Former Red Sox minor-leaguers Brian Keller, Johan Mieses close to signing with NPB’s Hanshin Tigers, per report

The Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball are expected to sign a pair of former Red Sox minor-leaguers in Brian Keller and Johan Mieses, according to Yahoo! Japan (and relayed by Yakyu Cosmopolitan on Twitter).

Keller, 28, was selected by the Red Sox in the minor-league phase of last December’s Rule 5 Draft. The right-hander was originally taken by the Yankees in the 39th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He spent the first six years of his career in the New York organization and made it as far as Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before being scooped up by Boston a little more than 11 months ago.

After receiving an invite to major-league spring training, Keller broke camp with Triple-A Worcester in April. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound righty spent the entirety of the 2022 season with the WooSox and posted a 3.27 ERA and 3.76 FIP to go along with 126 strikeouts to 53 walks over 31 appearances (20 starts) spanning 113 innings of work.

Keller, who does not turn 29 until next June, operates with a five-pitch mix that consists of a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a low-70s curveball, a low-80s changeup, a cutter, and a slider. He became a minor-league free agent for the first time earlier this month. It is unclear if the Red Sox attempted to bring Keller back on another minors pact for 2023, but the native Wisconsinite will now try to make his mark overseas.

Mieses, on the other hand, first joined the Red Sox organization as a minor-league free agent in November 2019. The former Dodgers and Cardinals outfield prospect did not make his organizational debut until last May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he proved to be a solid power source over the last two years.

Appearing in 60 games for the WooSox this past season, the right-handed hitting Mieses slashed a respectable .271/.387/.536 (144 wRC+) with 15 doubles, 12 home runs, 35 RBIs, 32 runs scored, five stolen bases, 32 walks, and 60 strikeouts across 230 trips to the plate. His 31 homers since the start of the 2021 campaign rank eighth among all Red Sox minor-leaguers, per FanGraphs.

Mieses, who turned 27 in July, became a minor-league free agent like Keller five days after the World Series ended. Rather than explore other opportunities in affiliated ball, the burly slugger elected to take his talents to Japan, where he helped his native Dominican Republic win a bronze medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics.

In addition to Keller and Mieses, it also appears that Hanshin is interested in former Red Sox reliever Phillips Valdez. Valdez was claimed off waivers by the Mariners in July and was outrighted off Seattle’s 40-man roster in October. He, too, is a minor-league free agent.

(Picture of Brian Keller: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox bring back power-hitting outfielder Johan Mieses on minor-league deal for 2022 season

The Red Sox have brought back outfielder Johan Mieses on a minor-league contract for the 2022 season, according to the team’s transaction wire. It does not appear as though the deal includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Mieses, 26, originally signed a minors pact with the Sox in November 2019 after spending the first seven years of his professional career between the Dodgers and Cardinals organizations.

While unable to play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mieses did re-up with Boston that year before truly making his impact felt in 2021. After breaking camp with Double-A Portland, the right-handed hitter batted .286/.368/.714 to go along with three doubles, 11 home runs, 22 RBIs, 19 runs scored, nine walks, and 19 strikeouts across 23 games (95 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs.

On June 2, Mieses was promoted to Triple-A Worcester. He spent nearly two weeks away from the team in June for an Olympic qualifying event, then helped his native Dominican Republic win a bronze medal in the Tokyo Summer Games in August.

Upon returning to the United States, Mieses went on to play a total of 59 games with the WooSox and finished the year by slashing .211/.286/.368 with nine doubles, one triple, eight homers, 26 RBIs, 28 runs scored, three stolen bases, 22 walks, and 64 strikeouts over 230 plate appearances in those contests.

Defensively, Mieses has proven over the course of his career that he is capable of playing all three outfield positions. Last season alone, the 6-foot-2, 185 pounder logged 150 1/3 innings in left field and 230 innings in right field between Portland and Worcester.

As was the case last year, Mieses has presumably been brought back by the Red Sox to provide the club with experienced upper-minors outfield depth alongside the likes of Rob Refsnyder, Christin Stewart, and others.

Mieses, who turns 27 in July, is well-known for his slugging abilities. His .251 ISO ranked third among Red Sox minor-leaguers who accrued at least 300 plate appearances in 2021, per FanGraphs.

(Picture of Johan Mieses: Katie Morrison/MassLive)

César Puello opts out of minor-league deal with Red Sox, signs minors pact with Mets

The Red Sox have lost some upper-level minor-league outfield depth, as outfielder Cesar Puello signed a minor-league contract with the Mets on Saturday, according to Newsday’s Tim Healey.

Puello, 30, triggered the June 1 opt-out clause in his minor-league deal with the Red Sox earlier this week and was subsequently granted his release on Thursday.

