How did contingent of Red Sox prospects perform in Arizona Fall League this year?

The 2022 Arizona Fall League season came to a close over the weekend, as the Surprise Saguaros defeated the Glendale Desert Dogs by a final score of 7-6 in Saturday’s championship game at Scottsdale Stadium.

Orioles prospect Heston Kjerstad was named the league’s Most Valuable Player while Cardinals lefty Connor Thomas was named Pitcher of the Year. Colorado’s Zac Veen earned Offensive Player of the Year honors, Tampa Bay’s Evan Reifert was named Reliever of the Year, Minnesota’s Edouard Julien was named Breakout Player of the Year, San Francisco’s Luis Matos was named Defensive Player of the Year, and Oakland’s Lawrence Butler received the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award.

The Red Sox sent eight of their own minor-leaguers to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions, who at 13-16 finished 1 1/2 games back of a playoff spot, this fall. Although none of these players were recognized in postseason award distribution, some certainly fared better than others.

Here is a rundown of how each of these eight prospects performed over the last six-plus weeks, starting with the four pitchers who made the trek out west:

Aaron Perry, RHP

Perry, 23, made 10 relief appearances for the Scorpions. The right-hander posted a 12.46 ERA and 2.86 WHIP with four strikeouts to 10 walks over 8 2/3 innings of work. Opponents batted .395 off him.

Boston originally selected Perry in the 14th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Hurricane High School in West Virginia. Since then, the righty has been limited to 47 2/3 minor-league innings due to a number of injuries. He appeared in just three games for High-A Greenville this year.

Thad Ward, RHP

Ward, 25, made four appearances — three of which were starts — for Scottsdale. The righty suffered a left oblique strain after his second start of the fall on October 10 and was sidelined for nearly a month as a result. He returned in time to pitch in two more games and wound up posting a 2.84 ERA and 1.34 WHIP with 15 strikeouts to six walks over 12 2/3 innings of work. Opponents batted .234 off him.

Currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 25 prospect in Boston’s farm system, Ward was limited to 13 minor-league starts this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last June. The former fifth-round selection out of the University of Central Florida can become eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft if the Red Sox do not add him to their 40-man roster on Tuesday.

Jacob Webb, RHP

Webb, 23, finished in a two-way tie for the team lead in saves (3) this fall. The hard-throwing righty pitched to a 3.60 ERA and 1.30 WHIP to go along with 12 strikeouts to five walks over nine relief appearances spanning 10 innings of work. Opposing hitters batted .222 (8-for-36) off him.

The Red Sox took Webb in the 14th round of last year’s draft out of Miami University of Ohio. The 6-foot-5, 246-pound hurler pitched at three different levels this season and ended the year at Double-A Portland. He possesses a three-pitch mix that consists of a high-90s fastball, a mid-80s slider, and a high-80s changeup.

Ryan Zeferjahn, RHP

Zeferjahn, 24, primarily came out of the bullpen for Scottsdale, but he also made one start. In nine total appearances, the right-hander produced a 4.80 ERA and 1.27 WHIP with 18 strikeouts to eight walks over 15 innings of work. He limited opposing hitters to a .208 batting average against.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 209 pounds, Zeferjahn spent the majority of the 2022 minor-league season with Greenville before being promoted to Portland in late August. The former third-round pick out of the University of Kansas posted a 5.05 ERA between the two levels and, like Ward, is Rule 5 eligible this winter.

Moving on the four position players that made up this eight-man contingent…

Wilyer Abreu, OF

Abreu, 23, was one of two prospects the Red Sox acquired from the Astros in the Christian Vazquez trade. The left-handed hitter went just 9-for-54 (.167) with two doubles, 10 RBIs, eight runs scored, three stolen bases, 10 walks, and 18 strikeouts in 17 games for the Scorpions this fall. He made four appearances in left field and eight appearances in right.

After closing out the minor-league season with Portland, Abreu is another minor-leaguer who can become eligible for next month’s Rule 5 Draft if he is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Tuesday. The native Venezuelan does offer intriguing speed and possesses the ability to get on base at a respectable clip, so he has that going for him.

