The trade of Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers signified an upcoming period of change and turnover for the Boston Red Sox. It wasn’t a complete punt and rebuild, however. After all, they still had a core group of young studs like Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and Andrew Benintendi. All of those players had been drafted or signed as international free agents by the team and developed internally.
The Red Sox have had a good track record for the better part of two decades of creating teams with championship aspirations with a good mix of homegrown talent and key acquisitions. They play in one of the largest markets in the league after all, and winning has become an expectation for fans.
Only Devers remains on the 2023 roster of those three homegrown talents. They also haven’t had good luck with the health of their recent big acquisitions (see: Trevor Story, James Paxton, and Chris Sale). And a few homegrown guys like Bobby Dalbec and Jarren Duran haven’t quite panned out yet. And they just had to DFA Jeter Downs this offseason, who was the crown jewel of the Mookie Betts trade. However! The future is starting to look a bit brighter for the Sox.
Yesterday, it was reported by Jeff Passan that Rafael Devers is signing an 11-year, $331 million extension with the Red Sox. What an incredible relief for the fanbase. Devers is the future of their franchise and is still only 26 years old.
The prospects on the list below are the players the organization looks to surround Devers with to make its next deep playoff run. So let’s get to it.
Boston Red Sox Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects
1. Marcelo Mayer, SS
Age: 20/2022 Stats (A/A+): 350 AB/.280/.399 OBP/.489 SLG/13 HR/17 SB/51 R/53 RBI
Marcelo Mayer was drafted 4th overall in the 2021 draft out of Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, CA. The organization’s highest draft pick since 1967 has the ability to impact all aspects of the game and hasn’t shown any major weaknesses so far. The closest thing might be his strikeout percentage but when you consider his age (he hasn’t played baseball as a 20-year-old) and his proclivity for drawing walks, it’s easy to see a future where he makes more contact. His walk rate sat at 16% for his first full season between Single-A and High-A, while the strikeout rate came in at 25.2%. He sees a ton of pitches and should reach the higher levels with a really good feel for the strike zone.
Mayer posted a 149 wRC+ in Low-A and a 127 wRC+ in High-A as a 19-year-old in 2022. I usually like to see top-50 prospects eclipse a 125 wRC+ (in other words, to be 25% better than replacement level in their league) in a level where they’re age-appropriate. Mayer could be a very young player in both High-A and Double-A next season, so I’ll have a bit of grace for any struggles out of the gate. If he has the huge breakout season that seems to be looming, his demand in dynasty leagues could rise even higher than where it currently stands.
2. Triston Casas, 1B
Age: 22/2022 Stats (AAA/MLB): 264 AB/.273 AVG/.382 OBP/.481 SLG/11 HR/0 SB/45 R/38 RBI
MLB: 76 AB/.197 AVG/.358 OBP/.408 SLG/5 HR/1 SB/11 R/12 RBI
Triston Casas has never posted an ISO below .200 or a BB% below 10% at any level of the minor leagues. The former first-round pick utilizes this combination of patience and power to hunt for his pitch and do plenty of damage once it comes. He’s also the only player on this list who has had a taste of the big leagues.
While the .197 batting average in 95 major league plate appearances might be a bit disappointing on the surface, he showed us glimpses of the skills that have drawn so much excitement. In 53 batted ball events, he had an above-average barrel rate, max exit velocity, and hard-hit rate but he had trouble finding an optimal launch angle. Only 7.5% of his batted balls were line drives and a whopping 56.6% were ground balls. Both of these figures should regress next season and if he can get his ground ball rate down into the mid-30s as we saw in AAA, he’ll likely take off.
3. Ceddanne Rafaela, SS/OF
Age: 22/2022 Stats (A+/AA): 481 AB/.298 AVG/.340 OBP/.537 SLG/21 HR/29 SB/83 R/86 RBI
Ceddanne Rafaela was an amateur free agent signing in 2017 out of Curaçao, which is the same small Caribbean island that has produced MLB stars like Ozzie Albies, Kenley Jansen, Jurickson Profar, and Didi Gregorious. Rafaela has flown up prospect rankings after a breakout 2022 season in High-A and Double-A. He posted career highs in average, on-base percentage, wRC+, ISO, and stolen bases.
