Red Sox top prospects Nick Yorke, Brayan Bello named organization’s Offensive Player, Starting Pitcher of the Year

Two of the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system were recognized for the seasons they respectively put together this year.

Infielder Nick Yorke was named Boston’s Offensive Player of the Year, while right-hander Brayan Bello was named Boston’s Starting Pitcher of the Year, the club announced on Tuesday.

Yorke, 19, enjoyed a great deal of success in his first professional season with the Sox after being selected with the 17th overall pick in last summer’s amateur draft.

The right-handed hitting second baseman received an invite to major-league spring training earlier this year and broke minor-league camp with Low-A Salem.

After getting off to a slow start with Salem, Yorke turned a corner at the plate beginning in June, as he was slashing a scorching .323/.413/.500 (146 wRC+) with 14 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 47 RBI, 59 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 41 walks, and 47 strikeouts over 76 games (346 plate appearances) before earning a promotion to High-A Greenville late last month.

Upon getting promoted to a more advanced level on the minor-league ladder, Yorke did not slow down, as evidenced by him collecting two hits in his Greenville debut on August 24.

From there, the California native went on to hit .333/.406/.571 (158 wRC+) with six doubles, one triple, four homers, 15 RBI, 17 runs scored, two stolen bases, 11 walks, and 22 strikeouts across 21 games (96 plate appearances) with the Drive, whose season ended on Sunday.

All in all, Yorke this season ranked first among all qualified Red Sox minor-league hitters in batting average (.325), fourth in on-base percentage (.412), third in slugging percentage (.516), first in OPS (.928), second in wRC+ (158), per FanGraphs.

Yorke, who does not turn 20 until next April, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking fifth among position players in the organization.

As for Bello, the 22-year-old right-hander also earned a midseason promotion over the summer after originally beginning the year — and dominating — with Greenville.

Across six starts with the Drive, Bello posted a dazzling 2.27 ERA and 2.82 FIP to go along with 45 strikeouts to seven walks over 31 2/3 innings of work before moving up to Double-A Portland in early June.

While the transition from High-A to Double-A did not go entirely smoothly for Bello, he was one of two prospects to represent the Red Sox in July’s All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field.

From the time he was promoted to Portland through the end of the minor-league season, the Dominican-born righty put up a 4.66 ERA, but much more respectable 3.12 FIP, while striking out 31.1% of the batters he faced and walking just 8.6% of them over 15 starts spanning 63 2/3 innings of work with the Sea Dogs.

Among the eight Red Sox minor-league pitchers who accrued at least 90 innings this season, Bello ranked first in strikeouts per nine innings (12.46), first in strikeout rate (32.8%), first in FIP (3.02), and first in xFIP (3.16), per FanGraphs.

Bello, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, is the No. 6 prospect in Boston’s farm system, according to Baseball America.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Bello throws from a mid-three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a fastball, a changeup, and a slider.

Despite the fact he does not turn 23 until next May, Bello will more than likely be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster by the November 20 deadline since he can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time this winter.

In addition to Yorke being named the Red Sox’ Offensive Player of the Year and Bello being named the Starting Pitcher of the Year, infielder/outfielder Ceddanne Rafaela was named the Defensive Player of the Year, right-hander Durbin Feltman was named the Relief Pitcher of the Year, infielder Christian Koss was named the Baserunner of the Year, outfielder Allan Castro was named the Latin Program Position Player of the Year, and right-hander Jedixson Paez was named the Latin Program Pitcher of the Year.

On top of that, right-hander Kutter Crawford — who made his major-league debut earlier this month — was named the recipient of the Lou Gorman Award, which goes to a player “who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the major-league team.”

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Jay Groome has struck out 19 of the first 39 batters he has faced since promotion to Double-A Portland

Red Sox pitching prospect Jay Groome has been on an absolute tear since his promotion to Double-A Portland, with his stellar outing on Sunday being the latest instance.

Matched up against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets affiliate) in his second start for Portland, Groome tossed six scoreless innings while scattering just two hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with nine strikeouts on the afternoon at Hadlock Field.

The left-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before issuing back-to-back one-out singles to Antoine Duplantis and Ronny Mauricio to put runners at the corners, but he got out of it by retiring the final two batters he faced in order to preserve the shutout.

