Red Sox pitching prospects Jeremy Wu-Yelland, Shane Drohan strike out 9 batters in respective starts for High-A Greenville, Low-A Salem

The two pitching prospects the Red Sox selected in last year’s amateur draft certainly showed out for their respective affiliates on Thursday night.

Jeremy Wu-Yelland, taken by the Sox in the fourth round out of the University of Hawaii, and Shane Drohan, taken in the fifth round out of Florida State University, each struck out a season-high of nine batters in their starts — which took place at the same time, but approximately 260 miles away from one another.

Wu-Yelland, who was just promoted to High-A Greenville earlier in the day, made his debut for the Drive a memorable one by tossing five scoreless, no-hit innings against the Asheville Tourists (Astros affiliate) at Fluor Field.

In addition to not allowing a run or hit, the left-hander worked his way around four walks and a hit batsman while striking out those nine batters.

Two of those four walks — and the HBP — issued by Wu-Yelland came in consecutive order to begin things in the top half of the third inning, thus loading the bases with no outs for Asheville.

The 22-year-old southpaw did not buckle under the pressure, however, and instead locked in by punching out Freudis Nova on three pitches before getting Shay Whitcomb to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

From there, Wu-Yelland struck out the side for the second time in the fourth and followed that up by retiring the final three hitters he faced in the fifth to end his outing on an encouraging note.

Of the 72 pitches Wu-Yelland threw on Thursday, 43 went for strikes. Six of his strikeouts were swinging, two were looking, and one was on a foul tip.

The Greenville bullpen took over for Wu-Yelland in the sixth and ensured that the lefty’s efforts would not go to waste as relievers Jose Espada, Oddanier Mosqueda, and Jacob Wallace saw the combined no-hit bid through to its completion.

In helping the Drive throw their fourth no-hitter in team history, Wu-Yelland was able to earn his first victory at the High-A level in his very first start there.

Prior to getting promoted on Thursday, the Seattle-area native had spent the entirety of the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Salem, where he had posted a 4.03 ERA and 4.28 FIP to go along with 77 strikeouts to 36 walks over 20 starts spanning 67 innings pitched.

Listed at an imposing 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Wu-Yelland — who was signed as a junior out of Hawaii by J.J. Altobelli — is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 12th among pitchers in the organization.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Wu-Yelland “is one of the most explosive, powerful pitchers in Boston’s system” as he operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a high-octane fastball, a slider, and a changeup.

30 picks after taking Wu-Yelland in the fourth round of last summer’s draft, the Red Sox selected a fellow left-hander in the fifth round in the form of Drohan, who was also sharp for Low-A Salem on Thursday in the first game of their seven-inning doubleheader against the Fredericksburg Nationals at Haley Toyota Field.

Over five quality innings of work, Drohan surrendered just one earned run while scattering just four hits and no walks with a season-high nine strikeouts on the night.

Drohan, also 22, faced all of 14 batters — just two over the minimum — through his first four frames, but ran into some trouble in the top half of the fifth when he yielded back-to-back one out doubles to Jaden Fein and Jose Sanchez, resulting in Fredericksburg plating their first run.

A wild pitch allowed Sanchez to move up to third, though Drohan managed to strand him there by sitting down the final two hitters he faced to retire the side in the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (53 strikes), the Florida State product was able to pick up his sixth winning decision of the season while also lowering his ERA on the year down to 3.89.

Through 20 starts with Salem now, Drohan has pitched to the tune of a 3.89 ERA, a .241 batting average against, and a 1.40 WHIP to go along with 75 strikeouts to 40 walks in 78 2/3 total innings of work.

A former 23-round draft pick of the Phillies out of high school who opted to honor his commitment to Florida State in 2017, Drohan is not regarded by Baseball America as one of the top 30 prospects in Boston’s farm system.

The 6-foot-3, 195 pound Florida native is, however, regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 32 prospect in the Red Sox organization, as his pitch arsenal is currently comprised of a 90-92 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a 77-79 mph curveball, and 80-83 mph changeup.

Both Wu-Yelland and Drohan can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after the 2023 season, so there is no rush for the Red Sox to add either hurler to their 40-man roster at the moment.

