Red Sox pitching prospect Shane Drohan has swing-and-miss stuff

Because Jeremy Wu-Yelland underwent Tommy John surgery in April, Shane Drohan was the only member of the Red Sox’ 2020 draft class to pitch competitively this season.

Drohan, who was taken in the fifth round out of Florida State University two years ago, broke camp with High-A Greenville this spring after spending the entirety of the 2021 campaign at Low-A Salem.

In 22 appearances (20 starts) for the Drive, the left-hander posted a 4.00 ERA and 4.21 FIP to go along with 136 strikeouts to 40 walks over 105 2/3 innings of work. He allowed just two earned runs in his final three outings with Greenville before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland on August 16.

With the Sea Dogs, Drohan pitched to a 3.38 ERA with 21 strikeouts to 11 walks over five starts (24 innings). While he gave up runs less frequently, the 23-year-old southpaw saw his strikeout rate fall and his walk rate rise, which led to a higher FIP of 5.75.

It was certainly an adjustment period for Drohan, but he at least ended the year on a strong note by fanning eight of the 20 batters he faced in a 10-9 win over the Somerset Patriots in mid-September.

Between the two stops (Greenville and Portland), Drohan produced a cumulative 3.89 ERA and 4.49 FIP with 157 strikeouts to 51 walks across 27 appearances (25 starts) and 129 2/3 innings pitched. His 28.5 percent punchout rate ranked 50th among the 311 minor-league pitchers who threw at least 100 innings this season. His 16 percent swinging-strike rate ranked 15th, per FanGraphs.

On the heels of such a productive year on the mound, Drohan was named to SoxProspects.com’s 2022 All-Star team earlier this week. The Fort Lauderdale native is now regarded by the site as the No. 28 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks 10th pitchers in the organization.

What makes Drohan so effective and capable of inducing whiffs in bunches? Well, he stands at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of an 88-92 mph four-seam fastball that tops out at 94 mph, a 75-77 mph curveball, and a 78-81 mph changeup.

Drohan, who turns 24 in January, will be entering an important season in 2023 as the former Seminole can become Rule 5-eligible for the first time in his career. He is projected by SoxProspects.com to return to Portland next spring and the Red Sox will have until next November to add him to their 40-man roster.

As things stand now, Drohan has the upside to a be a back-end starter at the big-league level. Pitching his way onto Boston’s 40-man roster next season would certainly go a long way in solidifying — or maybe even surpassing — that projection.

(Picture of Shane Drohan: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox catching prospect Nathan Hickey turns in impressive first full pro season

Nathan Hickey came into his first full professional season ranked by Baseball America as the top catching prospect in the Red Sox farm system. He showed why he was worthy of that ranking over the last six months.

Selected by Boston in the fifth round of last year’s amateur draft out of the University of Florida, Hickey broke camp this spring with Low-A Salem, which is where he ended things in 2021.

In 41 games with Salem this season, the left-handed hitter batted .271/.429/.507 with 12 doubles, seven home runs, 39 RBIs, 31 runs scored, 39 walks, and 39 strikeouts over 182 plate appearances. That level of production prompted a promotion to High-A Greenville in late June.

With the Drive, Hickey hit for more power, though he also got on base less frequently. The 22-year-old slashed .252/.397/.539 with six doubles, nine homers, 23 runs driven in, 19 runs scored, 24 walks, and 39 strikeouts across 34 games (146 plate appearances). He was sidelined for a week in early August due to a concussion.

Between the two affiliates, Hickey produced a cumulative .263/.415/.522 slash line to go along with 18 doubles, 16 home runs, 62 RBIs, 50 runs scored, a walk rate of 19.2 percent, and a strikeout rate of 23.8 percent. Overall, his 155 wRC+ ranked third among minor-league catchers who made at least 100 trips to the plate this season, per FanGraphs.

On the other side of the ball, Hickey made 57 starts at catcher for Salem and Greenville this year. The 6-foot, 210-pound backstop logged 4585 2/3 innings behind the plate and threw out 10 of 75 base stealers. He also committed eight errors and allowed 10 passed balls.

Defense has been an issue with Hickey since before being drafted. The Jacksonville native came up as an infielder in high school but moved to catcher with the Gators so that he could regularly get his bat into the lineup.

Despite the lack of experience at a demanding position, the Red Sox still drafted Hickey as a catcher and signed him to an over-slot deal of $1 million. The doubts people had about his defensive abilities did not sit well with Hickey, as he explained to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier earlier this summer.

