Red Sox outfield prospect Armando Sierra could prove to be underrated member of team’s 2021 international signing class

The Red Sox made a splash in the international free-agent market this winter by signing Dominican outfield prospect Miguel Bleis for $1.5 million back in January.

Appearing on the SoxProspects.com podcast with Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall in February, Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero described Bleis as a “premium centerfield talent” who has “got all five tools” in addition to “surprising power” and “an absolute hose of an arm.”

While Bleis has stolen the headlines and has already shot up the prospect charts (Boston’s No. 22 prospect according to Baseball America), there is another 17-year-old outfielder the Sox signed out of the Dominican who deserves some attention as well.

That outfield prospect’s name? Armando Sierra, who hails from the same city as fellow outfielder Gilberto Jimenez and right-hander Denyi Reyes (San Cristobal).

In his review of what the Red Sox have done thus far during the 2021 international signing period, Baseball America’s Ben Badler identified Sierra as his ‘sleeper [to] watch.’

“Armando Sierra is a corner outfielder from the Dominican Republic with a chance to hit and hit for power,” Badler wrote of the right-handed hitter last week. “He’s a physically imposing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds with an advanced approach to hitting for his age, keeping the bat head in the hitting zone for a long time that helps him drive the ball with power to all fields. He’s a limited runner whose offensive game will drive his value.” 

Sierra, who signed with the Sox for a bonus of $150,000 on January 15, does not turn 18 until next January.

“Armando was a player we scouted later on in his signing year. After scouting him a few times, he stood out for his strong frame and his power,” Romero recently told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email. “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.

“Since his signing, Sierra has lost close to 20 pounds while gaining muscle working out at our academy,” added Romero. “He continues to improve defensively and is also featuring an above average arm (which was not the case during his scouting trials).”

The young outfielder will likely begin the 2021 minor-league season with one of the Red Sox’ rookie-level, Dominican Summer League teams. In fact, as Romero indicated, he’s already training at the team’s Dominican academy in El Toro, a town just outside of Santo Domingo.

Other recent Red Sox international signees highlighted by Badler include catcher Enderso Lira, right-handers Alvaro Mejias and Jedixson Paez, and shortstops Luis Ravelo and Ahbram Liendo.

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

Red Sox have an ‘extremely exciting’ prospect in Dominican outfielder Miguel Bleis, Eddie Romero says

Last month, the Red Sox made some headlines by giving Dominican outfield prospect Miguel Bleis a signing bonus of $1.8 million, making him the highest-paid player in their 2021 international signing class thus far.

Bleis, who turns 17 in early March, was regarded by Baseball America as the 20th-ranked international prospect headed into the international signing period, which began on January 15.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, the right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing center fielder “is one of the top athletes in the 2020-21 international class.

“He has a sleek, athletic frame with high physical upside. He glides around center field with an easy gait and long strides, with average speed that might tick up as he gets stronger along with a strong arm. He has a quick bat with gap power and a chance to turn more of his doubles into home runs once he gets stronger.”

Currently listed at 6-foot-2 and and 170 lbs., Bleis had been training in the Mejia Top 10 Program in his home country, but he is currently at the Red Sox’ Dominican Academy in El Toro, a town just outside of Santo Domingo.

On Monday’s installment of the SoxProspects.com podcast with Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall, Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero spoke at length about what Bleis brings to the table.

“He’s a premium center field talent,” Romero said of one of Boston’s newest prospects. “He’s got all five tools. He runs well. He’s got an absolute hose of an arm at an early age with really good mechanics and accuracy. So we think that he can stay in the middle of the field.

“He’s got surprising power,” Romero added. “Being so young and being able to have above-average raw power is something we don’t see often for a center field player given his body type and athleticism. So, really, what we need to hone in on with him is approach. He performed well offensively in competition for us, and he’s continued to do that in the academy.”

Bleis hails from San Pedro de Marocis, a city on the Dominican’s southeastern coast that has produced the likes of Sammy Sosa, Robinson Cano, Alfonso Soriano, Fernando Tatis, and Fernando Tatis Jr., among others.