(Picture of Jeremy Wu-Yelland: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

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 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)

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)

Red Sox infield prospect Cam Cannon off to strong start (.917 OPS, 158 wRC+) with High-A Greenville

For as much talk as there has been about what top Red Sox prospects Triston Casas and Nick Yorke have done since the start of the 2021 minor-league season, it’s easy to look past what another Sox infield prospect — Cam Cannon — is doing this month.

Like Casas and Yorke, Cannon was the first player the Red Sox selected in his respective draft. Unlike Casas and Yorke, though, Cannon was taken in the second round of the 2019 amateur draft, while Casas and Yorke were taken in the first rounds of the 2018 and 2020 amateur drafts.

The reason the Sox had to wait until the second round of the 2019 first-year player draft to make their first selection was due to the fact that they were penalized for exceeding the luxury tax threshold by more than $40 million the previous year.

Had they not incurred such a harsh penalty, Boston would have made their first pick in 2019 at No. 33 overall, but the luxury tax violation resulted in that pick falling 10 spots to No. 43 overall.

At that point, the Red Sox took Cannon, then a 21-year-old junior at the University of Arizona, off the board and ultimately signed him for $1.3 million that June.

After three games in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, Cannon was called up to short-season Lowell, where he slashed .205/.289/.335 with three home runs, 21 RBI, 17 runs scored, 12 walks, and 37 strikeouts over 42 games to close out his first summer as a pro.

Like all 2019 draft picks, the Arizona native’s ongoing development was suddenly halted when the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With no minor-league season and no invitation to the Sox’ alternate training site, Cannon was limited to the fall instructional league last year, where he “garnered generally tepid reviews from scouts who saw him” there, according to FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen.

Coming into 2021, Cannon — unlike Casas and Yorke — also did not receive an invite to major-league spring training, so he had to wait until minor-league camp began in April to get back into the swing of things.

Despite the long layoff, the 23-year-old was assigned to High-A Greenville at the beginning of May and has gotten his 2021 campaign off to a strong start.

Through 17 games with the Drive, Cannon — who has primarily been batting out of the leadoff spot — is hitting a solid .313/.365/.552 to go along with three home runs, seven doubles, eight RBI, 12 runs scored, two stolen bases, five walks, and 12 strikeouts over 74 plate appearances thus far.

Among the top qualified hitters in the High-A East, the right-handed hitter ranks first in doubles, first in extra-base hits (10), third in total hits (21), 11th in runs scored, ninth in batting average, 24th in on-base percentage, eighth in slugging percentage, 10th in OPS (.917), 14th in weighted on-base average (.405), and 14th in wRC+ (158), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Cannon was drafted as a shortstop. But questions about his arm strength have resulted in him making the shift over to the right side of the infield, as he has played 11 games at second base compared to just three at shortstop for Greenville so far this season.

In those 14 games between second base and shortstop, the 5-foot-10, 196 pound infielder has committed a total of two errors over 114 total defensive innings.

There also seems to be some speculation that he could see playing time in left field if he were to make the move to the outfield down the line.

Back in March, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote of Cannon: “Early returns from 2021 will tell a lot about where his development is going.”

Just under three weeks into the 2021 minor-league season, and early returns on Cannon’s performance in Greenville appear to indicate that the young infielder is trending in the right direction.

(Picture of Cam Cannon: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Rule 5 picks Tyreque Reed (1.166 OPS at High-A), Kaleb Ort (0.00 ERA at Triple-A) among early Red Sox minor-league standouts

Back in December, the Red Sox selected right-hander Garrett Whitlock from the Yankees in the major-league phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft.

Since arriving in Fort Myers for the start of spring training in February, Whitlock has done nothing but impress in his time in a Red Sox uniform to this point.

Through his first 10 appearances out of Boston’s bullpen this season, the 24-year-old rookie owns an ERA of 1.77 and an xFIP of 2.92 in addition to 21 strikeouts to just three walks over 20 1/3 innings of work.

To say that Whitlock — who had not pitched above Double-A and underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2019 before joining the Red Sox — has been one of the club’s biggest and brightest surprises this year would be an understatement.

Having said that, though, Whitlock is not the only player the Sox selected in last December’s Rule 5 Draft that has gotten his 2021 campaign off to an impressive start.

In addition to taking Whitlock, Boston also selected first baseman Tyreque Reed from the Rangers and right-hander Kaleb Ort from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the draft.

Reed, who turns 24 next month, is a former 2017 eighth-round draft pick who played for three Texas affiliates over three seasons before joining the Red Sox organization over the winter.