“I just hadn’t had enough time behind the plate to be able to show that was the spot for me,” Hickey said. “But I learned in one day more things about catching being here with Boston than I ever did at Florida.”

As detailed by Speier, Hickey did not call pitches at Florida and instead received the calls from his coaches. Since going pro, however, the Red Sox have let him call pitches on his own, which requires him to study up, implement a game plan, and be adaptable during games.

“It was a big step. Pitch-calling was kind of the thing that was stumping me a little bit at the beginning [of the season],” said Hickey. “But [being a catcher] is not really [about] me being successful, it’s making [the pitcher] look as successful as you can.”

In a separate, more recent piece for Baseball America, Speier relayed that pitchers enjoyed throwing to Hickey this season. And while Hickey has embraced becoming a game-caller, there is still more work to do in order to improve as a defender.

Hickey, who turns 23 in November, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 26 prospect in Boston’s farm system. That unsurprisingly ranks tops among catchers in the organization. He is projected by SoxProspects.com to return to Greenville for the start of the 2023 minor-league season next spring.

With that being said, it certainly seems feasible for Hickey to make the jump to Double-A Portland before the end of the next campaign. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Nathan Hickey: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox catching prospect Brooks Brannon shows signs of promise in pro debut

The Red Sox have selected just one natural catcher in each of the last two amateur drafts. Last year, they took Nathan Hickey in the fifth round of the University of Florida. Earlier this summer, they took Brooks Brannon in the ninth round out of Randleman High School in Randleman, N.C.

At that time, Brannon was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 155 prospect in the 2022 draft class. The 18-year-old backstop was also committed to play college baseball at the University of North Carolina in nearby Chapel Hill.

It was believed that Brannon’s commitment to the Tar Heels was a strong one. But just two days after being drafted, the North Carolina native told HighSchoolOT’s Kyle Morton that he intended to go pro and sign with the Red Sox.

“Leading up to the draft, if I could have picked any team it would have been the Red Sox,” Brannon said. “They did the best as far as establishing a relationship. … Everything is very family oriented. … The fact that they have that is huge. I’m just glad to be a part of an organization that values that like they do.”

Towards the end of July, Brannon officially signed with Boston for $712,500. To put that number into context, third-rounder Dalton Rogers received a signing bonus of $447,500, so the Sox certainly went above and beyond to secure Brannon’s services.

“We were surprised to see him get that far,” amateur scouting director Paul Toboni told MLB.com’s Julia Kreuz back in July. “We think so highly of the baseball player and the person, we were beyond thrilled to see him staring at us at that point of the draft.

Fresh off belting 20 homers and driving in 91 runs as a senior at Randleman High, Brannon made his professional debut in the Florida Complex League on August 13. The right-handed hitter appeared in just five games for the FCL Red Sox, going 6-for-13 (.462) with one double, two triples, five RBIs, six runs scored, two walks, and five strikeouts.

Though he did not go deep in his brief pro cameo, Brannon was still recently identified by Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo as the best power hitter the Red Sox drafted this year.

“While the baseline stats are nice to see, [Brannon’s] underlying exit velocity data is even more encouraging,” Collazo wrote on Monday, “with the best 90th percentile exit velocity mark (105 mph) of this Boston draft class.”

On the other side of the ball, there are questions about whether Brannon can stick behind the plate long-term. The 6-foot, 210-pounder is described by Baseball America as someone who “needs to improve his actions behind the plate as both a receiver and pitch blocker.” Although his arm strength stands out, Brannon did not throw out any of the three runners who tried to steal against him in the Florida Complex League.

“Brooks’ defensive skill set was one of the parts of his game that we were drawn to most,” Toboni said over the summer. “While he’s big and physical, he’s really flexible and athletic. He can get his body into some pretty unique positions, especially for a big, strong kid. We also think he has good hands behind the plate and an obviously strong arm. In our eyes, he possesses all the physical and mental traits to take off with professional instruction.”

Brannon, who does not turn 19 until next May, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 30 prospect in Boston’s farm system. That ranks third among backstops in the organization behind only Hickey and Connor Wong.

Given that he has just five FCL games under his belt, Brannon is expected to return to the rookie-level affiliate next summer. That being said, it would not be all that surprising if he made it up to Low-A Salem before the end of the 2023 season.

(Picture of Brooks Brannon: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox relief prospect Jacob Wallace ended his season by posting 1.38 ERA in final 19 appearances for Double-A Portland

In some respects, it was a tale of two seasons for Red Sox relief prospect Jacob Wallace.