“He’s a high-character kid that is all about baseball and he’s from San Pedro,” said Romero in regards to Bleis’ roots. “They put something in the water there to create baseball players. So we hope that he can continue the lineage of talent coming out of that area. He’s extremely exciting.”

Since he is still just 16 years old, Bleis is still obviously a long ways away from cracking a major-league roster as there is plenty of room for him to develop in a variety of areas over the next several years.

The young outfielder will likely begin the 2021 minor-league season with one of the Red Sox’ rookie-level, Dominican Summer League teams. That is, if there is a DSL season this year in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re actively discussing that with MLB right now,” Romero said when asked if there would be a DSL season in 2021. “Everybody hopes that there is. It’s just pandemic-affected. We’re still working on the best way to organize that: What the structure would be, how the testing would go. And so we really want to have another platform for these guys to develop after so many of them missed the entire season last year.”

One last note on Bleis for those who enjoy prospect lists: FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen has him ranked as Boston’s No. 32 prospect going into the 2021 campaign.

Using the 20-80 scouting scale, Longenhagen grades Bleis’ current tools as follows: 20 Speed, 45 Raw Power, 20 Game Power, 50 Run, 40 Fielding, 55 Throw.

“Bleis is a righty corner outfield power projection prospect with a whippy, low-ball swing and room for about 30 pounds on his frame,” Longenhagen wrote of the speedy outfielder.

(Picture of Eddie Romero: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox reach agreement with Japanese reliever Hirokazu Sawamura on two-year deal, per report

The Red Sox have reportedly reached agreement on a two-year, major-league contract with Japanese reliever Hirokazu Sawamura, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Per Speier, who cites Japanese sports newspaper Sankei Sports, Sawamura’s deal is worth $2.4 million and could include more in additional incentives.

The veteran right-hander, who turns 33 in April, had pitched in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball Organization since 2011, most recently splitting time between the Yomiuri Giants and Chiba Lotte Marines in 2020.

To start out the campaign, Sawamura struggled with Yomiuri and put up an unsightly 6.08 ERA through his first 13 appearances and 13 1/3 innings of work on the year.

A midseason trade to Chiba Lotte turned things around for the 6-foot, 212 lb. righty, though, as he yielded just four earned runs on 10 hits, 10 walks, and 29 strikeouts over his final 22 relief outings and 21 innings pitched of 2020. That’s good for an ERA of 1.71 and WHIP of 0.95.

Sawamura has not started a game since 2015, so it seems likely that the Red Sox view him as a reliever moving forward.

Going off of that, Speier wrote: “Multiple evaluators saw Sawamura as at least a seventh-inning reliever, a pitcher who alternately dominates the strike zone with elite stuff and then loses the strike zone completely. Still, based on his peaks in the NPB, there’s a chance for an even more prominent late-innings role.”

Born in Tochigi, Japan, Sawamura’s pitch mix consists of a “high-octane fastball” that sits anywhere from 94-99 mph, “a hard swing-and-miss splitter” that sits in the low-90s, and a “below-average slider,” as noted by Speier.

Because he was an unrestricted free agent, Sawamura was not subject to the posting system between NPB and Major League Baseball. This means that the Red Sox do not have to pay Chiba Lotte a posting fee in order to acquire Sawamura’s services, which is something MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo pointed out on Sunday.

By reportedly signing Sawamura to a major-league contract, the Red Sox will have to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for the Japanese hurler. There will surely be more to come on that front.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Sports Nippon/Getty Images)

Why 2021 could prove to be pivotal year for Red Sox infield prospect Antoni Flores

In the summer of 2017, the Red Sox made infielder Antoni Flores one of their top priorities, as they signed the Venezuelan prospect for a hefty sum of $1,400,000 that July, which would go on to make him the third-highest paid international addition of that particular signing class for Boston.

Flores initially rewarded the Sox for their investment in him the following year in both the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League.

Over 15 total games and 57 total plate appearances between the two affiliates, the young infielder, primarily playing shortstop, went 18-for-53 (.340) at the plate to go along with one home run and 14 RBI.

The reason Flores only managed to play in 15 games, in 2018 was due to the fact that he missed six weeks of action from mid-June until late July due to “general soreness.”

