Red Sox’ Miguel Bleis enters Baseball America’s top 100 prospects rankings

Red Sox outfield prospect Miguel Bleis has entered Baseball America’s top 100 rankings heading into the 2023 season.

Previously unranked, Bleis is now considered by the publication to be the 88th-ranked prospect in all of baseball. The 18-year-old was one of five Red Sox minor-leaguers to make the cut for the top-100 on Wednesday, joining the likes of Marcelo Mayer at No. 10, Triston Casas at No. 29, Ceddanne Rafaela at No. 71, and Masataka Yoshida at No. 87.

Bleis is already regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally signed the Dominican-born outfielder for $1.5 million as a highly-touted international free agent coming out of San Pedro de Macoris in January 2021.

After a solid pro debut in the Dominican Summer League, Bleis made the jump to the Florida Complex League last year. The right-handed hitter batted a stout .301/.353/.543 with 14 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 27 RBIs, 28 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 10 walks, and 45 strikeouts in 40 games (167 plate appearances) for Boston’s rookie-level affiliate.

Among qualified hitters in the Florida Complex League last season, Bleis ranked seventh in batting average, 24th in on-base percentage, third in slugging percentage, fourth in OPS (.896), 12th in line-drive rate (22.3 percent) second in isolated power (.242), tied for first in speed score (9.3), and sixth in wRC+ (142), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Bleis saw the majority of his playing time for the FCL Red Sox come in center field. The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder logged 310 1/3 innings in center and just five innings in right while registering a team-high five outfield assists, which is a testament to his arm strength.

Had he not been bothered by back soreness in late August, Bleis would have been promoted to Low-A Salem for the final few weeks of the 2022 campaign. The Red Sox instead opted to have Bleis stay back in Fort Myers to get healthy before sending him home for the winter.

Despite playing in just 40 minor-league games, Bleis still drew plenty of attention throughout the calendar year. Back in August, SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall tweeted that Bleis is “the prospect generating the most buzz in the Red Sox farm system right now.”

In late October, Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline tabbed Bleis as “Boston’s best international prospect since Rafael Devers,” noting that the former’s stock rose in 2022 since “he displayed his all-around ability to a larger audience while making his U.S. debut.”

Bleis, who turns 19 in March, is expected to begin the 2023 season in Salem, where he should serve as the Red Sox’ primary center fielder. There are some concerns about his approach at the plate, but he has time to work out those issues as he continues to develop. As the saying goes, Bleis’ potential is through the roof at the moment.

“He has five tools. That’s the reality,” Red Sox director of player development said of Bleis in a conversation with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings last September. “You don’t see that too often. What those five tools will ultimately (become), how they will pan out, not sure. But in terms of the tools, and in terms of the ability to impact the game in various ways, he does that. I think whenever you have a player who does those types of things, he’s someone you want to pay attention to and watch.”

(Picture of Miguel Bleis: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox’ Ceddanne Rafaela enters Baseball America’s top 100 prospects rankings

In the midst of a breakout season, Ceddanne Rafaela has entered Baseball America’s top-100 prospect rankings. Previously unranked, Rafaela is now regarded by Baseball America as the No. 84 prospect in all of baseball.

The Red Sox at present have five of the top 100-prospects in the game, as Rafaela joins the likes of shortstop Marcelo Mayer (No. 14), right-hander Brayan Bello (No. 24), first baseman Triston Casas (No. 29), and second baseman Nick Yorke (No. 50). Outfielder Jarren Duran was previously in the top-100 but has since graduated from his prospect status.

Boston’s reigning Minor League Defensive Player of the Year, Rafaela began the 2022 season with High-A Greenville. After posting a .729 OPS with Low-A Salem last season, the 21-year-old batted a stout .330/.368/.594 in 45 games with the Drive (he also hit for the cycle on May 17) before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland on June 7.

Since then, the right-handed hitting Rafaela has slashed a steady .287/.331/.574 to go along with six doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 19 RBIs, 21 runs scored, five stolen bases, five walks, and 23 strikeouts across his first 28 games (125 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs. Among Eastern League hitters who have made at least 120 plate appearances to this point in the season, Rafaela ranks 13th in batting average, second in slugging percentage, ninth in OPS (.905), third in isolated power (.287), second in speed score (8.8), and 16th in wRC+ (141), per FanGraphs.

On the other side of the ball, Rafaela has continued to impress defensively while playing several positions. So far in Portland, the versatile 5-foot-8, 152 pounder has logged 36 innings at shortstop and 197 innings in center field. He showed off his athleticism by robbing Mets prospect Brandon McIlwain of a game-tying home run in the fifth inning of Portland’s 7-4 win over the Binghamton Rumble Ponies on Friday.

Rafaela, who turns 22 in September, has come a long way from a development standpoint since signing with the Red Sox for just $10,000 as an international free agent coming out of Curacao in July 2017. Taking that into consideration, the Willemstad native is all but a lock to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster this fall in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

Both Rafaela and Bello, who also signed with Boston in 2017, will be representing the Red Sox organization in next weekend’s All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium. Bello, of course, may not be able to attend if he is still on the big-league roster.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)