He carries above-average power, speed, and contact skills and he can play the two most premium positions on the field exceptionally well: shortstop and center field. He could see his first MLB action as soon as 2023 and may be a ROY sleeper pick in 2024.
4. Niko Kavadas, 1B
Age:24/2022 Stats (A/A+/AA): 402 AB/.276 AVG/.437 OBP/.545 SLG/27 HR/1 SB/72 R/88 RBI
After mashing his way through the ACC for Notre Dame, Niko Kavadas was drafted in the 11th round by the Red Sox in 2021. Kavadas profiles as a righty-crusher who could run into some platoon issues once he breaks into the majors. He has some really impressive raw power and he should have a chance to make the roster and secure a spot as the team’s DH heading into 2024.
He’s another player who sees a ton of pitches, but Kavadas strikes out a bit more than Mayer and has significantly more experience under his belt. At this point, it’s safe to assume he’s going to roll with the extremely selective approach, which will definitely help his value in OBP and points leagues, but it could limit his production in standard 5×5 roto leagues.
5. Nick Yorke, 2B
Age: 20/2022 Stats (A+): 337 AB/.231 AVG/.303 OBP/.365 SLG/11 HR/8 SB/48 R/45 RBI
After being drafted in the middle of the first round in the 2020 draft, Nick Yorke looked unstoppable in his professional debut season in 2021. He flew up prospect rankings and if he could produce at even 70% of that level in 2022, he might have sat on top of this list. But he has a really high bar to live up to and we watched all of his statistical production crater throughout the summer.
The only obvious changes in his launch angle and spray angle were a slightly increased ground ball rate and a greatly increased pull percentage, but neither really explains the near-100-point drop in his batting average on balls in play. So which season is the real Nick Yorke? The easy and most likely answer is that he probably lands somewhere right in the middle this year. I still believe in his skills and think he could end up as a solid UT/MI option in dynasty leagues by 2025.
6. Matthew Lugo, 2B/SS/3B
Age: 21/2022 Stats (A+/AA): 478 AB/.282 AVG/.338 OBP/.492 SLG/18 HR/20 SB/ 77 R/79 RBI
Matthew Lugo was drafted near the end of the second round in the 2019 draft and it took him a few seasons to really develop impactful skills at the plate. He posted a 126 wRC+ over 512 A+ plate appearances in 2022 after two seasons (not including the lost 2020 season) hitting at or below a 100 wRC+. Ian Cundall (@IanCundall) pointed out on Twitter at the end of last season that once Lugo switched from shortstop to third base primarily, he really exploded at the plate. Maybe after a full offseason with some positional continuity, we could see him take another step forward in 2023.
7. Miguel Bleis, OF
Age: 18/2022 Stats (CPX): 153 AB/.301 AVG/.353 OBP/.542 SLG/5 HR/18 SB/28 R/27 RBI
Miguel Bleis signed with the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in early 2021 out of the Dominican Republic. While the professional sample size is still really small, it’s obvious that his raw skills are off the charts. He’s projected to grow into 60-grade power and a 50-grade hit tool by Fangraphs and he is extremely proficient on the basepaths as well. He should spend most of next season in Single-A as a 19-year-old where he’ll get the chance to accumulate a significant amount of plate appearances and work on his approach. He’ll definitely be someone to keep an eye on throughout the summer and he will likely be available on the wire in most 12-team dynasty leagues and maybe even some 15-teamers.
8. Blaze Jordan, 1B/3B
Age: 20/2022 Stats (A/A+): 463 AB/ .289 AVG/.363 OBP/.445 SLG/12 HR/5 SB/60 R/68 RBI
As a 2020 third-round pick, Blaze Jordan brought plenty of raw power to the Red Sox system. Videos circulated of him hitting absolutely massive bombs as a high schooler, and he crushed an amateur home run derby. He has yet to really tap into this power during game situations, but rest assured it’s still there. Jordan is a slightly more athletic option at 1B/DH than Triston Casas or Niko Kavadas, and he’s the only one of the trio of power hitters that can also play third base if necessary. He put up a 128 wRC+ in 106 plate appearances as a 19-year-old in High-A and if we see the 47% ground ball rate drop a little bit, it might unlock some of that raw power.
