Red Sox appear to have signed North Carolina State commit Bryant Zayas

UPDATE: The Red Sox have officially signed Zayas, per the club’s transactions log.

The Red Sox appear to have signed undrafted free-agent shortstop Bryant Zayas to a minor-league contract. That is based on Zayas’ recent Instagram activity and this post from one of his coaches, Ricardo Sosa of Team Sosa Baseball in Hialeah, Fla.

Zayas, 18, went undrafted out of Miami Christian School earlier this week despite being ranked nationally by Perfect Game USA as the No. 214 prospect in this year’s high school class. The Miami-area native was committed to play college baseball at North Carolina State University.

As a senior at Miami Christian, the right-handed hitting Zayas batted .323/.405/.548 with five doubles, three triples, four home runs, 19 RBIs, 30 runs scored, 15 stolen bases, 13 walks, and 25 strikeouts over 31 games (111 plate appearances) for the Victors, per MaxPreps.

Listed at 6-foot and 178 pounds, Zayas possesses quality bat speed and hits solid line drives when he is on time. On the other side of the ball, the quick infielder has “excellent actions at shortstop with a good combination of high level footwork and soft hands.” According to Perfect Game USA, the defense is what stands out.

Zayas, who turns 19 in October, would become the second undrafted free-agent to sign with the Red Sox this week, joining University of Connecticut catcher Matt Donlan. Clubs can sign undrafted players for up to $125,000 without dipping into their bonus pool.

(Picture of Bryant Zayas: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox prospect Tyler McDonough hits first home run of season for High-A Greenville

Versatile Red Sox prospect Tyler McDonough hit his first home run of the season in High-A Greenville’s 9-6 victory over the Asheville Tourists (Astros affiliate) on Thursday night.

Batting leadoff and starting in center field, McDonough went 2-for-5 with a double, a home run, four RBIs, one run scored, and one strikeout at McCormick Field.

After beginning the 2022 season 0 for his first 13 with seven punchouts, McDonough has gone 4 for his last 11 with four extra-base hits, four runs scored, and seven runs driven in across the Drive’s last two games, both of which were wins.

McDonough, who turned 23 earlier this month, is ranked by Baseball America as the No. 16 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The North Carolina State product is in the midst of his first full season as a pro after being selected by the Sox in the third round of last summer’s draft.

During his three seasons with the Wolfpack, McDonough saw playing time at second base, third base, and center field. That sort of usage has continued with the Red Sox organization, as the 5-foot-10, 180 pounder has already logged nine innings at second base, nine innings in center field, and 28 innings at new position in left field early on this year.

Offensively, McDonough was known for his bat-to-ball skills and plate discipline during his time at North Carolina State. So far as a pro, the switch-hitter has proven capable of handling left-handed and right-handed pitchers alike. Between the Florida Complex League and Low-A Salem last year, the Ohio native batted .277/.371/.446 against righties and .400/.478/.750 against southpaws.

Given his ability to play multiple positions and hit from both sides of the plate, McDonough could prove to be a valuable asset within Boston’s farm system who has the potential to rise through the organizational ranks quickly.

(GIF of Tyler McDonough via the Greenville Drive)

Red Sox prospect Tyler McDonough could add more versatility to his game by playing some shortstop in 2022, Brian Abraham says

Tyler McDonough may not have been the top selection the Red Sox made in this summer’s draft, but he has already emerged as one of the early standouts from the class.

Boston took McDonough — a 5-foot-10, 180 pound second baseman — in the third round of the 2021 amateur draft out of North Carolina State University, where he was well-regarded for for his offensive production and consistency at the plate.

Upon signing with the Sox for $831,100 in late July, McDonough was assigned to the club’s rookie-level Florida Complex League affiliate in Fort Myers. It did not take long for the 22-year-old to get acclimated to pro ball, as he was promptly promoted to Low-A Salem on August 3.

It took a little more than two weeks for McDonough to make his Salem Red Sox debut, but the switch-hitter wound up slashing .296/.397/.491 (141 wRC+) with four doubles, four triples, three home runs, 14 RBIs, 23 runs scored, three stolen bases, 17 walks, and 24 strikeouts over 27 games (126 plate appearances) to close out the minor-league season.

In his three seasons at North Carolina State, McDonough saw his playing time come at second base, third base, and center field. In his first exposure to the pros, he saw all his playing time come at either second base or center field.

That being said, the Red Sox do believe McDonough can add even more defensive versatility to his profile. The Cincinnati native did play shortstop while attending the prestigious Moeller High School and — as noted by The Athletic’s Chad Jennings — “regularly took pregame groundballs at shortstop” this past season.

When speaking with Jennings over the weekend, Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham indicated that McDonough “could play some shortstop next year, perhaps not as a primary position but to explore the possibility of backing up at the position” if the occasion arises.

“If you can play shortstop and center field, that’s pretty valuable,” said Abraham. “There aren’t too many guys who can do that. What we’ve seen — the athleticism, the footwork, the arm strength — all those things give us reason to think he could play some shortstop. But I think you have to walk before you run as well. I think we’re certainly open to it, and if he shows us he has the ability to do that, we’ll certainly give him that opportunity.”

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, and perhaps even before then, Boston has clearly placed an emphasis on players who can play multiple positions, and that — from an in-house perspective — starts from the bottom of the player development ladder.

“We’ve definitely been — I don’t want to say more aggressive, but we’ve definitely been a little bit more open to allowing guys to play in multiple areas,” Abraham said. “(We are) allowing them to get (experience) at a position where, at the upper levels, they don’t get there for the first time and say, ‘Wow, I’m uncomfortable here.’ So, I think that’s definitely been strategic on our end. But again, we’ve also been very lucky to have some very good players who can play multiple positions.”

McDonough, who does not turn 23 until April, was recently identified by Baseball America as the fastest runner and best athlete in Boston’s 2021 draft class. He is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 campaign at High-A Greenville.

(Picture of Tyler McDonough: Steven Branscombe/USA TODAY Sports)