Of the 84 pitches Groome threw on Sunday, 61 went for strikes. Six of his nine punchouts were swinging strikeouts, while the other three were looking.

Groome, who turned 23 in late August, initially began the 2021 minor-league season at High-A Greenville, where he posted a 5.29 ERA and 4.00 xFIP over 18 starts (81 2/3 innings pitched) before earning a promotion to Portland earlier this month.

In his Sea Dogs debut, which came against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Groome fanned a season-high 10 batters while walking none over five solid, scoreless innings of work.

While he had to wait more than a week to make his next start for the Sea Dogs, the 23-year-old southpaw was yet again impressive on Sunday. In picking up nine strikeouts in his latest outing, Groome has now fanned 19 of the first 39 hitters he faced at the Double-A level.

It’s a small sample size, of course, but among Double-A Northeast pitchers who have thrown at least 11 innings this season, Groome ranks second among them in strikeout percentage (48.7%), third in walk percentage (2.6%), and third in xFIP (1.89), per FanGraphs.

The Red Sox originally selected Groome with the 12th overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft out of Barnegat High School in New Jersey. He underwent Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2018 and was added to Boston’s 40-man roster last November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

Listed at 6-foot-6 and 251 pounds, Groome is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 9 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks fourth among pitchers in the organization.

Having to undergo Tommy John surgery forced Groome to become a different pitcher, but his ceiling is still relatively high.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, the lefty “has the raw materials of a left-handed starter, including a powerful build, a controlled, repeatable delivery and giant hands that allow him to manipulate the ball.”

Additionally, Groome operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 92-95 mph fastball that “has missed a ton of bats” this year, a curveball that “has been more of an average pitch” post-Tommy John, a recently-added slider, and a changeup.

According to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, “there’s a belief in the Red Sox organization [that Groome’s] slider has become his best secondary pitch, especially to left-handed hitters.”

(Picture of Jay Groome: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox promote top pitching prospect Jay Groome to Double-A Portland

The Red Sox have promoted top pitching prospect Jay Groome to Double-A Portland, per MiLB.com’s transaction wire.

Groome, 23, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 9 prospect in the Sox’ farm system, ranking fourth among pitchers in the organization.

Boston originally selected the left-hander with the 12th overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft out of Barnegat High School (N.J.) and later signed him for $3.65 million that July.

After an injury-riddled 2017 season, Groome underwent Tommy John surgery the following spring, resulting in him missing the entirety of 2018 and the majority of the 2019 campaign.

While the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Groome from pitching in any meaningful games last year, the New Jersey native still got work in at the Red Sox’ alternate training site and fall instructional league before being added to the club’s 40-man roster in November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

Invited to his first major-league camp earlier this spring, Groome opened the 2021 season at High-A Greenville and posted a 5.16 ERA and 4.13 FIP to go along with 75 strikeouts to 24 walks over 12 starts spanning 52 1/3 innings pitched through July 7.

At that time, Groome stepped away from the affiliate for the birth of his daughter and did not return until July 30. In six starts with the Drive since then, the lefty put up a 5.52 ERA and 4.76 FIP — as well as a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 33:8 — over 29 1/3 total innings of work.

Among High-A East pitchers with at least 80 innings under their belt this season, Groome ranks first in strikeouts per nine innings (11.9), first in strikeout rate (30.8%), and third in xFIP (3.97), per FanGraphs.

Despite some of those numbers being underwhelming, Groome has still earned himself a promotion to Portland and will make his highly-anticipated Sea Dogs debut as they face off against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays affiliate) in Manchester on Saturday night.

Per his Baseball America scouring report, the 6-foot-6, 251 pound hurler operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 92-95 mph fastball that “has missed a ton of bats” this year, a curveball that “has been more of an average pitch” post-Tommy John, a recently-added slider, and a changeup.

As he prepares to make his first start at the Double-A level on Saturday night, Groome will don the No. 46 with the Sea Dogs.

UPDATE: Groome’s first start with Portland went well, as he scattered just two hits and zero walks to go along with a career-high 10 strikeouts over five innings of work. 53 of the 83 pitches he threw went for strikes.

(Picture of Jay Groome: Billie Weiss/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox prospects Jose Ramirez, Giancarlos Santana making strides in Dominican Summer League

Earlier this week, Red Sox pitching prospect Jose Ramirez put together yet another quality outing for one of the club’s Dominican Summer League affiliates.

