzalez and Luis Guerrero making the jump to High-A Greenville, the Red Sox have promoted pitching prospect Luis Perales from the Florida Complex League to Low-A Salem, according to SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield.

Perales, 19, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 24 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks ninth among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally signed the Venezuelan-born right-hander for $75,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Guacara in July 2019.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the 2020 minor-league season, Perales did not make his professional debut until last July. But he was limited to just two innings in his first and only start in the Dominican Summer League because of a minor arm injury.

Despite being shut down for the remainder of the 2021 campaign, Perales began the 2022 season in the rookie-level Florida Complex League. From there, the righty posted a miniscule 1.08 ERA and 2.34 FIP to go along with 34 strikeouts to nine walks over nine appearances (seven starts) spanning 25 innings of work for Boston’s Fort Myers-based affiliate.

Among FCL pitchers who have thrown at least 20 innings to this point in the year, Perales (as of Thursday morning) ranks 19th in strikeouts per nine innings (12.24), fifth in strikeout rate (36.2%), 16th in swinging strike rate (35.9%), third in batting average against (.119), fourth in WHIP (0.76), sixth in ERA, fifth in FIP, and 18th in xFIP (3.13), per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds, Perales throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s fastball that tops out at 96-98 mph, an advanced curveball that sits in the mid-70s, and a developing changeup.

On top of all that, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall recently tweeted that, according to some scouts, Perales has been the best pitcher in the FCL this year.

Perales, who does not turn 20 until next April, still has plenty of room to grow physically and developmentally. With that, if all goes well to close out this season, he will likely return to Salem next spring if he remains in the organization through the winter.

(Picture of Luis Perales: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox’ James Paxton pulled from first rehab start after facing just 2 batters due to lat tightness

UPDATE: Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including The Eagle-Tribune’s Mac Cerullo) at PNC Park on Thursday that Paxton will be seeing a doctor on Friday. The team will know more after that.

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Red Sox left-hander James Paxton began a rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League on Thursday. His first start did not last long.

Starting for the FCL Red Sox in their contest against the FCL Rays at JetBlue Park, Paxton was forced to exit after facing just two batters due to left lat (latissimus dorsi muscle on the back) tightness, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Paxton was slated to pitch three innings on Thursday afternoon. It was his first start at any level since April 6 of last year, when — as a member of the Mariners — he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery one week later.

The Red Sox, per Cotillo, are optimistic that Paxton’s latest injury is a minor one. Boston signed the 33-year-old southpaw to a unique one-year, $6 million contract last December. The deal includes a two-year, $26 million option that the club can pick up at the end of the season. If they decline it, Paxton could then exercise a $4 million player option for the 2023 campaign.

Given that he started a rehab assignment on Thursday, August 18, Paxton could have been on track to make his Red Sox debut at some point in mid-September. With this latest setback, though, it remains to be seen if the Canadian-born lefty will be able to pitch this season.

As noted by Cotillo, it is still too early to determine if Paxton will need to be shut down from throwing due to this lat injury. On their end, the Red Sox have not yet said if Paxton will return to the big-leagues as a starter or reliever.

A veteran of nine major-league seasons between the Mariners and Yankees, Paxton has traditionally been a starter throughout his career. In his lone appearance for Seattle last April, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound hurler hovered around 92-96 mph with his four-seam fastball. He also works with a curveball, cutter, and changeup.

(Picture of James Paxton: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox’ James Paxton set to begin rehab assignment in Florida Complex League on Thursday

Red Sox left-hander James Paxton will make his organizational debut when he starts a rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League on Thursday, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Paxton, per Speier, is slated to pitch three innings when the FCL Red Sox take on the FCL Rays at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. It will be his first start at any level since April 6 of last year.

Then a member of the Mariners, Paxton tore his left ulnar collateral ligament in the second inning of his start against the White Sox. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery one week later.

Boston signed the 33-year-old southpaw to a unique one-year, $6 million contract last December. The deal includes a two-year, $26 million club option that the Red Sox can pick up at the end of the season. If they decline, Paxton could then exercise a $4 million player option for the 2023 campaign.

While injuries have hindered him throughout his big-league career, Paxton has proven to be an effective starer when healthy. With the Yankees in 2019, for instance, the Canadian-born hurler posted a 3.82 ERA and 3.86 FIP with 186 strikeouts to 55 walks over 29 starts spanning 150 2/3 innings of work. He has been limited to just six outings since then because of injury.

It remains to be seen how many rehab appearances Paxton will need before he is able to join the Red Sox’ starting rotation. Last year, fellow lefty Chris Sale made five starts across three levels while rehabbing from Tommy John before making his season debut for Boston on August 14.