Upon returning and getting promoted from the DSL to GCL, Flores played in just two games before pulling his hamstring in early August, which wound wind up costing him the rest of the season.

The fact Flores was able to put on an impressive showing at the Red Sox’ fall instructional league that year in the wake of suffering that hamstring injury was certainly encouraging, but more red flags arose in 2019.

Entering the year regarded by SoxProspects.com as Boston’s No. 7 prospect, Flores struggled mightily in his first exposure to non-rookie-league baseball in the United States.

Playing in 55 games for the short-season Lowell Spinners, the then-18-year-old posted a dismal .193/.293/.227 slash line over 208 plate appearances while striking out 28.4% of the time. He also committed 10 errors in 410 defensive innings at shortstop, which would signal a transition to second base.

According to SoxProspects‘ director of scouting Ian Cundall, “scouts really soured on Flores” following his first full professional season, “as he showed a poor approach and limited offensive ability while simultaneously struggling in the field.”

Unfortunately, Flores would not get the chance to bounce back in a traditional manner in 2020, as the minor-league season was cancelled in June due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, Flores, like most other Red Sox minor-leaguers, had to wait until the 2020 installment of fall instructs to try to continue on with their development.

Alas, a long break from organized baseball did the right-handed hitter no favors, as he continued to underwhelm in Fort Myers this past fall.

Per Cundall, Flores, now 20 years old, “again struggled and now seems to have moved to second base primarily. The athleticism he showed in the Fall Instructional League in 2018 is gone, and his speed has regressed to the point where he was consistently timed at 4.6 seconds down the line, which is a 20 on the 20-80 scouting scale.”

FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen added on to this, writing last month that though he wished Flores’ disappointing 2019 was more of an outlier, it may have very well been the start of a negative trend.

“Flores was generating Willy Adames comps during the Fall of 2018, and has since regressed physically and technically,” Longenhagen wrote. “He no longer looks athletically capable of playing the middle infield and has continued to struggle with the bat.”

While Longenhagen still has Flores as his No. 43 prospect in the Red Sox farm system, he notes that “he’s in danger of slipping off the list entirely next year unless he performs statistically and looks more athletic early in the year.” 

SoxProspects projects Flores, who does not turn 21 until October, will start the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Salem.

Before the 2021 season begins, though, there is still the minor-league portion of spring training — which will likely start later than usual this year — to look forward to.

Between the time fall instructs ended and the time in which minor-league spring training eventually starts up, it appears as though the Sox have given Flores some homework to do.

“Antoni has been working on his agility and quickness a lot this offseason,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero, who played a significant role in Flores signing with the organization, told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email. “He’s made a lot of strides in the past few months, so we’re looking forward to seeing him in spring training.”

On that note, 2021 could prove to be a monumental year for Flores in terms of development and career trajectory.

Not only is the 6-foot-1, 190 lb. infielder looking to buck the trend that has seen his stock take a hit in recent years, but he is also Rule 5 eligible for the first time come December.

If he were to make an impact with Salem, or whichever affiliate he played with this year, Flores could be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster if Boston believes in his potential enough to not want to see him scooped up by another club.

If Flores were not to be added, which does seem unlikely at this point given the fact that other prospects such as Jarren Duran, Jeter Downs, Thad Ward, and Gilberto Jimenez will be in need of protection, then as previously mentioned, an opposing team could pick him up if they felt he was ready to make an impact at the major-league level.

That, too, seems unlikely, but there’s a reason why Flores was once considered one of the top prospects in the Sox’ farm system. The talent is still there somewhere, and so is a relatively high ceiling given his age.

Having written all that, it’s fair to say that 2021 could be a ‘make-or-break’ type year for Flores. We will have to wait and see how he performs.

(Picture of Antoni Flores: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Right-hander Aldo Ramirez ‘most underrated’ prospect in Red Sox farm system, according to MLB front offices

In his most recent work for The Athletic, former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden writes that he reached out to all 30 major-league front offices “to  uncover the most underrated and undervalued prospects” in baseball for 2021.

By doing this, Bowden identified 30 under-the-radar prospects across the minor-leagues.

Who from the Red Sox’ minor-league pipeline made this exclusive list? None other than rising right-hander Aldo Ramirez.