The right-handed hitter struggled in his first season with Triple-A Worcester, slashing .158/.370/.184 (78 wRC+) to go along with one double, no home runs, seven RBI, six runs scored, eight walks, eight strikeouts, and six stolen bases over 15 games and 54 plate appearances.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison, Puello was also having trouble getting consistent playing time with the WooSox. Releasing him also allowed the Red Sox to promote fellow outfielder Johan Mieses from Double-A Portland to Worcester.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Puello originally inked a minor-league pact with Boston in February 2020. The 6-foot-2, 217 pounder appeared in five games for the club last September after spending the majority of the summer at the alternate training site. He was later designated and outrighted by the Sox in October before re-upping on another minors deal in December.

Before joining the Red Sox, Puello spent parts of two big-league seasons (2017, 2019) with the Angels, Rays, and Marlins.

Puello originally signed with the Mets as an international free agent out of the Dominican back in 2007 and spent the first nine years of his professional career with the organization he is now returning to. He will report to Triple-A Syracuse.

(Picture of Cesar Puello: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox promote minor-league outfielder Johan Mieses, who leads organization with 11 homers, to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have promoted minor-league outfielder Johan Mieses from Double-A Portland to Triple-A Worcester, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Mieses, who turns 26 next month, originally signed a minor-league contract with the Sox back in November 2019, but did not play at all in 2020 on account of the minor-league season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Re-upping with Boston on another minor-league pact this past fall — after not receiving an invite to the team’s alternate training site or fall instructional league — the Dominican native opened the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland and has done nothing but mash since then.

Over 23 games with the Sea Dogs, Mieses slashed .286/.368/.714 (188 wRC+) to go along with three doubles, a team-leading 11 home runs, 22 RBI, 19 runs scored, nine walks, and 19 strikeouts in 95 trips to the plate.

While primarily batting cleanup in his time in Portland, the 6-foot-2, 185 pound right-handed hitter played 11 games in right field, three games in left field, and nine games at designated hitter.

A former top prospect of the Dodgers organization who was signed out of the Dominican at 17, Mieses was part of the trade that sent infielder Breyvic Valera from the St. Louis Cardinals to Los Angeles in April 2018.

In his tenure with the Cardinals, Mieses appeared in 22 games for Triple-A Memphis across multiple stints with the affiliate during the 2019 season. In those 22 games, he hit .339/.414/.677 with six homers and 17 RBI.

Throughout his professional career, the slugging outfielder has shown a propensity for hitting home runs. That much is made evident by his 120 career homers at the minor-league level.

“It’s real power. The homers are legit,” Red Sox farm director Brian Abraham told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. “His ability to drive the baseball and overall production at the plate has been consistent all season for Portland in the middle of their lineup. We felt now was a good opportunity to challenge him at the next level.”

As he prepares to embark upon this next phase of his career with the WooSox, one has to wonder if Mieses — who will be donning the No. 40 — will be able to take advantage of the way the ball has been flying out of Polar Park so far this season.

(Picture of Johan Mieses: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Who is Johan Mieses? Red Sox minor-league outfielder currently leads Double-A Northeast with 11 homers in 22 games

When thinking about which Red Sox minor-leaguers may lead the organization in home runs slightly less than a full month into the 2021 minor-league season, one might guess it’s either one of top prospects Triston Casas or Jarren Duran, or maybe even slugging first baseman Josh Ockimey.

The truth is, neither of those three lead the Red Sox farm system in long balls to this point in the minor-league season. That honor would fall to perhaps a less recognizable name in the form of outfielder Johan Mieses.

Through 22 games with Double-A Portland this spring, Mieses is slashing .288/.374/.725 (190 wRC+) to go along with two doubles, a team-leading 11 home runs, 22 RBI, 18 runs scored, nine walks, and 17 strikeouts over 91 plate appearances.

In six games this past week alone, Mieses went 9-for-23 (.391) at the plate in the process of hitting two doubles, clubbing four home runs, collecting 10 RBI, and scoring five times to be named the Double-A Northeast League Player of the Week.

Mieses, who turns 26 next month, originally signed a minor-league deal with Boston back in November 2019 after spending the first seven years of his professional career between the Dodgers and Cardinals organizations.

While he did not spend any time at the team’s alternate training site or fall instructional league last year in the wake of the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dominican native did re-sign with the Sox in November.

A former top prospect of the Dodgers who was involved in the trade that sent infielder Breyvic Valera from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 2018, Mieses hits from the right side of the plate, throws with his right hand, and is listed at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds.

Among the top hitters in the Double-A Northeast (formerly the Eastern League), Mieses comes into play Tuesday ranking fifth in runs scored, 11th in hits (23), first in home runs, RBI, and slugging percentage, and third in OPS (1.099).

In addition to primarily batting out of the cleanup spot, Mieses has seen the majority of his playing time come in right field with some left field and designated hitter mixed in there as well.

Prior to joining the Red Sox organization two falls ago, the right-handed hitting outfielder had played 22 games at the Triple-A level while with the Cardinals in 2019. In those 22 games, he posted a .339/.414/.677 slash line with six homers and 17 RBI in 70 plate appearances.

Considering the fact that he is performing well in Double-A this season and has a solid — albeit small — track record of success at the next level, one has to wonder if Mieses could be on the verge of earning himself a promotion to Triple-A Worcester sooner rather than later.

(Picture of Johan Mieses: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)