Niko Kavadas, 1B

Kavadas, 24, split time at first base with San Francisco’s Logan Wyatt and Atlanta’s Cade Bunnell. The left-handed hitting slugger slashed .239/.417/.435 with three doubles, two homers, six runs driven in, seven runs scored, 13 walks, and 24 strikeouts in 15 games (60 plate appearances) with the Scorpions.

The Red Sox originally selected Kavadas in the 11th round of the 2021 amateur draft out of The University of Notre Dame. The Indiana native earned Minor League Offensive Player of the Year honors in his first full professional season. He is currently regarded by Baseball America as the 30th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Stephen Scott, C

Scott, 25, was one of two Red Sox minor-leaguers to make it to this year’s AFL Fall Stars Game. The left-handed hitter also took part in the league’s first-ever home run derby in the process of batting .298/.394/.614 with one double, one triple, five home runs, 16 RBIs, 15 runs scored, one stolen base, nine walks, and 11 strikeouts across 15 games (66 plate appearances) this fall. He started 13 games at catcher and threw out four of 22 base stealers en route to being named to the 2022 All-Arizona Fall League Team.

A former 10th-round pick in 2019 out of Vanderbilt University who was signed as an outfielder, Scott has since emerged as a full-time backstop. The 5-foot-11, 207-pound North Carolina native split the 2022 campaign between Greenville and Portland. He is a candidate to be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster on Tuesday given his upcoming Rule 5 eligibility.

Nick Yorke, 2B

Yorke, 20, played in last week’s Fall Stars Game alongside Scott. Before that, the right-handed hitting infielder missed some time with left wrist soreness. But he wound up batting a stout .342/.424/.526 with eight doubles, two home runs, 18 RBIs, 18 runs scored, one stolen base, 12 walks, and 16 strikeouts over 19 games (92 plate appearances) with the Scorpions.

It was a down year for Yorke offensively, as he posted a .668 OPS in Greenville after being named the Red Sox’ Minor League Offensive Player of the Year in 2021. Perhaps what he just did in Arizona is a positive sign of what is to come. The 2020 first-round pick is still regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is projected to be on Portland’s Opening Day roster next spring.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Niko Kavadas ending Arizona Fall League stint on strong note

He may not have represented the Red Sox in Sunday’s Fall Stars Game like teammates Stephen Scott and Nick Yorke, but Niko Kavadas is still coming off an impressive week in the Arizona Fall League.

Kavadas was named to Baseball America’s latest AFL Hot Sheet on Monday after going 3-for-10 (.300) with one double, two home runs, four RBIs, three runs scored, and one walk in his last two games with the Scottsdale Scorpions.

On the 2022 Arizona Fall League season as a whole, Kavadas has batted .256/.442/.487 with three doubles, those two homers, five runs driven in, seven runs scored, 12 walks, and 21 strikeouts across 13 games (52 plate appearances) for Scottsdale.

Due to the relatively low number of plate appearances, the left-handed hitting slugger does not qualify as a league leader. But he would own the 11th-highest on-base percentage, 19th highest slugging percentage, the 16th-highest OPS (.929), the fourth-highest walk rate (23.1 percent), and the 11th-highest isolated power mark (.231) if he did.

Defensively, Kavadas has seen all his playing time with the Scorpions come at first base. The 6-foot-1, 235-pounder has committed just two errors while logging 102 innings at his primary position. He has shared first-base duties with Giants prospect Logan Wyatt.

Kavadas, 24, is just weeks removed from earning 2022 Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year honors after a promising first full season in pro ball. The 2021 11th-round draft pick out of Notre Dame slashed .280/.443/.547 with 26 home runs and 86 RBIs in 120 games (515 plate appearances) between Low-A Salem, High-A Greenville, and Double-A Portland.

After effectively tearing the cover off the ball at the Class-A level, Kavadas earned a late-season promotion to Portland in mid-August. That is where things started to get a bit tougher for the Indiana native, as he hit just .222 (18-for-81) with five extra-base hits in 24 games with the Sea Dogs to close out the year.

While his strikeout rate increased rapidly after making the jump from Greenville to Portland, Kavadas still managed to get on base at a respectable rate thanks to ball four. Among the 205 Eastern League hitters who made at least 100 trips to the plate this season, Kavadas posted the 16th-highest walk rate (16.0 percent) and 31st-highest on-base percentage (.370), per FanGraphs.