Over five strong innings of work against the DSL Marlins on Monday, Ramirez kept the opposition off the scoreboard while allowing just one hit and no walks to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

Needing just 40 pitches — 31 of which were strikes — to get through those five scoreless frames, the young right-hander wound up facing the minimum 15 batters, as he worked his way around a leadoff single in the fifth inning by inducing a 5-4-3 double play that was followed by an inning-ending groundout.

Later earning the win in what would go down as a 2-1 road victory for the DSL Red Sox, Ramirez improved to 3-0 on the season while lowering his ERA on the year to a miniscule 0.33.

In addition to posting a 0.33 ERA — and 3.52 FIP — through his first seven outings (six starts) of the 2021 campaign down in the Dominican, Ramirez has also recorded 21 strikeouts to just 11 walks while holding opposing hitters to a .194 batting average against over 27 total innings pitched.

The 20-year-old hurler originally signed with the Red Sox out of Santo Domingo in May 2018 and made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League shortly thereafter.

At that time, Ramirez was listed at 6-foot and 145 pounds, but has since experienced a bit of a growth spurt that may have something to do with the success he has enjoyed this year, as Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero recently explained to BloggingtheRedSox.com.

“Jose has been one of our better starters,” Romero said via email. “He’s 6-foot-2, 170 pounds now and shows three pitches — a fastball that’s 90-95 mph, a sharp, true curveball in the mid-70s, and a late, fading changeup.”

While Ramirez’s 19.6% strikeout rate to this point in the season does not exactly jump off the page, Romero credits the righty’s ability to attack the strike zone as a reason to why he has been so effective after the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One day after Ramirez dominated for the Red Sox Red Dominican Summer League affiliate, outfield prospect Giancarlos Santana put together an impressive day at the plate for the Red Sox Blue affiliate on Tuesday.

Matched up against the DSL Rangers while starting in right field and batting out of the seven-hole, Santana led the way by going 3-for-4 with a triple, a home run, a walk, two RBI, two runs scored, and a stolen base in a 7-5 win for the Sox.

Santana’s homer, which came off Rangers starter Eury Rosado to lead things off in the top of the fifth inning, was the first of the 19-year-old’s professional career. It also got the Red Sox on the board and proved to be the catalyst for a five-run inning.

Fast forward to the top half of the 10th, with things knotted up at five runs apiece, and Santana again provided a boost while leading off an inning. This time, while matched up against reliever Elias Leal, the right-handed hitter ripped a triple — his first of the year — to drive in the winning run from second base.

Santana then scored an important insurance run himself on an RBI single off the bat of Diego Viloria, which in turn gave the Red Sox the two-run lead they would need to secure a 7-5 victory over the Rangers.

With his three-hit day in tow, Santana raised his batting line on the season to a solid .280/.438/.440 (156 wRC+) to go along with one triple, one home run, four RBI, six runs scored, seven walks, five strikeouts, and four stolen bases through 15 games and 32 plate appearances in the DSL.

The Red Sox originally signed Santana as a 17-year-old outfielder out of Santo Domingo for $460,000 back in July 2018. At that time, Baseball America’s Ben Badler wrote that Santana “has a clean, fluid swing with an advanced approach and sprays the ball over the field with a good track record of hitting in games. He’s a line-drive hitter with occasional doubles pop and a hit-over-power offensive profile, though he has the physical upside to grow into more sock.”

After settling in and eventually making his Dominican Summer League debut the following June, Santana got his professional career off to a rough start as he struggled to the tune of a .192/.322/.216 (69 wRC+) slash line over 50 games in 2019.

Despite those struggles, Santana was able to use the COVID-19 shutdown last year to his advantage, as he trained with his cousin — former Red Sox prospect and current Rays outfielder Manuel Margot — to get stronger.

“A rangy outfielder,” Romero said when describing Santana, who has experience at all three outfield positions. “He trains with his cousin Manuel Margot in the offseason. Santana struggled in his 2019 season but worked to get stronger during the pandemic and has performed well to date while showing much better plate command.”

Santana, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and likelier heavier than his listed weight of 180 pounds, struck out in 23% of his plate appearances in 2019 while only drawing a walk 13.5% percent of the time.