“Ramirez performed well in the New York/Penn League in 2019 as an 18-year-old, as shown by his 63 strikeouts and 16 walks in 61.2 innings,” writes Bowden. “However, he was noticeably stronger this year in instructional league, with his fastball up to 96 mph with riding life. He’s a physical, athletic pitcher with a repeatable delivery and a three-pitch mix that includes a fastball, curveball and changeup. He profiles as a future mid-rotation-type starter.”

Regarded by SoxProspects.com as Boston’s No. 10 prospect (No. 5 among pitchers), Ramirez was one of the stars of the club’s fall instructional league in Fort Myers.

The 19-year-old hurler, originally signed out of the Mexican League for $550,000 in 2018, “was the consensus top pitcher at Red Sox Fall Instructs,” according to SoxProspects‘ director of scouting Ian Cundall.

“Ramirez sat 92-95 mph [with his fastball], with a potential plus changeup at 85-89 mph and average curveball at 77-81 mph,” Cundall wrote of the young righty last month. “His changeup is a potential weapon and could develop into a plus-to-better pitch given he already shows advanced feel for it and has a lot of confidence in it.”

Bowden gave the following scouting grades (20-80 scale) for each of Ramirez’s three pitches as well as his control and command:

Fastball: 60
Curveball: 55
Changeup: 50
Control: 50
Command: 45

After missing out on a minor-league season to further continue his development in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ramirez — who is listed at 6-foot, 180 lbs. — is projected to begin the 2021 campaign with Low-A Salem as a member of their starting rotation.

A starting role is one the fiery right-hander could maintain for the foreseeable future, too.

“[Ramirez] has a very good chance to remain a starter and has already shown solid strike-throwing ability,” Cundall added. “[He] was on the younger side of the arms in camp but is remarkably polished for his age and gives the Red Sox someone to dream on as a back-end starter with a chance for more given his youth and constantly improving stuff.” 

(Photo of Aldo Ramirez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox’ Chaim Bloom on pursuing international free agents posted from Japan, South Korea: ‘That’s a market we need to involve ourselves in just like any other’

While exploring options to improve their roster this offseason, the Red Sox have looked towards the international market for potential additions.

So far, the Sox have been in on the likes of Japanese right-hander Kohei Arihara and Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim, both of whom recently signed with other clubs in the Rangers and Padres.

That being said, Boston, by all accounts, is still in pursuit of another free-agent hurler out of Japan in Tomoyuki Sugano, a two-time winner of the Sawamura Award (Japan’s equivalent to the Cy Young Award) who was posted by the NPB’s Yomiuri Giants earlier this month.

Appearing on WEEI earlier Wednesday afternoon, Red Sox chief baseball officer addressed his club’s interest in the 31-year-old righty.

“I think it’s more difficult in a sense than it is with a pitcher who has pitched a lot domestically, where you just have more information,” Bloom said when asked about evaluating an international talent such as Sugano. “But, that doesn’t necessarily mean a pitcher from that market is an unwise investment. I think… there’s a lot more unknowns when you’re bringing someone over to compete in a different league, on a different schedule than they’re used to competing. But, baseball’s baseball. We have a number of examples, including in this organization, of guys coming from that market and having success. I think we have, as an industry, a decent ability to predict how they’ll do. So, that’s a market I think we need to involve ourselves in just like any other.”

Going back to Arihara and Kim, Bloom emphasized that while recruiting the pair of international sensations was important, there were other factors out of the team’s control to consider as well.

“I think with some of these other guys, [recruiting] is still part of what you do,” he said. “You want to put your best foot forward. You want to engage with the player to the extent that you can through the process and get to know them. I think there’s a little less of that now, obviously because it can’t happen in person, but it’s still something you do with those guys.

“But, I think to different degrees with different players, the money is obviously going to be a huge factor,” Bloom added. “And I don’t blame the players for that. Obviously, they want to make sure they’re comfortable with there they go — and that is a factor in some cases — but you also never know how many chances you’re going to have to set yourself up financially. And they’re right to care about that as well.”