As the Arizona Fall League season comes to a close later this week, Kavadas finds himself currently ranked by Baseball America as the No. 30 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is expected to return to Portland for the start of the 2023 minor-league season next April.

If things go according to plan, these past few weeks will have served as a proper adjustment period for Kavadas as he looks to continue to improve against more advanced pitching and the challenges it brings.

(Picture of Niko Kavadas: Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox announce winners of 2022 minor-league awards: Niko Kavadas, Brayan Bello, Ceddanne Rafaela all recognized

First baseman Niko Kavadas has been named the Red Sox’ 2022 Minor League Offensive Player of the Year, the club announced Monday.

In 120 games between Low-A Salem, High-A Greenville, and Double-A Portland this season, the left-handed hitting Kavadas batted .280/.443/.547 (170 wRC+) with 25 doubles, one triple, 26 home runs, 86 RBIs, 71 runs scored, one stolen base, 102 walks, and 152 strikeouts over 515 plate appearances.

Among qualified Red Sox minor-leaguers, Kavadas ranks second in home runs, second in RBIs, first in walks, second in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in OPS (.990), second in isolated power (.267), and first in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Kavadas, who turns 24 next month, was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 11th round of last year’s draft out of the University of Notre Dame. He is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 30 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

For a second consecutive season, Brayan Bello has been named the Red Sox’ Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Bello, 23, posted a 2.33 ERA in 15 appearances (14 starts) and 85 innings pitched between Portland and Triple-A Worcester before making his major-league debut in early July.

The Dominican-born right-hander has since pitched to a 4.39 ERA and 2.97 FIP in 12 outings (10 starts) spanning 53 1/3 innings of work with Boston. That includes a 1.65 ERA and 2.72 FIP with 27 strikeouts to 10 walks in his last five starts (27 1/3 innings) dating back to the beginning of September. Since Bello surpassed the 50-inning mark on Sunday, he has technically graduated from his prospect status.

Like Bello, the versatile Ceddanne Rafaela was also named the Red Sox’ Minor League Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. The 22-year-old broke out in a big way in 2022 and is now considered a top-100 prospect in all of baseball.

In 116 games between Greenville and Portland this season, Rafaela saw playing time at second base, shortstop, and center field and proved capable of making highlight plays at each position. He was named Baseball America’s 2022 Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year last week.

“I truly believe this: You put him in the big leagues right now, he wins the Gold Glove as an outfielder,” Red Sox infield coordinator Darren Fenster told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier recently. “He’s not there yet as an infielder, but talent-wise and with some more reps and some more polish, he has Gold Glove potential as a shortstop as well. It’s wild the talent that this kid has.”

Speaking of speedy prospects, David Hamilton has been named the Red Sox’ Baserunner of the Year. Acquired from the Brewers in the December trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee and Jackie Bradley Jr. to Boston, Hamilton stole 70 bases in 119 games with Portland this season. The 24-year-old’s 70 steals set a new franchise record for Portland and were tied for third most in the minors.

Franklin German, who began the season with Hamilton in Portland, has been named the organization’s Relief Pitcher of the Year. The 25-year-old righty posted a 2.72 ERA and 3.04 FIP with 64 strikeouts to 19 walks over 43 relief appearances (49 2/3 innings) between Portland and Worcester, prompting a big-league call-up earlier this month.

Fellow reliever Zack Kelly was the recipient of the Lou Gorman Award, given annually to “a Red Sox minor-league player who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the Major League team.” Since being recalled on August 29, Kelly has allowed just three runs over 9 2/3 innings.

Finally, infielder/outfielder Andy Lugo and right-hander Eybersson Polanco have been named the Latin Program Position Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.

Lugo, 18, batted .318/.368/.414 (114 wRC+) while leading the Dominican Summer League Red Sox Blue in total bases (91) and stolen bases (21). Polanco, 19, produced a 1.78 ERA and 2.96 FIP in 12 starts (50 2/3 innings) for the Dominican Summer League Red Sox Red. The right-hander held opponents to a .179 batting average against and did not give up a single home run.

Each of these eight award winners were selected by the Red Sox baseball operations department and minor-league roving instructors. The recipients will be honored during a pre-game ceremony at Fenway Park prior to Monday’s series opener against the Orioles.