So far this year, as Romero indicated, Santana has shown better discipline at the plate considering the fact he has lowered his strikeout rate down to 15.6% in the process of raising his walk rate up to 21.9%.

The 2021 Dominican Summer League Season, which will not include a postseason, will run through October 2, so Ramirez and Santana have a little more than five weeks to continue to build on what they have done as of late.

With that being said, both Ramirez — who does not turn 21 until next March — and Santana — who turns 20 in November — can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in their respective careers next December.

(Picture of Giancarlos Santana: Jesse Sanchez/MLB.com)

Red Sox promote top prospect Nick Yorke to High-A Greenville

The Red Sox have promoted top infield prospect Nick Yorke from Low-A Salem to High-A Greenville, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Yorke, who the Sox selected in the first round and with the 17th overall pick in last year’s amateur draft, opened his first full professional season with Salem earlier this spring and got off to a rather slow start.

Through the end of May, the 19-year-old was hitting just .195/.264/.220 (41 wRC+) with two doubles, no home runs, nine RBI, nine runs scored, three stolen bases, eight walks, and 21 strikeouts over his first 21 games and 91 plate appearances of the year.

Once the calendar flipped to June, however, Yorke began to turn a corner offensively, as the young second baseman slashed a sizzling .373/.467/.608 (185 wRC+) to go along with 12 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 38 RBI, 50 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 33 walks, and 26 strikeouts over his final 55 games (255 plate appearances) with the Salem Red Sox.

In the month of August alone, Yorke posted an absurd 1.352 OPS, bringing his totals on the season up to .323/.413/.500 (147 wRC+) in addition to 14 doubles, four triples, 10 homers, 47 RBI, 59 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 41 walks, and 47 strikeouts in 76 games (346 plate appearances) at Salem.

Among the top qualified hitters in the Low-A East this season, Yorke ranks in first in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, second in OPS (.913), third in weighted on-base average (.416), and third in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

The left-handed hitter did all that while drawing a walk 11.8% of the time while also striking out a mere 13.6% of the time.

Yorke, who is listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

When the Red Sox selected Yorke, then an 18-year-old fresh out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, as early as they did in the 2020 draft, that decision was met with much criticism since he was not regarded by those in the industry as one of the top-20 talents in that year’s draft class.

Still, the Sox took Yorke with the feeling that he would not be on the board when they picked again, and that selection has certainly paid off to this point — especially since they were able to sign the California native to an underslot deal at $2.7 million.

Now that he has been promoted, Yorke will get the opportunity to go up against a more advanced level of pitching as a member of the Greenville Drive.

Defensively, Speier notes that “questions remain about whether [Yorke] will be able to stay at second base, but his performance with Salem suggested that he needs to be challenged at a higher level.”

With that being said, it should be interesting to see (a) how Yorke — who does not turn 20 until next April — responds to this new challenge and (b) what kind of start he gets off to in Greenville.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Connor Seabold dominates for Triple-A Worcester on one-year anniversary of trade from Phillies

August 21 continues to be a memorable date for Red Sox pitching prospect Connor Seabold.

At this time one year ago, Seabold — then a member of the Phillies organization — was traded to the Red Sox alongside fellow right-hander Nick Pivetta in exchange for relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree.

365 days later, and Seabold’s name is in the headlines once more, though it has to do with what he did on the mound for Triple-A Worcester this time around.

Making his sixth start of the season for the WooSox in Saturday’s contest against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Yankees affiliate), the young right-hander put together quite the outing in front of 7,432 spectators at Polar Park.

Over seven quality innings of work, Seabold kept the RailRiders off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts on the afternoon.

After retiring the first five batters he faced in order, Seabold issued a two-out walk to Socrates Brito in the top half of the second. He followed that up by getting Kyle Holder to line out to first base for the final out of the inning before truly settling in.

That being the case because from the beginning of the third inning on, Seabold did not allow a single hitter to reach base as he took a no-hitter into the top of the seventh before giving up a one-out single to Donny Sands.

Seabold was, however, able to induce a ground ball off the bat of Trey Amburgey to set up an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play, thus ending his outing on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (61 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler wrapped up his day having induced 11 total swings-and-misses in the process of picking up his very first win of the year to improve to 1-3. He also lowered his ERA on the season down to 3.73 in what would go down as a 2-0 victory for the WooSox.