Known for his power, Reed — listed at 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds — has been crushing the ball with High-A Greenville so far this spring.

Over his first eight games with the Drive, the right-handed hitter is slashing .240/.406/760 with four home runs, nine RBI, nine runs scored, and five walks in 32 trips to the plate.

His latest home run was a walk-off piece that gave Greenville a 10-9 win over the Brooklyn Cyclones at Fluor Field on Sunday.

Among the top hitters in the High-A East (formerly the South Atlantic League), Reed ranks second in homers, 10th in RBI, 11th in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, and second in OPS (1.166).

The Mississippi native has also struck out in 25% of his plate appearances, which he has shown the tendency to do. But by getting on-base at a solid .406 clip, Reed has proven to be effective at the plate thus far, as evidenced by his early 207 wRC+.

“Power bat,” Red Sox vice president of pro scouting Gus Quattlebaum said of Reed this past December. “Big, physical right-handed hitting first baseman with big, big power that you see not only with the scout’s naked eye but also with the batted ball data. There’s a propensity from some strikeouts. We know he’s not immune to that. We really believe in the power potential. We’re really excited to bring him into the organization.”

Kaleb Ort, meanwhile, was selected by the Red Sox in the minor-league portion of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft after spending the previous four seasons as a member of the Yankees organization.

Unlike Reed, Ort was not drafted out of college and instead began his professional career in the Frontier League (independent) before signing as an undrafted free-agent with the Diamondbacks in 2016.

After being cut by Arizona the following spring, the Michigan native returned to the Frontier League before signing with New York in May 2017.

While with the Yankees, Ort appeared in a total of 90 games across five levels between 2017-2019 prior to getting scooped up by the Red Sox in December.

After receiving an invite to big-league camp in February, the 6-foot-4, 233 pound hurler opened the 2021 season at the Sox’ alternate training site and later Triple-A Worcester.

In six appearances out of the WooSox’ bullpen thus far, the 29-year-old has been lights out, as he has allowed just one unearned run on three hits and no walks to go along with nine strikeouts over six innings pitched. He has also converted four of a possible four save opportunities in the process of emerging as Worcester’s primary closer.

“Kaleb Ort is a guy who has really stood out to me, he took the closer role and ran with it,” WooSox pitching coach Paul Abbott recently told MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison. “He’s come in and slammed the door without really any threat of a hiccup at all. He’s throwing strikes, aggressive, and he’s been impressive.”

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Ort works with a two-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s fastball that can top out at 98 mph and a slider.

That two-pitch mix has proven to be a potent combination for the righty reliever thus far, as he is holding opponents to a .150 batting average against while boasting a 40.9% strikeout rate, a 0.89 FIP, and a 2.20 xFIP.

What Ort has been doing in Worcester has caught the attention of Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who got to first know him earlier this year during spring training.

“He’s a good one,” Cora said before Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays . “His stuff plays. I really like what I saw. Velocity got better in spring training and he was throwing the ball well down there. He’s a guy we’re looking at, obviously, for the right reasons. We’re very excited with what he’s doing, what he did in spring training and what he can do, probably, in the future.”

With that, it sounds as though Ort could garner big-league consideration at some point this season if he continues to turn heads while closing out games for the WooSox.

Because the 2021 minor-league season is less than two full weeks old, it’s no sure thing that either one of Reed or Ort will be able to keep up with the level at which they are performing at at the moment.

Still, what these two Red Sox minor-league Rule 5 picks have done in their first month with their new organization has been eye-opening to say the least. If they can keep it up over the course of the summer will be something worth monitoring for sure.

(Picture of Kaleb Ort: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Brian Van Belle a Red Sox pitching prospect to watch as minor-league season begins this week

Of the 16 undrafted free agents the Red Sox signed following last June’s draft, none might stick out more than right-handed pitching prospect Brian Van Belle.

Van Belle was reportedly one of the most sought-after seniors in the 2020 unsigned free agent class before inking his first professional contract with the Sox in June.

Regarded at the time by Baseball America as the 16th-ranked draft-eligible senior, the 6-foot-2, 187 pound hurler had just put the finishing touches on a successful college career at the University of Miami.

In two seasons with the Hurricanes (2019-2020) after transferring from Broward College, Van Belle emerged as Miami’s Friday night ace while posting a 2.74 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and a 122:28 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 20 starts and 121 2/3 total innings pitched.