(Picture of Niko Kavadas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Nick Yorke headlines group of 8 Red Sox prospects who will play in Arizona Fall League

For the second consecutive year, the Red Sox will send eight prospects to play in the Arizona Fall League next month.

Catcher Stephen Scott, first baseman Niko Kavadas, second baseman Nick Yorke, outfielder Wilyer Abreu, and right-handers Thaddeus Ward, Aaron Perry, Jacob Webb, and Ryan Zeferjahn will join fellow minor-leaguers from the Braves, Orioles, Angels, and Giants organizations in suiting up for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Of the eight, Yorke (No. 4), Abreu (No. 22), Ward (No. 25), and Kavadas (No. 30) all crack Baseball America’s Top 30 Red Sox prospects list. Abreu, Perry, Ward, and Zeferjahn can all become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft at the end of the year as well.

Yorke, Boston’s top pick in the 2020 draft, had a tough season at High-A Greenville. Limited to just 80 games due to a number of injuries (including turf toe, back stiffness, and left wrist soreness), the right-handed hitting 20-year-old batted .231/.303/.365 (84 wRC+) with 10 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 45 RBIs, 48 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 33 walks, and 94 strikeouts over 373 plate appearances. If there’s any consolation, he did hit .320 with a 148 wRC+ in the month of September.

Abreu, one of two prospects acquired from the Astros in last month’s Christian Vazquez, has been on an absolute tear with Double-A Portland. Going back to the start of September, the left-handed hitting 23-year-old has slashed .300/.492/.550 (184 wRC+) with one double, three home runs, 11 RBIs, 10 runs scored, six stolen bases, 17 walks, and 13 strikeouts in his last 13 games (59 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs. He has also played all three outfield positions.

Ward, 25, is regarded by Baseball America as the ninth-ranked pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Florida-born right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery last June and has been limited to just 51 1/3 innings this season as a result.

Since making the jump from Greenville to Portland in early August, Ward has posted a 2.43 ERA and 3.57 FIP to go along with 41 strikeouts to 14 walks over seven starts spanning 33 1/3 innings of work for the Sea Dogs. He was placed on the 7-day injured list on Wednesday because of back stiffness but is not expected to be sidelined for long, according to SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield.

Kavadas, who turns 24 next month, was selected by the Red Sox in the 11th round of last year’s draft out of the University of Notre Dame. In his first full professional season, the burly left-handed hitter has made it all the way to Portland after batting a combined .295/.460/.603 (186 wRC+) with 24 home runs and 76 RBIs in 96 games (415 plate appearances) between Low-A Salem and Greenville.

Though his production has dipped with the Sea Dogs (117 wRC+ in 22 games), Kavadas still represents one of the more intriguing prospects in the Red Sox farm system given his power potential and plate discipline.

As for the other four prospects Boston will be sending out west, Scott was originally drafted as an outfielder out of Vanderbilt University in 2019 but has since become a full-time catcher. The 25-year-old has thrown out 23 of 83 base stealers between Greenville and Portland this season.

Perry, 23, made just three relief appearances for the Drive this season and did not allow a run over three innings. Webb, also 23, was recently promoted to Portland after pitching to a 3.72 ERA (3.24 FIP) in Greenville. Zeferjahn, 24, has yielded just one run in his first five relief outings with the Sea Dogs after being promoted in late August.

The 2022 Arizona Fall League season kicks off on Monday, October 3 and concludes with the AFL Championship Game on Saturday, November 12. The Scorpions will play their home games at Scottsdale Stadium.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox promote 2021 draft picks Nathan Hickey, Niko Kavadas to High-A Greenville

With infielder Alex Binelas and catcher Stephen Scott earning promotions to Double-A Portland on Friday, the Red Sox also promoted first-base prospect Niko Kavadas and catching prospect Nathan Hickey from Low-A Salem to High-A Greenville, per the club’s minor-league transactions log.

Kavadas, 23, was originally selected by the Sox in the 11th round of last year’s amateur draft out of the University of Notre Dame. The Indiana native came into his first full professional season ranked by FanGraphs as the No. 28 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

In 59 games with Salem this year, the left-handed hitting Kavadas batted .286/.453/.609 (188 wRC+) with 18 doubles, one triple, 14 home runs, 48 RBIs, 35 runs scored, one stolen base, 54 walks, and 70 strikeouts over 254 plate appearances. Ten of his 14 homers have come in the month of June.