After spending the entirety of the 2021 campaign with High-A Greenville, Wallace made the jump to Double-A Portland out of camp earlier this spring. The right-hander got off a tough start while going up more advanced competition, as he posted a 6.75 ERA in the month of April.

By the time the All-Star break arrived in late July, Wallace’s numbers had not improved much. Although he was holding opposing batters to a .191 batting average against, the 24-year-old was struggling with his command and walking nearly 22 percent of the batters he had faced to that point. That led to an ERA of 5.87 and a FIP of 5.96.

Maybe he worked on something or maybe he just took some time off. But whatever Wallace did over the course of the four-day summer break clearly worked.

From July 22 through the end of the regular season, Wallace pitched to a much-improved 1.38 ERA and 4.07 FIP to go along with 30 walks to 17 walks across 19 relief appearances spanning 26 innings of work. The free passes were still an issue to a certain extent, but the righty did manage to lower his walk rate down to 16.3 percent in the second half.

“I started off the year not doing so hot with the control,” Wallace told The Eagle-Tribune’s Mac Cerullo last month. “As much emphasis as there is always with it, I struggled a little bit. I was getting in my own head with my mechanics and beating myself out there, which haltered a good season right out of the gate. But I worked on it all year long and the mechanics kind of clicked, and that’s helped me get better control and keep the walks down.”

A native of Methuen, Mass., Wallace was originally selected by the Rockies in the third round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Connecticut. The following September, the Red Sox acquired the local hurler as the player to be named later in the August 2020 trade that sent veteran outfielder Kevin Pillar to Colorado.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Wallace is described by SoxProspects.com as having “among the best raw stuff for a true relief prospect in the system, with the potential for two plus pitches.” Those two pitches — a high-90s fastball and mid-80s slider — are now complemented by a changeup and a cutter.

“I’m still getting the perfect location on it and trying to get it inside to lefties and away to righties and locating that really well, but overall feeling great throwing it,” Wallace said. “Just pure confidence going into the game knowing if [the catcher] puts down a cutter I’m going to throw it for a strike, swing and miss, whatever I need.”

Wallace, who does not turn 25 until next August, can become Rule 5-eligible this off-season if he is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by the November deadline. Assuming he remains in the organization through the winter, it appears likely he will break camp with Triple-A Worcester in the spring.

“I’m going at my pace. I feel like what I’ve learned this year would have been lost on me if I’d just jumped up to Worcester early with a good start,” said Wallace. “I wouldn’t have grown as a player as much as I did this year sticking around in Portland. It’s honestly perfect that I haven’t moved up, and growing as a player down here and being able to really feel comfortable down here and gain that confidence, pitching against the Double-A guys because they’re good enough as it is. But I’m excited for that next step and that’s on the Red Sox to tell me when that’s the case.”

(Picture of Jacob Wallace: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox pitching prospect Victor Santos tosses 5 one-run innings in final start of season for Triple-A Worcester

Victor Santos ended his first full season in the Red Sox organization on a strong note Monday night.

In his final start of the year for Triple-A Worcester, Santos held the Rochester Red Wings to just one run on four hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts over five solid innings of work.

The right-hander very well could have pitched deeper into the game after only throwing 72 pitches (49 strikes) through five, but it was ultimately called in the top of the sixth due to rain in the Rochester-area. And so the WooSox came away with a 6-1 win over the Red Wings while Santos was credited with a complete-game victory.

Monday’s performance continued an encouraging trend for Santos that dates back to August 25. In his final six starts of the season for Worcester, the 22-year-old hurler posted a 1.91 ERA and 2.45 FIP with 39 strikeouts to just nine walks across 33 frames.

This comes after Santos initially struggled when he first made the jump from Double-A Portland to Worcester last month. The Dominican-born righty was tagged for 17 runs in his first three starts (10 2/3 innings) for the WooSox before turning things around in late August.

Prior to earning that aforementioned promotion, Santos had pitched to a 4.97 ERA and 4.78 FIP with 79 punchouts to 20 walks over 19 appearances (16 starts) spanning 101 1/3 innings for the Sea Dogs to begin the 2022 campaign.

The Red Sox originally acquired Santos from the Phillies as the player to be named later in the January 2021 trade that sent minor-league infielder C.J. Chatham to Philadelphia. He made his organizational debut in Portland last July.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 191 pounds, Santos throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 90-92 mph four-seam fastball that tops out at 93 mph, a low-90s sinker, an 82-84 mph split-changeup, and an 83-86 mph slider, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Although he has already reached Triple-A and does not turn 23 until next July, Santos is not currently regarded by any major publication as one of the top pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system. He is instead viewed by sites such as SoxProspects.com as a “potential solid organizational starter” who has the “ceiling of an emergency up-and-down depth arm.”