Using that same sort of template, Paxton could potentially be back in the majors by early September, though that is no sure thing. In the meantime, it should be interesting to see how Paxton responds as he returns to competitive action. Last April, the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder sat between 92-96 mph with his four-seam fastball. He also traditionally works with a curveball, cutter, and changeup.

When the time comes for the Red Sox to activate Paxton, they will presumably need to clear a spot on their 40-man roster since he has been on the 60-day injured list since March.

(Picture of James Paxton: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Red Sox infield prospect Johnfrank Salazar earns promotion to Low-A Salem after strong start to season in Florida Complex League

Red Sox infield prospect Johnfrank Salazar has reached base in five of his first 10 plate appearances with Low-A Salem since earning a promotion from the Florida Complex League on Tuesday.

In his first two games with Salem, Salazar has gone 2-for-7 (.286) at the plate with two singles, two walks, and three strikeouts. He has also been hit by a pitch.

At the time he was promoted earlier this week, the right-handed hitter had been batting a stout .327/.434/.446 with eight doubles, two triples, 16 RBIs, 21 runs scored, three stolen bases, 17 walks, and just nine strikeouts over 32 games (122 plate appearances) for Boston’s rookie-level affiliate in Fort Myers.

Among FCL hitters who have made at least 120 trips to the plate this season, Salazar ranks 20th in walk rate (13.9%), second in strikeout rate (7.4%), fifth in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, 13th in slugging percentage, ninth in OPS (.880), 22nd in speed score (7.3), and fourth in wRC+ (148), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Salazar’s first two starts at Low-A came at second and third base. In the FCL, the 6-foot-1, 159-pounder logged 83 1/3 innings at second, 114 2/3 innings at the hot corner, and 66 innings at shortstop. He exclusively played shortstop in the Dominican Summer League last year.

Salazar, who turned 19 last Friday, originally signed with the Red Sox for $400,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Venezuela in August 2019. The Barcelona native is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the 45th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier recently wrote that Salazar displayed “excellent plate discipline while delivering solid contact” during his time in the FCL. SoxProspects.com adds that he “needs to add significant strength,” but has also “shown some ability at the plate and a plus arm.”

It remains to be seen how well Salazar’s skillset will translate from the FCL to the Low-A level, as other prospects have struggled to make that jump in the past. Still, the success Salazar has enjoyed in the lower-minors to this point in the season is certainly noteworthy.

(Picture of Johnfrank Salazar: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox outfield prospect Miguel Bleis is currently ‘generating the most buzz’ in Boston’s farm system

It is no secret that Red Sox outfield prospect Miguel Bleis is having a strong season down in the Florida Complex League.

Following a 1-for-4 showing in Thursday’s 4-1 win over the FCL Pirates in Bradenton, the right-handed hitting Bleis is now batting .301/.353/.542 with 14 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 27 RBIs, 28 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 10 walks, and 45 strikeouts across 39 games (167 plate appearances) with Boston’s rookie-level affiliate.

Among qualified FCL hitters, Bleis ranks 11th in batting average, 33rd in on-base percentage, third in slugging percentage, fifth in OPS (.895), third in isolated power (.242), first in extra-base hits (23), and fourth in stolen bases, per MiLB.com’s leaderboards.

On the other side of the ball, Bleis made his 36th start of the season in center field on Thursday. The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder has logged 310 1/3 innings at the position while racking up five outfield assists. He also got his first taste of right field on Tuesday.

Still just 18 years old, Bleis originally signed with the Red Sox for $1.5 million as an international free-agent coming out of the Dominican Republic last January. The San Pedro de Macoris native opened the 2022 season as Boston’s 20th-ranked prospect but has since moved up to No. 6 in Baseball America’s latest rankings.

Earlier Thursday evening, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall tweeted that Bleis is “the prospect generating the most buzz in the Red Sox system right now,” citing that “his batted ball data is off the charts.”

“Multiple scouts have told me he’s easily the best player in the FCL and a true five-tool talent,” tweeted Cundall, who added that Bleis could start garnering top-100 prospect consideration as soon as this winter.

Bleis, who does not turn 19 until next March, is regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 5 prospect in the organization. The site best describes him as having “the highest upside of any Latin American prospect in the system.”

Taking into account how much success Bleis has enjoyed in his first professional season stateside, one would have to think the speedster could be on the verge of earning a late-season promotion to Low-A Salem. To say that would be exciting is an understatement.

(Picture of Miguel Bleis: Bryan Green/Flickr)