Among qualified Carolina League hitters this season, Kavadas ranks second in walk rate (21.3%), first in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in OPS (1.062), first in isolated power (.323), and first in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, Kavadas has seen all his playing time as a pro come at first base. He should help fill the gap left behind by Binelas in Greenville.

Hickey, meanwhile, was selected by Boston in the fifth round of last year’s amateur draft out of the University of Florida. The Jacksonville native is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 23 prospect in the Sox’ farm system, which ranks tops among catchers in the organization.

With the Salem Sox this season, the left-handed hitting Hickey slashed .271/.429/.507 (160 wRC+) to go along with 12 doubles, seven home runs, 39 runs driven in, 31 runs scored, 39 walks, and 39 strikeouts across 41 games spanning 182 trips to the plate.

Among qualified catchers at the Low-A level, Hickey ranks first in walk rate (21.4%), first in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, first in OPS (.936), second in isolated power (.236), and first in wRC+, according to FanGraphs.

Defensively, the 6-foot, 210 pound backstop has logged 227 2/3 innings behind the plate so far this season and has thrown out three of a possible 34 base stealers. In Greenville, he will join a group of catchers that includes Alex Erro and Jaxx Groshans.

(Picture of Nathan Hickey: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Red Sox’ Pedro Castellanos, Niko Kavadas earn Eastern League, Carolina League Player of the Week honors

A pair of Red Sox first-base prospects took home weekly honors from the respective leagues they play in. Earlier Monday afternoon, Minor League Baseball announced that Double-A Portland’s Pedro Castellanos and Low-A Salem’s Niko Kavadas were named Eastern League and Carolina League Players of the Week for the week of June 13-19.

Castellanos appeared in all six games of Portland’s most-recent series against the Reading Fightin Phils. In those six contests at FirstEnergy Stadium, the right-handed hitter went 12-for-28 (.429) at the plate with two doubles, one home run, five RBIs, two runs scored, zero walks, and four strikeouts.

By recording at least one hit in all six of those games, Castellanos extended his hitting streak to 16 consecutive games. On the 2022 campaign as a whole, the 24-year-old is batting .283/.307/.465 (109 wRC+) with 16 doubles, one triple, eight homers, 42 RBIs, 22 runs scored, seven walks, and 52 strikeouts over 58 games (244 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs.

Among qualified Eastern League hitters this season, Castellanos ranks eighth in doubles, fourth in RBIs, ninth in batting average, 22nd in slugging percentage, 29th in OPS (.773), and 34th in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Defensively, the 6-foot-3, 195 pounder has seen playing time at first base and both corner outfield positions this season. He has logged 257 1/3 innings at first, 26 innings in left, and 113 innings in right.

The Red Sox originally signed Castellanos for just $5,000 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2015. Always known for his ability to hit for average, the Carora native is eligible to become a free agent again this winter.

Castellanos, who turns 25 in December, becomes the first member of the 2022 Portland Sea Dogs to earn Eastern League Player of the Week honors this year.

Kavadas, meanwhile, had a monster week for Salem in its series against the Delmarva Shorebirds at Carillion Clinic Field. Over the course of six games, the left-handed hitting slugger went 9-for-17 (.529) with three doubles, four homers, 11 RBIs, 10 runs scored, nine walks, and just seven punchouts.

Selected by Boston in the 11th round of last year’s draft out of the University of Notre Dame, Kavadas has enjoyed a moderate amount of success in his first full professional season. Following a 2-for-3 performance on Sunday, the 24-year-old is now slashing a stout .279/.456/.570 (182 wRC+) to go along with 17 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 42 RBIs, 31 runs scored, one stolen base, 54 walks, and 68 strikeouts across 56 games (241 plate appearances) for the Salem Sox.

Among qualified hitters in the Carolina League this season, Kavadas ranks 15th in batting average, first in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, second in OPS (1.026), first in isolated power (.291), first in walk rate (22.4%), and first in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

On the other side of the ball, Kavadas has logged 343 innings at first base this year and has otherwise served as Salem’s designated hitter. The 6-foot-1, 235 pounder out of Granger, Ind. is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 44 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Given what he has done at the Low-A level this season, it seems like Kavadas could be on the verge of a promotion to High-A Greenville. He becomes the second member of the 2022 Salem Red Sox to earn Carolina League Player of the Week honors and joins fellow infielder Blaze Jordan by doing so.

