The Red Sox’ farm system is currently chock-full of talented, young infielders like Triston Casas, Nick Yorke, Marcelo Mayer, and Blaze Jordan, just to name a few. While those four represent some of the top prospects in the organization, fellow infielder Karson Simas should not be overlooked even if he is not part of that prestigious group.
The son of former big-league pitcher Bill Simas, Karson was originally selected by the Sox in the 25th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Clovis West High School in Fresno, Calif.
At that time, Simas was committed to play college baseball where his father had at Fresno City College. He instead elected to go pro and signed with Boston for an over-slot $125,000 that July.
Red Sox area scout Josh Labanderia — a California native and former major-leaguer himself — was responsible for signing Simas. In an appearance on Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast last August, Labandeira explained how he was first drawn to Simas as a high school prospect.
“He was a slender-bodied, slick-fielding shortstop that I thought had some projection left,” Labandeira said. “I felt like he was going to get to an average capability with the bat, but be lighter on the power. Maybe not an everyday type-profile, but profiles as a solid utility type player. Maybe like a Jay Bell. He kind of had a Jay Bell build from back in the day with the Pirates.
“I felt like he’s going to fill out into his frame,” added Labandeira. “He ran well and he was always just a really smooth defender. Growing up in the clubhouse with dad, being around the ballpark, his mind worked a little bit different. The game came to him a little bit easier. I really enjoyed watching him play and felt like he had a lot of upside.
“Karson was a guy that was kind of under-the-radar,” he continued. “Not many scouts knew about him except a handful of guys. I had been working him out in the summers and he’d come and hit with me a couple times and take groundballs. His development kept progressing in the right direction, and I knew he didn’t want to go to college, which was another factor that helped out being able to sign him where we did. But, I just felt like he had a lot of projection left. He was just lacking some strength and once that strength would come on, he would turn into the type of player I envisioned.”
After signing with the Sox as an 18-year-old fresh out of high school, Simas made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League on July 27, though he appeared in just 11 games before the 2019 minor-league season ended.
Because the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out Minor League Baseball in 2020, Simas had his first full season in pro ball effectively taken away from him. He did not receive an invite to the Red Sox’ alternate training site that summer, nor did he participate in fall instructs in Fort Myers.
Still Simas entered the following spring looking to finally get a full season of baseball under his belt. Once extended spring training came to a close in June, the 20-year-old spent the remainder of the 2021 season in the rookie-level Florida Complex League.
With the Sox’ FCL affiliate, Simas batted a stout .310/.381/.460 to go along with six doubles, two triples, one home run, 18 RBIs, 17 runs scored, four stolen bases, eight walks, and 22 strikeouts over 30 games spanning 98 plate appearances. The right-handed hitter surprisingly fared better against righties (.889 OPS in 68 PAs) than he did lefties (.729 OPS in 30 PAs).
Among all Florida Complex League hitters who made at least 90 trips to the plate last year, Simas ranked 18th in batting average, 36th in on-base percentage, 34th in slugging percentage, 32nd in OPS (.841), 17th in speed score (8.6), and 30th in wRC+ (126), per FanGraphs.
Defensively, Simas proved in 2021 that he is more than just a shortstop. In addition to logging 56 1/3 innings at short, the 6-foot-6, 175 pounder logged one inning at first base, 138 1/3 innings at second base, seven innings at third base, and even one inning in left field.
As for how evaluators feel about Simas’ defense, SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall wrote over the summer that “scout feedback on his glove has been very encouraging.” Cundall also noted that Simas “has a good approach and his swing works, but scouts doubt he will hit for much power.”
Simas, who turns 21 in June, is not regarded by any major publication as one of the top prospects in the Red Sox’ farm system. He is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 minor-league season with Low-A Salem and is presumably preparing for the upcoming campaign in Fort Myers as we speak.
(Picture of Karson Simas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)