Because of the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the southern Florida native really did not get the chance to work under the Red Sox’ watchful eye until the team began their fall instructional league in Fort Myers.

There, according to SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall, Van Belle showed why he was highly sought-after as an undrafted free agent.

“Van Belle’s bread and butter is his changeup, a plus offering and a potential difference maker,” Cundall wrote back in November. “Van Belle also showed an average fastball at 89-93 mph and below-average curveball at 77-80 mph. The changeup separated him from a lot of the younger arms who are still refining their secondary pitches and gives him a high floor of at least an organizational arm, especially with his command profile.”

Coming off that impressive showing at fall instructs, the 24-year-old came into the 2021 minor-league season ranked as the No. 53 prospect in Boston’s farm system, per SoxProspects.com.

Cundall recently updated Van Belle’s SoxProspects.com scouting report, writing that the righty “always competes [and is] used to pitching in big spots. [Possesses] strong pitchability and feel on the mound.”

As this highly-anticipated minor-league season is set to begin on Tuesday, Van Belle will start the year in High-A Greenville’s starting rotation.

The fact that Van Belle was assigned to Greenville makes him the only member of Boston’s 2020 undrafted free-agent class to begin the 2021 season at a level as high as High-A. The other 15 members are either starting at Low-A Salem or extended spring training.

(Picture of Brian Van Belle: Al Diaz/Miami Herald)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall.

Among the topics Ian and I discussed are how he got his start in scouting, how he is looking forward to the return of minor-league baseball next week, what he thought about brand-new Polar Park in Worcester, his thoughts on what the Red Sox could do in this summer’s draft, his impression of the Sox’ farm system under Chaim Bloom heading into the 2021 minor-league season, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Ian for taking some time out of his busy schedule to have a conversation with me. You can follow Ian on Twitter (@IanCundall) by clicking here. You can check out his work for SoxProspects.com by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Polar Park: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Red Sox outfield prospect Armando Sierra could prove to be underrated member of team’s 2021 international signing class

The Red Sox made a splash in the international free-agent market this winter by signing Dominican outfield prospect Miguel Bleis for $1.5 million back in January.

Appearing on the SoxProspects.com podcast with Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall in February, Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero described Bleis as a “premium centerfield talent” who has “got all five tools” in addition to “surprising power” and “an absolute hose of an arm.”

While Bleis has stolen the headlines and has already shot up the prospect charts (Boston’s No. 22 prospect according to Baseball America), there is another 17-year-old outfielder the Sox signed out of the Dominican who deserves some attention as well.

That outfield prospect’s name? Armando Sierra, who hails from the same city as fellow outfielder Gilberto Jimenez and right-hander Denyi Reyes (San Cristobal).

In his review of what the Red Sox have done thus far during the 2021 international signing period, Baseball America’s Ben Badler identified Sierra as his ‘sleeper [to] watch.’

“Armando Sierra is a corner outfielder from the Dominican Republic with a chance to hit and hit for power,” Badler wrote of the right-handed hitter last week. “He’s a physically imposing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds with an advanced approach to hitting for his age, keeping the bat head in the hitting zone for a long time that helps him drive the ball with power to all fields. He’s a limited runner whose offensive game will drive his value.” 

Sierra, who signed with the Sox for a bonus of $150,000 on January 15, does not turn 18 until next January.

“Armando was a player we scouted later on in his signing year. After scouting him a few times, he stood out for his strong frame and his power,” Romero recently told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email. “As we continued to see him, it became apparent that not only did he have above average power for his signing class, but he also was developing a stronger approach.

“Since his signing, Sierra has lost close to 20 pounds while gaining muscle working out at our academy,” added Romero. “He continues to improve defensively and is also featuring an above average arm (which was not the case during his scouting trials).”

The young outfielder will likely begin the 2021 minor-league season with one of the Red Sox’ rookie-level, Dominican Summer League teams. In fact, as Romero indicated, he’s already training at the team’s Dominican academy in El Toro, a town just outside of Santo Domingo.

Other recent Red Sox international signees highlighted by Badler include catcher Enderso Lira, right-handers Alvaro Mejias and Jedixson Paez, and shortstops Luis Ravelo and Ahbram Liendo.

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

Ranking the top 37 prospects in the Red Sox farm system heading into the 2021 season

The Red Sox are heading into the 2021 season with the 20th-ranked farm system in baseball according to Baseball America. That’s the same ranking they received going into the 2020 campaign as well.