(Picture of Pedro Castellanos: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox first base prospect Niko Kavadas boasting top walk rate (27.5%) and fourth-best on-base percentage (.475) in Carolina League

You could say that Red Sox first base prospect Niko Kavadas is in the midst of a slump. Over his last six games with Low-A Salem dating back to April 27, Kavadas is batting just .133 (2-for-15) with one extra-base hit.

While a .133 batting average is certainly not an eye-opener, Kavadas has still managed to get on base as of late despite the lack of hits. In his last 24 trips to the plate, the left-handed hitter has drawn nine walks, which translates to a 37.5% walk rate as well as a .458 on-base percentage.

Through the first month of the 2022 minor-league season, which is also his first full professional season, Kavadas is slashing .263/.475/.474 with six doubles, two home runs, six RBIs, 10 runs scored, one stolen base, 22 walks, and 25 strikeouts over 18 games spanning 80 plate appearances with Salem.

Among qualified Carolina League hitters, the 23-year-old currently ranks second in walks, first in walk rate (27.5%), 29th in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, 17th in slugging percentage, ninth in OPS (.949), 10th in isolated power (.211), and seventh in wRC+ (174), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Kavadas has unsurprisingly seen all of his playing time on the field this year come at first base. The 6-foot-1, 235 pounder has logged 111 innings at the position thus far and has registered four assists while turning seven double plays.

The Red Sox originally selected Kavadas in the 11th round of last summer’s amateur draft out of the University of Notre Dame. The Indiana native officially signed with the club for $250,000 on the first day of August. Around that same time, Kavadas was identified by Baseball America as an underrated draft selection on account of his power and ability to draw walks.

While he has only hit four home runs in 33 professional games, Kavadas has already shown that he can be productive in other ways via ball four. Since being promoted from the Florida Complex League to Salem on August 25 of last year, Kavadas has drawn 30 walks while only striking out 32 times.

Kavadas, who does not turn 24 until late October, is currently regarded by FanGraphs as the No. 28 prospect and by SoxProspects.com as the No. 48 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Under the assumption that he can break out of his quote-unquote slump and continue to get on base at a high rate, it seems likely that Kavadas could make his way to High-A Greenville before season’s end.

(Picture of Niko Kavadas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospects Marcelo Mayer, Niko Kavadas hit first home runs of professional careers in Florida Complex League action

A pair of Red Sox prospects and 2021 draft picks each belted the first home runs of their professional careers down in Fort Myers earlier Saturday morning.

Marcelo Mayer, Boston’s first-round selection, and Niko Kavadas, Boston’s 11th-round selection, both homered for the Florida Complex League Red Sox as part of their 11-5 victory over the Florida Complex League Twins at JetBlue Park.

Mayer’s homer came as part of a productive day at the plate, as the 18-year-old went 2-for-6 with his first home run, two runs scored, and four RBI.

It was Mayer who got the Red Sox on the board first on Saturday, with Eddinson Paulino kicking things off in the bottom of the first inning with a leadoff double off Twins starter Develson Laria and Mayer following with an RBI single to center field.

In the bottom of the third, Kavadas got his solid day at the plate started out of the cleanup spot by taking Twins reliever Elpidio Perez extremely deep to right field for his first home run of the season, which put his side up 3-0.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Mayer came through with a big fly of his own, this time clubbing a three-run shot off left-hander John Wilson for what was also his first home run of the year.

After a double off the bat of Nathan Hickey, Kavadas — who led off the bottom of the fifth by drawing a walk — drove in the former University of Florida catcher by drilling an RBI double to right field and giving the Red Sox a commanding 10-0 lead in the process of doing so.

All told, Kavadas finished his day having gone 2-for-2 with a double, two walks, two RBI, and two runs scored before being replaced at first base by Cuba Bess in the seventh inning.

Kavadas, who signed with Boston for $250,000 earlier this month, made his professional debut on August 10.

