It didn’t end the way they would’ve liked, but the Red Sox had a wonderful season, channeling some Tampa Bay ways with the help of Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom and employing smart management on the field with the help of Alex Cora. When the club signed Enrique Hernandez, few would have predicted a 4 (3.9) WAR season punctuated by a monster playoff run (.408/.423/.837 with 5 HR), but I feel pretty confident this won’t be the last time the current Boston braintrust generates All-Star outcomes from mid tier free agents. The scary part is they don’t have to. With a big payroll and stocked system, the Sox appear poised for a long contention cycle.
Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2022 | Highest level played | ETA
1. 1B Triston Casas | 22 | AAA | 2022
If you count the Arizona Fall League and the Olympics, Casas played in four different leagues this year. In 21 AFL games, Casas is slashing .372/.495/.487 with one home run, and while we might get a little greedy at the site of that, wanting more, Casas added six doubles, and besides that, who really cares about the details when a guy posts a .495 OBP, even for just 21 games in an exhibition league? Not me, except that I think it’s indicative of a journey well taken. Cases has learned late at-bat traits to help him hang against a variety of experienced pitchers, and perhaps he’s carried some of those hang-in-there strategies to early-count situations against pitchers he’s never seen before. Whatever it is, I like it.
2. SS Marcelo Mayer | 19 | CPX | 2025
His name makes me think of silent films. Also his potential is a wonderland. In 26 complex league games, the 6’3” 188 lb lefty-hitting shortstop slashed .275/.377/.440 with 3 HR and 7 SB. He’d been the near-consensus top player heading into the 2021 draft but fell to fourth, or priced himself to the fourth spot, as the lingo goes, and we invent ways to talk about how cool it is to pass on the best players during the draft. Scouts like him better at third base than shortstop, but scouts said the same thing about low-minors Carlos Correa, and he was the best defender at the position in 2021 according to many metrics. We’re often wrong when applying typical-path logic to elite athletes.
3. 2B Nick Yorke | 19 | A+ | 2023
Anyone who snagged Yorke last year is tasting the sensation. Boston’s fresh peppermint patty was 2.2 and 3.9 years younger than the average player at his two levels last season but slashed .325/.412/.516 with 14 HR and 13 SB across 97 games anyway, establishing himself as a high-end dynasty asset in the process. Hit tools are what you seek, in that format and across baseball in general, and Yorke’s stacks up pretty well with the elite in that area.
4. OF Jarren Duran | 25 | MLB | 2021
My memory for context invites me to make excuses sometimes when I want to be right. Which is good in some cases. Would be ridiculous to draw any long-term conclusions about a 33-game sample, especially when a player gets chewed up in the gears of modern media. I can’t say for sure the when’s-he-coming-up dialog around Duran had a negative impact on him, but the BoSox dragging their feet and talking about sending him to the Olympics in a couple months so he can’t play in the majors now? That’s weird. Had to be weird when Duran was white hot in AAA awaiting his big chance. In just 60 games there, Duran hit 16 HR, stole 16 bases, and slashed .258/.357/.516. All in all, it was a wild season: Duran’s 2020 swing change produced more power than anyone expected, and even as he struggled in the majors, the outline of an impact roto hitter was easy to see.
5. SS Jeter Downs | 23 | AAA | 2022
2021 was Downs’ worst year as a pro, who lost his swing inside a too-high leg kick and slashed .190/.272/.333 with 14 HR and 18 SB in 99 games. He’s doing better in the fall league, slashing .228/.389/.491 with 5 HR in 16 games. He was 4.4 years younger than the average player in AAA, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him bounce back; however, he’s got a lot of swing and miss in his game as the 5’11” 195 lb righty hunts for power.
6. 1B Blaze Jordan | 19 | A | 2024
Whatever you hear about Jordan, keep in mind that he’s played all of 28 games since being drafted in 2020 (89th overall), and 19 of those were complex league games, which I have no idea how to approach at this point. Nonetheless, I’m in on Jordan, especially as he fits the bucket of better-in-fantasy that sometimes keeps a high-probability corner infield prospect undervalued as the fantasy world takes its lead from real-baseball prospect lists. In those 28 games, Jordan smoked six home runs and slashed .324/.368/.590. If he hits that way next year for 100 games or so split across two levels, he’ll be a major trade piece in dynasty leagues, at minimum. Suppose that could be said of anybody, but Jordan was perhaps the best high school power bat in his draft class, so he’s got sturdier list-climbing boots than most.
7. RHP Brayan Bello | 22 | AA | 2022
Bello added strength and velocity over the lost minor league season and now features a mid-90s fastball with a little extra dotting the gun once in a while. He was successful enough before, as we’ve detailed in these pages, but now he’s striking out 36.9 percent of hitters in High-A and 31.1 percent in AA—a big jump from the 22.6 percent he posted in 2019. His fastball gets a bit too much for his to be a no-doubt starters profile unless he finds a nasty breaking ball to go along with his plus changeup.
8. OF Gilberto Jimenez | 21 | A | 2024
Bit of a surprise this week as Jimenez was left off the 40-man roster and exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Click here to read more about Bloom’s thinking on that front.
For the time being, we’ll leave Jimenez on the Red Sox, where he has to crack the top ten for fantasy purposes. The lost year cost him some of his age-to-level advantage, so he’ll be near the average when he opens 2022 in A+. In 96 games this year, the 5’11” 212 lb centerfielder slashed .306/.346/.405 with 3 HR and 13 SB. He also hit 16 doubles and six triples, but those numbers and his slash line are a little inflated by his double plus speed and opposite-field approach. He still needs to learn how to incorporate his base into every swing, but that makes sense. He’s a young switch hitter who only started hitting lefty a few years ago. Lots of growth potential here. Probably worth your while to check in and find out if the Rule 5 situation has created a little buying opportunity in your leagues.
9. OF 2B Tyler McDonough | 22 | A | 2023
A good athlete who’s played all over the diamond, mostly catcher and center fielder, throughout his baseball career, McDonough seems tailor-made for today’s game. In 27 games in A ball, he slashed .296/.397/.491 with 3 HR, 3 SB, 24 strikeouts (19%) and 17 walks (13.5%). A 5’10” 180 lb switch hitter, McDonough brings selective aggressiveness to both sides of the plate. While he’ll never top this list, I think he’ll cruise through the minors without much strife and carve out a utility role early in his career.
10. RHP Wilkelman Gonzalez | 20 | A | 2024
Listed at 6’ 167 lbs, Gonzalez probably weighs a bit more than that today, and size is really the only concern so far with the whip-armed flamethrower. It’s not that a guy can’t make it work at six-foot even, but where does a teenager’s man muscle go as he ages? We get a little girthy in our late twenties, some of us, and then the whole physiology shifts. It’s rare for a Lincecum-type to stay super lean and lithe throughout his career, and even Lincecum lost his stuff a little early, comparatively speaking. I don’t mean to be an alarmist though. All this stuff is hypothetical and half-decade away. On the field, Gonzalez graduated complex league after seven starts and spent the season’s final month in full-season ball as a 19-year-old, holding opponents to a 1.53 ERA in four starts covering 17.2 innings thanks to a mid-90’s fastball and two solid off-speed offerings in his changeup and curve.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.