“I’m going to be honest, I’m fighting a cold right now,” Seabold, who sat around 90-93 mph with his fastball, told MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison. “That wasn’t fun for the first few innings, but then it got fun once the adrenaline kicked in. I was sweating like a dog out there. A couple of times when I threw it, I saw beads of sweat coming off. But outside of that, I felt pretty good.”

Seabold, who does not turn 26 until January, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization.

After coming over to the Red Sox in that trade with the Phillies last summer and being added to the Sox’ 40-man roster in November, the former third-round draft pick out of Cal State Fullerton opened the 2021 minor-league season on the injured list.

Right elbow inflammation sidelined Seabold for approximately 2 1/2 months, but he was able to make his return to the mound for the Florida Complex League Red Sox on July 12 before doing the same for the WooSox on July 23.

In addition to posting a 3.73 ERA through his first six starts of the year for Worcester, the 6-foot-3, 195 pound righty has also held opposing hitters to a .209 batting average against while putting up a WHIP of 1.02 over 31 1/3 total innings pitched.

Because he is fully healthy and pitching at a high level (2.35 ERA in the month of August), Seabold may be a name to keep an eye on when it comes time for major-league rosters to expand from 26 to 28 players at the start of September.

This is not to say a promotion this season is imminent, but if the occasion were to arise where the Red Sox needed a spot start or multiple innings out of the bullpen at some point in September, calling up Seabold would seem sensible considering the fact that he is already on the 40-man roster.

In the meantime, though, Seabold — who operates with a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a deceptive 80-82 mph changeup, and an 83-85 mph slider according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report — should be in line to make his next start for the WooSox during their upcoming series against the Buffalo Bisons at Sahlen Field.

(Picture of Connor Seabold: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

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 pitching prospect Chris Murphy allows just 1 hit and strikes out 7 over 7 scoreless innings in latest start for Double-A Portland

Red Sox pitching prospect Chris Murphy put together quite the outing for Double-A Portland at Hadlock Field on Tuesday night.

Matched up against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets affiliate) in what was his third start of the season for the Sea Dogs, Murphy kept the opposition off the scoreboard while scattering all of one hit and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts over seven dominating innings of work.

Early on, it did not appear as though Murphy was at his sharpest considering he allowed two of the first three batters he faced to reach base via a one-out single and walk.

After escaping that jam, however, the left-hander settled in and proceeded to mow the Rumble Ponies down in order on more than just one occasion.

From the beginning of the second inning on, Murphy retired all of the final 18 hitters who came to the plate against him in the process of stringing together those seven scoreless, one-hit frames.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (56 strikes), Murphy ended his night having induced eight groundouts and three fly outs.

He later made way for relievers Jose Disla and Tyler Olson, who both slammed the door on the Rumble Ponies in the eighth and ninth innings to secure an 11-0 shutout victory for the Sea Dogs.

Through his first three starts with Portland dating back to August 4, Murphy has posted a 2.12 ERA and 3.90 xFIP with 21 strikeouts and just five walks over 17 total innings pitched thus far.

The Red Sox originally selected the 23-year-old in the sixth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of San Diego. He was scouted by J.J. Altobelli and later signed with Boston for $200,000.

After beginning his professional career in Lowell that summer and only having the fall instructional league to fall back on last year on account of the COVID-19 pandemic-induced shutdown, Murphy opened the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Greenville.

In 14 starts with the Drive, the California native put up a 4.21 ERA and less favorable 4.59 xFIP over the course of 68 1/3 innings pitched, but nevertheless earned a promotion to Portland on July 31.

In the three starts he has made with the Sea Dogs to this point, Murphy has proven to be more effective in regards to limiting traffic on the base paths. After averaging more than three walks per nine innings in Greenville, the lefty has trimmed that number down to 2.65 in Portland.

On top of that, Murphy has increased his strikeout rate since his promotion (28.3% to 32.3%) while also holding opposing hitters to a miniscule .183 batting average against.

As things stand at the moment, Murphy is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking fifth among pitchers in the organization.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-1, 175 pound hurler throws from a low three-quarters arm slot and operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 90-94 mph fastball that tops out at 96 mph, an 80-82 mph changeup, a 73-75 curveball with a 1-to-7 break, and an 80-84 mph slider.