Including Saturday’s solid showing, the 22-year-old first baseman out of the University of Notre Dame is now slashing .286 (4-for-14)/.500/.643 with one home run, two doubles, two RBI, four runs scored, six walks, and four strikeouts through his first five games (20 plate appearances) in the Florida Complex League.

Mayer, meanwhile, signed with the Sox for $6.664 million after becoming the club’s highest draft pick (fourth overall) in more than 50 years last month.

Regarded by many as the top prep prospect coming into this summer’s draft, the left-handed hitting shortstop out of Eastlake High School (Calif.) is currently ranked by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in Boston’s farm system, trailing only Triston Casas and Jarren Duran.

By notching two hits in his six trips to the plate on Saturday, Mayer — who does not turn 19 until December — raised his batting line on the season with the FCL Red Sox to .214/.313/.357 to go along with one double, one home run, five RBI, five runs scored, four walks, and seven strikeouts over his first seven games (32 plate appearances) as a pro.

(Picture of Marcelo Mayer: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ 11th-round pick Niko Kavadas identified by Baseball America as underrated draft selection

Of the 15 college players the Red Sox selected in the 2021 MLB first-year player draft this week, 10 attended schools that are in Power Five conferences (the ACC, Big 12, Big 10, Pac-12, and SEC).

While the likes of University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian stick out in regards to big names Boston took from the college ranks in this year’s draft, their 11th-round selection has garnered some attention as well.

To kick off the third and final day of the draft on Tuesday, Boston took University of Notre Dame first baseman Niko Kavadas with the 316th overall pick.

Kavadas, 22, was regarded by Baseball America as the 158th-ranked draft-eligible prospect coming into the week, and one BA writer in particular views the Fighting Irish slugger as perhaps the most underrated member of Boston’s 20-man draft class.

“Calling Kavadas underrated seems odd considering he was one of the best and most successful players in college this year,” Baseball America’s Ben Badler wrote on Wednesday. “But he was an 11th-round pick, so he fits the bill. Kavadas has massive power and he draws walks. That’s pretty much the extent of his plus tools, but it’s a very important skill and one that can carry a player all the way to the big-leagues.”

In his senior season for Notre Dame this spring, Kavadas — an Indiana native — produced a slash line of .302/.473/.767 with eight doubles, 22 home runs, 64 RBI, 42 runs scored, two stolen bases, 50 walks, and 55 strikeouts over 47 games (220 plate appearances).

While Kavadas is known for what he can do at the plate, there is some concern regarding the left-handed hitter’s defensive range as well as his speed on the base paths.

Per his Baseball America scouting report from earlier this year, Kavadas “is a well below-average runner with limited range who will be limited to first base or DH at the next level. He has the raw power to profile there and he can send the ball out of the park in any direction, and he did a nice job getting into hitter’s counts and then hammering fastballs this spring.

“He did struggle more against breaking and offspeed stuff and was also less successful than scouts would have liked to see against 93-plus mph velocity, which are valid concerns for his pure hit tool at the next level.”

On top of that, Kavadas turns 23 in October, so he is a bit older than the prototypical college prospect. That being said — or as BA noted, “there’s real power for a team that thinks he’ll be able to regularly get to it at the next level with a wood bat.”

Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni seems to buy into this philosophy as well, as he told reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier) on Tuesday that Kavadas’ power tool is at “the top of the scale” already.

“If he were in the major-leagues right now, my guess is that the power would line up with the best of them,” Toboni said. “He’s an interesting player and a great kid.”

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, it’s safe to say Kavadas is an intimidating presence when he steps in the batter’s box.

By taking Kavadas in the 11th round of this year’s draft, the Red Sox can sign the slugging corner infielder for up to $125,000 without tapping into their bonus pool total.

If they do exceed the $125,000 limit in order to sign Kavadas (which seems to be a legitimate possibility based off speculation within the industry), or any other Day 3 pick, that would require them to dip into their bonus pool.

As things currently stand, Boston has $11,359,600 in total bonus pool space to work with, though that cap could increase to approximately $11,927,580 if the club was willing to incur some tax-related penalties by surpassing the limit by up to 5%.

The Red Sox, like all major-league teams, will have until 5 p.m. eastern time on Sunday, August 1 to sign as many of their draft picks as possible, though Toboni did say he only expects 13-15 of the club’s draftees to actually sign.

(Picture of Niko Kavadas: Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune via AP)