9. Bryan Mata, SP
Age: 23/2022 Stats (A/A+/AA/AAA): 83.0 IP/2.49 ERA/1.28 WHIP/105 SO
Bryan Mata was quite the traveler in 2022, logging appearances across four different levels of the minor leagues. He signed as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela way back in 2016 and has played in the Red Sox system every season since. He’s the team’s best pitching prospect and he took a significant step forward in recording strikeouts in the 2022 season. His walk rate is still extremely high, though – it didn’t drop below 11% at any level last season. If he shows any signs of being able to keep the free runners off the bases next year, he could be primed for a huge leap forward. But that’s a pretty significant if.
10. Mikey Romero, 2B/SS
Age: 18/2022 Stats (CPX/A): 83 AB/.289 AVG/.359 OBP/.482 SLG/1 HR/2 SB/11 R/17 RBI
Mikey Romero is the first representative from the 2022 draft on this list. He went 24th overall and boasts a balanced profile with the most impressive tool being his ability to make consistent contact. His walk rate was almost double his strikeout in his 43 CPX plate appearances but those two numbers did a complete 180 after his promotion to Single-A. Still, 2022 was a very small sample and it’s always encouraging to see a prep prospect reach Single-A the year he’s drafted.
11. Roman Anthony, OF
Age: 18/2022 Stats (CPX/A): 76 AB/.290 AVG/.364 OBP/.342 SLG/0 HR/1 SB/7 R/12 RBI
Roman Anthony has arguably garnered more hype than his draftmate Mikey Romero since the summer, even though he went about 50 picks later. It’s pretty warranted, as seen by his impressive 550-foot home run during the 2021 High School All-American game (at Coors Field). He had a really solid professional debut in 2022 and also made it to Single-A as a 19-year-old. He walked more than he struck out, which is a rare feat for someone as young as he is at any level of professional baseball.
12. Brandon Walter, SP
Age: 26/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 57.2 IP/3.59 ERA/0.90 WHIP/75 SO
Brandon Walter was drafted in the 26th round of the 2019 draft and comes in as the 2nd-ranked starting pitcher in the Red Sox system. The southpaw hasn’t posted a K/9 lower than 10.50 in any level where he’s thrown at least 30 innings. He’s extremely skilled at keeping the ball on the ground and limiting walks, which makes him a prime candidate to impact the major league team this summer.
13. Chase Meidroth, 2B
Age: 21/2022 Stats (CPX/A): 76 AB/.316 AVG/.438 OBP/.540 SLG/4 HR/4 SB/19 R/15 RBI
Chase Meidroth was another 2022 draft pick who managed to walk more than he struck out in a limited sample in 2022. Unlike Anthony, he was drafted out of San Diego University, where he slashed .329/.440/.544 in 228 at-bats during his sophomore season in 2022. Meidroth was super selective in college as well, and his approach might be his greatest asset moving forward. How long will he be able to keep his BB/K above 1.00?
14. Wilyer Abreu, OF
Age: 23/2022 Stats (AA): 463 AB/.248 AVG/.401 OBP/.436 SLG/19 HR/32 SB/107 R/73 RBI
Wilyer Abreu was acquired by the Red Sox in the trade that sent Christian Vázquez to the Astros on August 2, 2022. He became an extremely proficient base stealer in 2022, exemplified by his career-best 91% success rate. His bat doesn’t lag far behind his legs – he posted a wRC+ of at least 120 in both A+ and AA for both the Red Sox and Astros in 2021 and 2022. He found more extra-base power in games and started working deeper into counts in 2021. His strikeout rate leaves a bit to be desired, which makes Abreu more of a speculative play in deeper dynasty leagues.
15. Enmanuel Valdez, 2B/3B/OF
Age: 24/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 500 AB/.296 AVG/.376/.542/28 HR/8 SB/92 R/107 RBI
Enmanuel Valdez was the second half of the return for Christian Vázquez. He was signed by the Astros as an international free agent in 2015 and made the steady climb up through the Astros system before being traded to the Sox after reaching AAA. He offers positional versatility and a solid approach at the plate that projects him to be around a .250 hitter if he can find success in the majors. With the Red Sox needing infield depth in the near future, he might have a chance to make an impact in a utility role as soon as this season. There’s some decent pop in his bat that could come in handy for dynasty managers.
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire) Illustration by Cody Rogers (@CodyRogers10)