That being said, Santos can become Rule 5-eligible this winter. If left unprotected by the Red Sox, he could be scooped up by another team in December. Assuming he does not get picked up, though, Santos would seemingly be in line to return to Worcester’s rotation for the start of the 2023 season.

(Picture of Victor Santos: Katie Morrison/MassLive)

Red Sox prospect Allan Castro takes another step forward in first season stateside

Allan Castro can no longer be called the reigning Red Sox Latin Program Position Player of the Year. That distinction now falls to infielder/outfielder Andy Lugo, who received the honor on Monday.

Castro, however, put together a strong first season in the United States after being named the organization’s Latin Program Position Player of the Year in 2021.

Following a 2021 campaign in which he posted a .756 OPS in the Dominican Summer League, Castro made the jump to the Florida Complex League for the start of the 2022 season. In 39 games with Boston’s rookie-level affiliate in Fort Myers, the switch-hitter slashed a respectable .279/.355/.451 with four doubles, four triples, three home runs, 17 RBIs, 19 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 13 walks, and 32 strikeouts over 141 plate appearances.

Though he may have been overshadowed by fellow outfielder Miguel Bleis, Castro still ranked 11th in batting average, 26th in on-base percentage, eighth in slugging percentage, ninth in OPS (.805), 11th in isolated power (.172), 13th in speed score (7.8), and 11th in wRC+ (122) among FCL hitters who made at least 140 trips to the plate this season, per FanGraphs.

Not long after the Florida Complex League season came to a close, Castro and several other Red Sox minor-leaguers earned a promotion to Low-A Salem. He registered just one hit in his first five games with Salem but ended the year by going 5-for-18 (.278) with a double, a triple, four RBIs, and five runs scored in his final five games.

“Castro took a significant step forward this season,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email. “He’s continued to grow and gained a lot of strength. Additionally, he found ways to make his swing more efficient and started using the whole field more often.”

Between the two affiliates, Castro logged 232 1/3 innings in left field, 84 innings in center field, and 24 innings in right field. The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder recorded four outfield assists and committed just one error all year.

“His athleticism is starting to show itself more on the field,” Romero said. “He is sort of a sleeper prospect who we expect will do more things in 2023.”

Castro, 19, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 53 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally signed the native Dominican for $100,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Santo Domingo in July 2019.

At that time, Castro was a middle infielder, but he has since made the transition to the outfield and figures to stick there moving forward. Taking into account that he does not turn 20 until next May, Castro is projected by SoxProspects.com to return to Salem for the start of the 2023 season.

(Picture of Allan Castro: Bryan Green/Flickr)

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 pitching prospect Juan Daniel Encarnacion to High-A Greenville

The Red Sox have promoted pitching prospect Juan Daniel Encarnacion from Low-A Salem to High-A Greenville, per the team’s minor-league transactions log.

Encarnacion, 21, has posted a 4.09 ERA and 3.33 FIP with 119 strikeouts to 39 walks over 24 appearances (23 starts) spanning 103 1/3 innings of work for Salem this season. That includes a 2.92 ERA across his last eight starts dating back July 15.

Among qualified Carolina League pitchers, Encarnacion ranks third in strikeouts per nine innings (10.36), fourth in strikeout rate (26.7%), sixth in groundball rate (43.9%), fifth in WHIP (1.30), second in FIP, and fourth in xFIP (4.12), per FanGraphs. The right-hander was named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week during the first week of June.

This is Encarnacion’s fourth full season in pro ball. The Red Sox originally signed the native Dominican for $40,000 as an international free-agent coming out of San Pedro de Macoris in September 2018. He made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League the following June and pitched to a 3.86 ERA over 14 starts.

After the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the 2020 minor-league season getting cancelled, Encarnacion returned to affiliated ball last year and produced a 2.96 ERA over 12 outings (10 starts) and 45 2/3 innings in the rookie-level Florida Complex League.

Despite the relatively strong numbers he has put up at three different levels now, Encarnacion is not yet regarded by any major publication as one of the top pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system. Perhaps that has to do with his stuff.

According to SoxProspects.com, the lanky 6-foot-2, 173-pound righty operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a sinking 90-93 mph fastball that tops out at 94 mph, a 76-81 mph slider, and an 84-85 mph changeup. He “could develop into a very intriguing prospect” if his arsenal continues to improve.