Neither Arihara, who at 28 signed a two-year, $6.2 million deal with Texas, nor Kim, who at 25 reportedly signed a four-year, $25 million deal with San Diego, received too large of a payday. As previously alluded to, that would make it seem as though both players had other priorities in mind when deciding which major-league club to sign with.

“I think in different situations, you will sometimes see — especially when the money amount is smaller — there are other factors that come into play more,” stated the Sox’ CBO. “Players will sometimes pick teams, pick from similar offers based on certain other factors that are important to them. Whenever we’re involved in that type of situation, we want to put our best foot forward and make sure that we can show a player how we can appeal to them. But, people are different and everybody’s got different things that they like and value. Money’s part of that and sometimes there are other factors that are part of that.

“I think historically, there’s a certain type of player that draws to Boston, and there’s certain types of players that would rather play elsewhere,” Bloom said. “This place is not for everybody, and you want to make sure that the players we’re bringing here in those circumstances are guys that are going to thrive playing here and really want to be here.”

So, if Sugano is indeed someone who Bloom and Co. believe fits the above criteria and really wants to play in Boston, the Red Sox have until 5 p.m. eastern time on January 7 to sign him.

ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel predicted earlier this month that a two-year, $24 million deal could be enough for a team to land the veteran right-hander’s services. We will have to wait and see on that, but January 7 is approaching rather quickly.

Red Sox one of several teams interested in signing Korean sensation Ha-Seong Kim, per report

The Red Sox are reportedly one of several teams that are interested in signing free-agent Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim, according to ESPN’s Daniel Kim.

Per ESPN’s Kim, “Kim has several MLB offers in the five-plus year range.”

Kim, 25, has has yet to play at the major-league level, but has proven to be one of the more impressive players in the Korean Baseball Organization over the past seven seasons.

Going back to 2014, the South Korean-born, right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing infielder owns a career slash line of .294/.373/.493 to go along with 133 home runs, 575 RBI, and 134 stolen bases over 891 total games between the Nexen Heroes and Kiwoom Heroes.

He has also proven to be one of the better defensive shortstops in the KBO in recent years, picking up a pair of Gold Glove awards for his efforts at short in 2018 and 2019.

Kiwoom officially posted Kim on December 7, giving major-league clubs until the first of January to acquire his services.

Depending on how much Kim signs for, that club will owe Kiwoom 20% of the contract’s first $25 million in value, 17.5% of the next $25 million, and 15% of anything beyond the $50 million threshold, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors‘ Mark Polishuk.

MLBTR predicts that Kim will land a five-year deal worth somewhere around $40 million with whichever club he signs with. They also had him as their seventh-ranked free agent at the onset of the offseason.

All this being said, the Red Sox should be players for Kim, but only if they can convince him to move to second base, a position he has very little experience at, on a (just about) full-time basis.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier observed earlier this month that as a five-star phenom in Korea, Kim’s “age and performance would fit the Sox’ vision of upgrading their long-term talent base” — but only if he is open to playing second.

“In all likelihood, [Kim’s] the only open-market second base option this winter for whom the Sox would consider a deal of more than two years,” Speier wrote.

This may be the case because the Red Sox are coming off a season in which their second basemen struggled mightily, as has seemingly been the case the past few years.

Among American League teams in 2020, Red Sox second basemen ranked 14th in on-base (.273) and slugging percentage (.313), and 15th in OPS (.586) and wRC+ (55).

Those are truly dismal numbers from one position group, and they will likely need to improve if Boston intends on not being one of the worst team in baseball for a second consecutive year in 2021.

Identifying second base as a potential area of weakness headed into the spring, how do Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. go about addressing that area in order to improve their squad?

Well, besides the trade market, free agency is always an option, too. And Kim — at the ripe age of 25 years old, just entering his prime — might just be the best infielder not named D.J. LeMahieu available to sign at the moment.

“The international market is an intriguing one and a good one,” Sox manager Alex Cora said of international free agents such as Kim during his virtual winter meetings media availability last week. “Like the rest of the big-league organizations, everybody’s paying attention and doing their homework.

“They’re very talented, they’re guys that can impact the game sooner rather than later,” added Cora. “It will be interesting how it moves in the upcoming days or weeks. These guys, throughout their careers, they’ve been very solid, very consistent, and that’s something that intrigues not only the Red Sox, but the rest of the organizations at the big-league level.”