As noted by SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall, Murphy’s fastball has touched 97-98 mph this season, while his other pitches have proven capable of inducing plenty of swings-and-misses.

That being said, Cundall did point out that the “key for [Murphy] going forward is refining [his] command.”

Murphy, who does not turn 24 until next June, does not become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft until December 2022, so there is still some time before the Red Sox need to make a decision in regards to adding him to their 40-man roster.

(Picture of Chris Murphy: Portland Sea Dogs)

Blogging the Red Sox presents: A conversation about the Florida Complex League with Ben Crockett

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to exchange emails with Red Sox senior vice president of baseball operations Ben Crockett.

Crockett, who is in the midst of his 15th season with the Red Sox organization after starting out as an intern, was promoted to his current role back in January after serving as the club’s vice president of player development the previous four years.

A native of Topsfield, Mass., Crockett was originally selected by Boston in the 10th round of the 2001 amateur draft as a right-handed pitcher out of Harvard University.

After returning to Harvard for his senior season, Crockett was taken by the Colorado Rockies in the third round of the 2002 draft and spent four seasons in their system before calling it a playing career in 2006.

In his time with the Red Sox as an executive, Crockett — now 41 — has undertaken a variety of roles that primarily revolves around player development. As the club’s senior vice president of baseball operations, Crockett “assists in all areas of baseball operations, with a focus on player development, performance, and baseball systems.”

One area in particular that Crockett assists in would be how Red Sox minor-leaguers are doing in the rookie-level Florida Complex League (formerly the Gulf Coast League) down at the team’s spring training facility in Fort Myers.

To this point in the season, the Florida Complex League Red Sox are 20-11 and owners of the fourth-best record in the FCL.

Among those within Boston’s farm system who have played for the club’s FCL affiliate so far this summer include include a number of the organization’s top prospects, such as 2021 first-round draft pick Marcelo Mayer, Wilkelman Gonzalez, and Brainer Bonaci.

I made sure to ask Crockett about the Sox’ premier prospects, but I wanted to ask about some under-the-radar-type players as well. So, without further ado, here is a quote-unquote transcript of the conversation we had through email.

Has the loss of the New York-Penn League changed the way the organization looks at how prospects just out of college are performing in the Florida Complex League? For instance, do you take [2021 18th-round pick] Philip Sikes batting .438/.500/.625 or [2021 ninth-round pick] Tyler Miller batting .409/500/.545 thus far with a grain of salt based off the level of pitching they faced while at Texas Christian University and Auburn University?

Ben Crockett: We try not to put too much stock in small samples of performance, especially in a player’s first year with a mid-July draft, but are happy with the debuts of many guys, including those you mentioned like Miller and Sikes.

The following question has to do with the players to be named later the Red Sox acquired from the Royals and Mets in June as part of the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City back in February:

With Josh Winckowski and Grant Gambrell pitching at more advanced levels, what have you made of the way right-hander Luis De La Rosa and outfielder Freddy Valdez have acclimated to a new organization after coming over mid-season?

Crockett: Both Luis and Freddy have made positive first impressions. They’ve worked hard, been willing to communicate, and shown the positive physical qualities our scouts identified prior to acquiring them.

What makes infielder Eddinson Paulino and right-hander Wilkelman Gonzalez stand out and what did they do during the COVID shutdown last year to get off to such a strong start this season? Paulino is hitting .377/.476/.609 while Gonzalez has posted a 3.90 ERA through seven starts.

Crockett: Both have taken steps forward in 2021, taking full advantage of their time with us and during their preparation at home. We’ve been really pleased with the underlying qualities that have led to the success they’ve seen on the field.

How has the organization gone about evaluating those prospects who had lost seasons last year because of the pandemic, such as former international signee Brainer Bonaci or former 2019 25th-round draft pick Karson Simas? Both Bonaci and Simas are infielders.

Crockett: Simas has done great work physically and has matured into his body, allowing some of his actions to translate into performance on the field. He’s shown great athleticism and versatility.

Bonaci has built on a positive 2020 at the academy, and has made some positive adjustments from his time in instructs last fall. He’s controlled the zone, made good contact from both sides, and continues to improve his defense at shortstop.

