Red Sox prospect Nick Northcut sets new single-season home run record for High-A Greenville

Red Sox power-hitting prospect Nick Northcut etched his name into Greenville Drive history on Wednesday afternoon.

In the fourth inning of High-A Greenville’s 9-4 win over Hudson Valley in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., Northcut clubbed a two-run home run off Renegades starter Blas Castano to left-center field.

It was Northcut’s 25th big fly of the year, meaning he had surpassed Tyler Dearden for the most single-season home runs in Drive history. Dearden (now with Double-A Portland) needed 91 games to hit 24 home runs last year.

Northcut, on the other hand, only needed 72 games to mash 25 homers for Greenville this season. Following Wednesday’s two-hit, two-RBI performance, the right-handed hitting infielder is now batting .221/.283/.529 with 10 doubles, 25 runs driven in, 40 runs scored, 19 walks, and 108 strikeouts across his first 300 plate appearances at the High-A level.

Among qualified South Atlantic League hitters, Northcut currently ranks first in home runs, third in RBIs, second in slugging percentage, 15th in OPS (.812), first in isolated power (.308), and first in at-bats per home run (11.04), per MiLB.com’s leaderboards.

Defensively, Northcut made his 39th start of the season at third base on Wednesday. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder has logged 337 1/3 innings at the hot corner as well as 228 innings at first base and six innings at shortstop.

Northcut, 23, was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 11th round of the 11th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of William Mason High School. The Ohio native forwent his commitment to Vanderbilt University by signing with the club for $565,000.

Despite the impressive power numbers he has put up this year, Northcut is not regarded by industry publications such as Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, or SoxProspects as one of the top-ranked prospects in Boston’s farm system.

That likely has to do with Northcut’s low on-base percentage, low walk rate (6.3%), and high strikeout rate (36%). If Northcut can improve upon those tendencies, perhaps he could earn garner more recognition and even earn a promotion to Portland before season’s end.

(Picture of Nick Northcut: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospect Nick Northcut has homered 4 times in last 2 games as he approaches High-A Greenville’s single-season record

Nick Northcut became the first Red Sox minor-leaguer to reach the 20 home run plateau this season in High-A Greenville’s 3-2 win over the Asheville Tourists at Fluor Field on Saturday night.

After going deep three times on Friday, Northcut went 1-for-3 on Saturday with two RBIs, one scored, and one strikeout while batting third and starting at first base for the Drive.

His latest homer came with one out and one runner on in the sixth inning. Matched up against Tourists starter Rhett Kouba, Northcut took the right-hander deep over everything in left field to give the Drive a 3-2 lead.

Prior to Friday’s outburst, Northcut was in the midst of a 12-for-77 (.156) slump over his last 20 games dating back to May 15. Following Saturday’s performance, the right-handed-hitting slugger is now batting .229/.278/.573 with six doubles, those 20 home runs, 45 RBIs, 29 runs scored, 10 walks, and 77 strikeouts across 49 games (205 plate appearances) this season.

Among qualified South Atlantic League hitters, Northcut ranks first in home runs, tied for first in RBIs, second in slugging percentage, eighth in OPS (.851), first in isolated power (.344), and first in at-bats per home run (9.6), per MiLB.com’s leaderboards.

Defensively, the 6-foot-1, 205 pound infielder has logged 190 innings at first base (9 of which came on Saturday), 200 1/3 innings at third base, and six innings at shortstop for the first time in his professional career.

Northcut, who turns 23 on Monday, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the 60th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally selected the Ohio native in the 11th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Mason High School and swayed him away from his commitment to Vanderbilt University by signing him for $565,000.

In addition to the power he possesses from the right side of the plate, there is a fair amount of swing-and-miss in Northcut’s game as indicated by his 38.1% strikeout rate (fifth-highest in the Sally League) and 4.9% walk rate (third-lowest in the Sally League).

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, however, the Red Sox are not too concerned about Northcut’s strikeout tendencies since he is generally doing a quality job of swinging at the right pitches and staying away from the ones out of the zone.

“He’s missing some pitches that we think he can hit, but he’s doing a fantastic job not chasing,” hitting coordinator Reed Gragnani told Speier last month. “We can coach that. … If he gets better at making contact in the zone, even at an average rate in MLB or even at this level, then you’re talking about a premium power hitter that can hit .270 with the damage.”

With 20 home runs already under his belt, Northcut is fast-approaching Greenville’s single-season home run record of 24, which was set by outfield prospect Tyler Dearden, who is now with Double-A Portland, just last year.

It took Dearden 91 games and until September 12 to accomplish that feat. At the pace he is currently on, it will not take Northcut nearly as long to etch his name into Drive history.

(Picture of Nick Northcut: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Red Sox outfield prospect Tyler Dearden joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Red Sox outfield prospect Tyler Dearden.

Dearden, 23, was originally selected by Boston in the 29th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Rancocas Valley Regional High School (N.J.).

He just put together a 2021 season in which he slashed .261/.368/.523 with a record-setting 24 home runs and 80 RBI over 97 games (418 plate appearances) at High-A Greenville.

Among the topics Tyler and I discussed are what it was like playing against fellow Red Sox prospects Jay Groome and Nick Decker while in high school, what led him to go pro out of high school, how he used the COVID-19 shutdown last year to improve his craft, how not getting invited to fall instructs last year served as motivation for him this season, what he thought about some of his teammates at Greenville (like Nick Yorke), how he plans on spending the offseason, what he has in store for 2022, and much more!

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

My thanks to Tyler for taking some time out of his schedule to have this conversation with me. You can follow him on Twitter (@tylerdearden) by clicking here and on Instagram (@tylerdearden) 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 Tyler Dearden via his Instagram)