Fall instructs allowed Red Sox prospect Chih-Jung Liu to get ‘into more of a professional routine,’ Ben Crockett says

Chih-Jung Liu’s first exposure to professional baseball in the United States has been hindered by unprecedented circumstances.

The 21-year-old right-handed pitching prospect was originally signed by the Red Sox out of Taiwan for $750,000 last October, and the 2020 season was supposed to serve as his springboard into the organization

Instead, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused plans to change in a variety of ways, as Liu had to quarantine in his Fort Myers hotel room upon arriving from Taipei for spring training in late February.

While the pandemic continued to roll on in the United States as the calendars flipped to March, Major League Baseball was eventually forced to shut down all spring training camps on March 12.

With the majority of players returning to their homes as a result of that decision, Liu, too, decided to go back to Taiwan so he could work out in a familiar environment given all the uncertainties the U.S. was facing at that time.

Liu would remain in his home country until late September, when he made the trek back to Florida after receiving an invitation to participate in the Red Sox’ fall instructional league.

Once fall instructs began the following week, the Red Sox finally had the chance to see what exactly Liu brought to the table over an extended period of time.

Based off what vice president of player development Ben Crockett told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings, the club was quite impressed with what they saw from the right-hander.

“He was in spring training for such a short period of time,” Crockett said of Liu. “[It was] great to actually see him. [He was] really interesting. Showed good stuff. Good fastball with carry. Showed pitch-ability. Showed an ability to use multiple pitches that will ultimately help him. It was definitely nice to kind of get him into more of a professional routine.”

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 18 prospect, the 6-foot, 180 lb. hurler operates with a three-pitch mix that includes a 92-96 mph that can top out at 98 mph, an 86-88 mph slider, and a low-80s changeup “with some fade,” per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Because so little has been seen of him to this point, it’s difficult to project what Lui’s 2021 season will look like in terms of which minor-league level he starts at.

Wherever he does start out next spring, Liu does figure to work as a starting pitcher for the time being despite the fact he was a two-way player in high school and excelled as a switch-hitting infielder in college while taking a two-year break from pitching.

(Top photo of Liu: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospect Brainer Bonaci ‘showed a solid blend of instincts and physical ability’ at fall instructs

Brainer Bonaci has been a professional baseball player for just over two years and he doesn’t turn 19 years old until next July, but he is already looking like one of the more exciting young infielders in the Red Sox’ minor-league pipeline.

The 18-year-old shortstop is coming off an impressive showing at the Sox’ fall instructional league in Fort Myers. According to SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall, Bonaci “looked the best of the young shortstops [at fall instructs] and showed a solid blend of instincts and physical ability. He has a plus arm and both his glove and hit tool showed average potential.”

Signed out of Venezuela by Manny Padron and Eddie Romero for $290,000 on his 16th birthday in 2018, Bonaci is starting to get some legitimate attention thanks to what he did this fall.

Had there been a minor-league season in 2020, Bonaci likely would have began the year with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox. Instead, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he was limited in what he could do until October, when fall instructs began.

In his only organized action as a minor-leaguer thus far, the 5-foot-10 switch-hitter posted a solid .279/.356/.379 slash line (111 wRC+) to go along with three home runs, 37 RBI, and 18 stolen bases over 61 games played for the Dominican Summer League Red Sox last year.

Because he is still only 18 years old, Bonaci still has plenty of room to grow physically and developmentally. That said, there’s still reason to be excited about his potential, and SoxProspects’ latest prospect rankings reflect that.

Yes, Bonaci is now the No. 14 prospect in Boston’s farm system according to SoxProspects, good for the fifth highest ranking among infielders after Triston Casas, Jeter Downs, Bobby Dalbec, and Nick Yorke.

Going back to April 1, Bonaci was regarded by SoxProspects as the club’s 20th-ranked prospect, so it is clear he is trending in the right direction. And with Dalbec set to graduate from his prospect status next season, it’s safe to assume Bonaci will only continue to rise through the prospect ranks in 2021.

If we look even further ahead, Bonaci will become Rule 5 eligible for the first time in late 2022, so it’s not like he is too far out from garnering 40-man roster consideration as his development continues.