Despite finishing with the fourth-worst record in baseball last year at 24-36, the 2020 season did net some positives for the Sox in terms of producing new, young, and controllable talent.

Just in terms of prospects, Boston acquired the likes of right-hander Connor Seabold from the Phillies, right-hander Jacob Wallace from the Rockies, and infielder Hudson Potts and outfielder Jeisson Rosario from the Padres.

They also drafted infielders Nick Yorke and Blaze Jordan and righties Shane Drohan and Jeremy Wu-Yelland with their four picks in last year’s amateur draft.

From the time the 2021 season ended until now, the Sox have added the likes of catcher Ronaldo Hernandez, infielders Christian Koss and Nick Sogard, right-handers Garrett Whitlock, Frank German, Josh Winckowski, and Zach Bryant.

To put it simply, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has not only addressed his club’s depth at the major-league level; he’s done it on the minor-league side of things as well.

Taking that point into consideration, it would not be too shocking to see Boston rise through the farm system rankings this year, especially with someone like Yorke getting to play in actual, organized minor-league games at some point.

Having written all that, I would like to present to you who the experts believe are the top prospects in the Red Sox organization at the moment.

To compile this list of Boston’s brightest and youngest talent, I took prospect lists from four baseball or Red Sox-centered publications — Baseball America, SoxProspects.com, FanGraphs, MLB Pipeline — and took the averages of where each of these sites had particular prospects ranked.

For example, Triston Casas was regarded as the Sox’ top prospect by three sites, but the other had him as their No. 2 prospect in the system.

With those numbers in mind, I added 1+1+1+2 to get 5, then divided that number by the total number of sources (4) to get Casas’ average ranking: 1.25, which rounds down to 1.

I hope that makes sense, because here are the top 37 prospects in the Red Sox farm system based off that math heading into the 2021 season.

ProspectBaseball AmericaSoxProspectsFanGraphsMLB PipelineAverage Rank
Triston Casas11211
Jeter Downs22122
Bryan Mata43353
Jarren Duran54744
Bobby Dalbec36935
Gilberto Jimenez75466
Tanner Houck87677
Jay Groome6121288
Thaddeus Ward10813109
Noah Song121151410
Connor Seabold11981511
Nick Yorke91315912
Ronaldo HernandezN/A14N/A1213
Brainer Bonaci1815171614
Aldo Ramirez2210142015
Blaze Jordan1620211116
Matthew Lugo1417281317
Brayan Bello1923111918
Connor Wong1522191719
Jeisson Rosario2016162220
Hudson Potts2418182421
Eduard Bazardo2827102822
Chris Murphy1319431823
Jonathan Arauz2126N/AN/A24
Nick Decker2921242325
Jacob Wallace2524262926
Frank GermanN/A2825N/A27
Garrett Whitlock 1732303028
Chih-Jung Liu2334332129
Durbin FeltmanN/A3031N/A30
Cameron CannonN/A43232631
Ryan ZeferjahnN/A2538N/A32
Jorge RodriguezN/A2934N/A33
Juan ChaconN/A52222534
A.J. Politi2749372735
Ceddanne Rafaela2645N/AN/A36
Jeremy Wu-Yelland30N/A47N/A37
*The N/A you see next to some of these names means that that particular prospect was not included on a specific site’s list.

All in all, it’s not too shocking to see Casas, Jeter Downs, Bryan Mata, Jarren Duran, and Bobby Dalbec come in as the Red Sox’ top five prospects, though Dalbec is surely going to graduate from his prospect status this year.

The same can be said about right-hander Tanner Houck, who comes in at No. 7 on this list.

Other names worth mentioning include outfielder Gilberto Jimenez (No. 6), right-hander Noah Song (No. 10), infielder Brainer Bonaci (No. 14), catcher Connor Wong (No. 19), right-hander Eduard Bazardo (No. 22), right-hander Chih-Jung Liu (No. 29), and outfielder Juan Chacon (No. 34).

One notable snub on here would be 17-year-old outfielder Miguel Bleis, who the Red Sox recently signed out of the Dominican Republic for $1.5 million back in January.

Because I made this list myself, I cannot say with certainty that it is perfect. But, I enjoyed compiling the information to create it, and I hope it can serve as some use to those who find this sort of thing interesting.

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