The Red Sox are betting the future on their farm system. According to one industry expert, there's a lot to like.
The Athletic's Keith Law released his list of baseball's top 100 prospects this week, and the Red Sox are well-represented, with four players cracking his rankings.
His top-rated Red Sox prospect is shortstop Marcelo Mayer, who checks in at No. 11 overall. Mayer is followed by super utilityman Ceddanne Rafaela (No. 37), first baseman Triston Casas (No. 40), and young center fielder Miguel Bleis (No. 72).
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Law is particularly bullish on Mayer, whom he thinks "is going to be a star." He raves about his actions at shortstop and his advanced approach at the plate, also noting that he saw him twice last year, and both times he was injured, so he hasn't seen him at his best.
Still, the 19-year-old slammed 13 homers with an .887 OPS in just 91 games between Low and High A, and Law's analysis continues a strong winter for the former No. 4 overall pick, who has ranked everywhere from ninth (MLB.com) to 13th (Baseball Prospectus) in the prospect rankings. Baseball America places him 10th.
Next up is Rafaela, who might be the most versatile player in the minor leagues. Evaluators inside and outside the Red Sox peg him as a potential Gold Glove center fielder, and even at 5-8, he has generated impressive power. He still needs work on selectivity (Law writes that he "swings first and asks questions later") but the fact that he can play an above-average shortstop, too, means he should find his way to Fenway Park this year, with the potential for much more.
"The hope is that he improves the choices he's making as a hitter and that he recognizes pitch types sooner with experience and reduces some of that chase to give himself a chance to be a high-average hitter and potential star on both sides of the ball," Law writes.
As for Casas, he retained rookie status and will open camp as the starting first baseman. Law describes him as a "boring prospect, but not in a bad way," noting that he has no overwhelming tool, but could easily become a traditional first baseman, with the potential for 25-plus homers and a lot of walks.
That leaves Bleis, who is a definite breakout candidate for 2023. The 6-foot-3 18-year-old has five-tool potential, with big power and the speed to stay in center. He hit .301 in his stateside debut in the Florida Complex League, and 2023 will mark his first exposure to full-season leagues.
Even if he struggles at Low A as a teenager, Law sees big things.
"Bleis is still growing into his frame, but shows exceptional ability to handle the bat, with the potential for huge power and lots of hard contact, and has a chance for every tool to end up above-average," he writes.
Highlighting the difficulty of playing in the AL East, Law's list is populated with players from the Yankees, Rays, and especially Orioles, who boast six prospects overall and three of the top 19 in shortstop Gunnar Henderson (No. 2), right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (No. 15), and shortstop and No. 1 overall pick Jackson Holliday (No. 19).
The Yankees have four players, including shortstop Anthony Volpe -- who actually ranks three spots ahead of Mayer -- listed eighth. The Rays have four players as well, while the Jays feature only one after promoting their best prospects in the last three years.