Has the addition of Marcelo Mayer to the Florida Complex League roster created any buzz around the Fenway South complex? What about when 2020 third-round pick Blaze Jordan was there prior to his promotion to Salem?

Crockett: The FCL group has done a great job keeping the energy high throughout the season, transitioning well from extended spring when their game reps were limited at times. I think they are really excited to be playing well and realize they have a very talented group of players.

The following question has to do with right-handed pitching prospect Eduard Bazardo, who made his major-league debut for Boston back in April, but had been sidelined with a right lat strain since late May. The 25-year-old was sent out on a rehab assignment with the FCL Red Sox last Friday:

How goes Eduard Bazardo’s rehab and would you expect him to get any more big-league consideration before season’s end?

Crockett: His rehab is going well, getting back into games now and bouncing back well.

Thank you to Ben Crockett for taking time out of his busy in-season schedule to answer these questions and for also making this possible in the first place.

(Picture of Marcelo Mayer: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox outfield prospect Miguel Bleis off to hot start in Dominican Summer League: ‘He’s the real deal’

The 2021 Dominican Summer League season may only be five weeks old, but one Red Sox prospect in particular is already drawing early praise from scouts who are on hand to watch the action unfold.

Miguel Bleis, Boston’s top international signing of 2021, has gotten his first professional season off to a hot start down in the Dominican.

Through eight games with the Dominican Summer League Red Sox Red team, the 17-year-old outfielder has slashed an impressive .391/.462/.652 (205 wRC+) to go along with three doubles, one home run, four RBI, five runs scored, two walks, two strikeouts, and three stolen bases in 26 plate appearances thus far.

In addition to what he has done at the plate, Bleis has also played 50 defensive innings in center field, has recorded 14 put outs, and one outfield assist while only committing one error.

While Bleis has played in just eight of the DSL Red Sox Red’s 22 games to this point in the season, he has been able to garner positive feedback from scouts and other evaluators.

According to SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall, the consensus among scouts seems to indicate that Bleis “is the real deal.”

The Red Sox originally gave Bleis a lucrative $1.8 million signing bonus back in January, making him the highest-paid member of their 2021 international free-agent class.

Bleis, who was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 20 prospect coming into this year’s international signing period, which began on January 15, is now regarded by BA as the 20th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system, per their midseason organizational rankings update.

According to his Baseball America scouting report, the right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing center fielder “has a lean, lively frame that’s sleek and athletic with high physical upside. His tools have trended up over the past year as projected, with plus speed and a plus arm now. He has long, gliding strides with an easy gait, covering a lot of ground in center field with the physical projection for his arm to potentially develop into a 70-grade tool.

“Bleis has fast bat speed and his power has jumped up from a little below-average to now showing above-average raw power, driving the ball fairly easily with backspin from center field over to his pull side,” the Dominican native’s scouting report reads. “With room to put on another 25-30 pounds of good weight, there could be more power in the tank. Bleis isn’t an advanced pure hitter, but he isn’t raw either, so if he can develop into an average hitter, he has the secondary tools to be a dynamic center fielder.”

Currently listed at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, Bleis — who does not turn 18 until next March — hails from San Pedro de Marocis, a city on the Dominican Republic’s southeastern coast that has produced major-league stars such as Fernando Tatis Jr., Robinson Cano, Johnny Cueto, Tony Fernandez, Alfonso Soriano, and Sammy Sosa, among others.

Back in February, Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero appeared on the SoxProspects.com Podcast with Cundall and Chris Hatfield and described Bleis as a “premium center field talent” who has “all five tools” in addition to “an absolute hose” of an arm.

“He’s got surprising power,” Romero said of Bleis. “Being so young and being able to have above-average raw power is something we don’t see often for a center field player given his body type and athleticism. So, really, what we need to hone in on with him is approach. He performed well offensively in competition for us, and he’s continued to do that in the academy.”

As Bleis looks to build off his strong start to the Dominican Summer League campaign as the summer continues, it should be noted that the young outfielder is still a ways away from netting any sort of major-league consideration.

That said, it should be interesting to see if Bleis at any point this summer earns a promotion to the Florida Complex League. If not, he will still likely receive an invite to participate in the Sox’ fall instructional league in Fort Myers later this year.

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