Red Sox Prospects: The Ultimate Top 30 Rankings for 2020

You ever visit those fantasy sports sites like ESPN or FantasyPros and notice how they compile their rankings into one elaborate chart that curates information from multiple sources/analysts? Well, I decided to do that with the top 30 prospects in the Red Sox farm system.

There might not even be any minor-league baseball played this year due to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, but I thought it would nonetheless be interesting to compare how different sites–MLB Pipeline, SoxProspects, and FanGraphs–view the top talent that Boston has to offer at the minor-league level.

The following Red Sox prospects were ranked by one of the aforementioned three sites, but not the other two: SS Ceddanne Rafaela, 1B Pedro Castellanos, OF Bryan Gonzalez, OF Eduardo Lopez, OF Juan Chacon, and C Naysbel Marcano.

Prospects Danny Diaz and Tyler Esplin, meanwhile, were ranked by two of the aforementioned sites and left off by the other. They made the list.

Prospect MLB Pipeline SoxProspects FanGraphs Average
IF Jeter Downs 1 2 1 1.33
1B/3B Triston Casas 2 1 2 1.67
RHP Bryan Mata 4 3 3 3.33
1B/3B Bobby Dalbec 3 6 4 4.33
OF Gilberto Jimenez 5 5 6 5.33
RHP Noah Song 6 9 5 6.67
OF Jarren Duran 8 7 10 8.33
LHP Jay Groome 7 4 15 8.67
RHP Tanner Houck 10 8 9 9
RHP Thad Ward 9 11 11 10.33
SS Matthew Lugo 11 15 7 11
OF Nick Decker 12 17 14 14.33
IF Cameron Cannon 17 18 8 14.33
IF C.J. Chatham 13 10 21 14.67
C/IF Connor Wong 16 12 16 14.67
RHP Brayan Bello 18 19 12 16.33
IF Brainer Bonaci 14 20 18 17.33
RHP Chih-Jung Liu 15 27 13 18.33
SS Antoni Flores 19 21 17 19
LHP Chris Murphy 20 16 23 19.67
RHP Ryan Zeferjahn 22 13 29 21.33
3B Brandon Howlett 23 25 20 22.67
OF Marcus Wilson 21 23 25 23
RHP Aldo Ramirez 27 14 31 24
IF Jonathan Arauz 30 28 22 26.67
RHP Durbin Feltman 25 29 28 27.33
IF Danny Diaz 24 32 NR 28
RHP Andrew Politi 26 37 27 30
LHP Yoan Aybar 29 31 34 31.33
OF Tyler Esplin 28 60 NR 44

So, to boil it all down, here’s a more simplified top-30 list based off the math you see in the chart above.

  1. IF Jeter Downs
  2. 1B/3B Triston Casas
  3. RHP Bryan Mata
  4. 1B/3B Bobby Dalbec
  5. OF Gilberto Jimenez
  6. RHP Noah Song
  7. OF Jarren Duran
  8. LHP Jay Groome
  9. RHP Tanner Houck
  10. RHP Thad Ward
  11. SS Matthew Lugo
  12. OF Nick Decker
  13. IF Cameron Cannon
  14. IF C.J. Chatham
  15. C/IF Connor Wong
  16. RHP Brayan Bello
  17. IF Brainer Bonaci
  18. RHP Chih-Jung Liu
  19. SS Antoni Flores
  20. LHP Chris Murphy
  21. RHP Ryan Zeferjahn
  22. 3B Brandon Howlett
  23. OF Marcus Wilson
  24. RHP Aldo Ramirez
  25. IF Jonathan Arauz
  26. RHP Durbin Feltman
  27. IF Danny Diaz
  28. RHP Andrew Politi
  29. LHP Yoan Aybar
  30. OF Tyler Esplin

In total, 26 of the above 30 players were either drafted or signed by the Red Sox, while three were traded for, and one was acquired in the Rule 5 Draft.

For more in-depth analysis, information, and scouting reports on these prospects and even more players, check out one of the sites I used for this piece in SoxProspects.com. Those guys do a great job in covering the Red Sox farm system. You can even read more abut them and how they got their start here.