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)