Encarnacion, who does not turn 22 until next March, was not the only Red Sox pitching prospect to make the jump to Greenville on Tuesday. Fellow righties Graham Hoffman and Nate Tellier have also joined the Drive’s pitching staff, while Joey Stock was placed on the 7-day injured list due to a hand abrasion.

(Picture of Juan Daniel Encarnacion: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Red Sox prospect Max Ferguson homers for first time since being acquired from Padres

Max Ferguson hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox organization in High-A Greenville’s 9-4 win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Sunday afternoon.

Batting ninth and starting at shortstop for the Drive, Ferguson went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and one run scored. His homer came off right-hander Anthony Molina with two outs in the fifth inning and was good for three runs.

That performance wrapped up a solid weekend for Ferguson, who — over the course of three games — went 3-for-10 with two singles, the three-run home run, and two runs scored. He also drew three walks while not striking out at all.

Since being acquired from the Padres earlier this month, the versatile left-handed hitter has batted .225/.392/.325 (110 wRC+) to go along with one double, one home run, six runs driven in, 10 runs scored, three stolen bases, and 11 walks to 11 strikeouts in his first 12 games (51 plate appearances) with the Drive.

Defensively, Ferguson has seen playing time at three different positions while in Greenville. The 6-foot-1, 180 pounder has logged 25 innings at second base, 51 innings at shortstop, and 27 innings in center field.

Ferguson, who turns 23 on Tuesday, was originally selected by the Padres in the fifth round of last year’s amateur draft out of the University of Tennessee. The Jacksonville, Fla. native signed with the club for approximately $324,100.

At that time, Baseball America ranked Ferguson as the No. 168 prospect in the 2021 draft class. The publication noted that The Bolles School product is “a good athlete and a plus runner who has always stolen bases at a high success rate.”

Since making his professional debut in the Arizona Complex League last July, Ferguson has stolen 73 bases in 79 attempts across 140 minor-league games. The speedster began his first full season with Low-A Lake Elsinore before earning a promotion to High-A Fort Wayne in late June. He then proceeded to slash .162/.270/.343 in 27 games with the TinCaps through the end of July.

Shortly after the calendar flipped from July to August, Ferguson and teammate Corey Rosier were traded to the Red Sox along with veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer. In return for those three, the Padres acquired pitching prospect Jay Groome.

So, between Fort Wayne and Greenville, Ferguson has appeared in 39 games at the High-A level this season. Among the 338 hitters who have made at least 170 trips to the plate across the three different High-A leagues, Ferguson ranks 25th in speed score (8.1) and 75th in weighted stolen base runs (0.6), per FanGraphs.

While his speed and athleticism certainly stand out, Ferguson is not yet regarded by Baseball America as one of the top 30 prospects in Boston’s farm system. SoxProspects.com, on the other hand, ranks Ferguson one spot below Rosier at No. 57.

(Picture of Max Ferguson: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox promote pitching prospect Luis Perales to Low-A Salem

With Wikelman Gonzalez and Luis Guerrero making the jump to High-A Greenville, the Red Sox have promoted pitching prospect Luis Perales from the Florida Complex League to Low-A Salem, according to SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield.

Perales, 19, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 24 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks ninth among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally signed the Venezuelan-born right-hander for $75,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Guacara in July 2019.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the 2020 minor-league season, Perales did not make his professional debut until last July. But he was limited to just two innings in his first and only start in the Dominican Summer League because of a minor arm injury.

Despite being shut down for the remainder of the 2021 campaign, Perales began the 2022 season in the rookie-level Florida Complex League. From there, the righty posted a miniscule 1.08 ERA and 2.34 FIP to go along with 34 strikeouts to nine walks over nine appearances (seven starts) spanning 25 innings of work for Boston’s Fort Myers-based affiliate.

Among FCL pitchers who have thrown at least 20 innings to this point in the year, Perales (as of Thursday morning) ranks 19th in strikeouts per nine innings (12.24), fifth in strikeout rate (36.2%), 16th in swinging strike rate (35.9%), third in batting average against (.119), fourth in WHIP (0.76), sixth in ERA, fifth in FIP, and 18th in xFIP (3.13), per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds, Perales throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s fastball that tops out at 96-98 mph, an advanced curveball that sits in the mid-70s, and a developing changeup.

On top of all that, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall recently tweeted that, according to some scouts, Perales has been the best pitcher in the FCL this year.

Perales, who does not turn 20 until next April, still has plenty of room to grow physically and developmentally. With that, if all goes well to close out this season, he will likely return to Salem next spring if he remains in the organization through the winter.

(Picture of Luis Perales: Bryan Green/Flickr)