RED SOX INSIDER

Tomase: Don't sleep on Red Sox' sneaky-good top-10 prospect list

RED SOX INSIDER

Spring training results might not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but this spring they've given us our first look in more than a year at a number of Boston Red Sox prospects, providing crucial insight into their development.

In some cases, the news has been good, like right-hander Connor Seabold hitting 97 mph with a fastball that was supposed to max out at 95.

In others, the returns have been less promising, such as outfielder Jeisson Rosario showing up out of shape. And then, of course, there's the injury to top pitching prospect Bryan Mata, which may still require Tommy John surgery.

In any event, the farm remains a primary focus of chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, so it's worth reassessing the top 10 prospects in the organization, even while acknowledging that this list will probably look markedly different at this time next year.

1. Triston Casas, First Baseman

Casas had camp interrupted to attend to an undisclosed medical issue, but once he returned, he impressed the Red Sox with his professionalism while exhibiting an advanced understanding of the strike zone.

Tomase: Casas keeps reminding us he could be a special player one day

Casas is massive at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, but he takes a smaller approach at the plate, choking up with two strikes and prioritizing contact over power. The power is so natural and effortless, however, there's little doubt he's 30 home runs waiting to happen.

2. Jeter Downs, Second Baseman/Shortstop

Though a side injury limited him to just 15 at-bats this spring, Downs made the most of them, slamming a pair of homers while posting a 1.207 OPS. Because he has yet to play a game in the Red Sox system, and because he has already been traded twice since being selected 32nd overall by the Reds in 2017, it's easy to lose sight of just how talented he actually is.

 

Downs on the up-and-up?

Downs' rank on Red Sox in spring training OPS (min. 15 ABs)
2nd

The last time he played competitively, he hit 24 homers, including five in 12 games at his first exposure to Double-A. He could move quickly.

3. Jarren Duran, Outfielder

Red Sox prospects generally impressed this spring, with Duran taking another positive step forward. After winning the MVP of the Puerto Rican World Series this winter, Duran carried his newfound power into Fort Myers, hitting .302 with a pair of homers and a pair of steals.

He also struck out 18 times in 45 plate appearances while walking only twice, so the center fielder of the future remains a work in progress.

4. Gilberto Jimenez, Outfielder

Don't be surprised if Jimenez is No. 1 on this list sometime in the next two years. The switch hitter can absolutely fly and is considered the fastest player in an organization that includes two burners in Duran and Rosario. He has also bulked up from 160 pounds when signed as a 17-year-old in 2017 to 220 pounds of muscle today.

He's a potential five-tool stud who showed off his arm in the Fort.

5. Bryan Mata, Pitcher (RHP)

Here's the first disappointment of camp, though it has nothing to do with performance. Mata was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament early in spring training, and even though the Red Sox hope that he can overcome the injury simply with rest, history suggests that Tommy John could be in his future.

That's too bad, because he throws an upper-90s fastball that could've made him a bullpen candidate this year.

6. Connor Seabold, Pitcher (RHP)

The scouting report when the Red Sox acquired Seabold with Nick Pivetta as part of the Brandon Workman trade was that he had the ceiling of a crafty back-of-the-rotation starter, thanks to command of three pitches, but no overwhelming offering. After pitching at 91-93 and topping out at 95 in the minors, however, he was throwing 96-97 this spring, which caught Alex Cora's eye.

The 25-year-old is a candidate to start in the big leagues this year if the need arises.

7. Thaddeus Ward, Pitcher (RHP)

It's not very often that a college reliever gets drafted as a starter, but Ward has made that transition. A Fort Myers native, he earned a couple of appearances this spring, striking out two, including All-Star second baseman Ozzie Albies of the Braves.

With an upper-90s fastball and an outstanding sweeping slider, Ward becomes yet another depth starting option with upside.

8. Jay Groome, Pitcher (LHP)

Don't sleep on Groome. The big lefty has been working his way back since being sidelined for nearly two years by Tommy John surgery, and he threw one scoreless inning this spring.

Groome exudes Jon Lester vibes with his 6-foot-6 left-handed frame and easy delivery. The key will be regaining the form on his curveball, which was widely considered the best in the 2016 MLB Draft.

 

9. Nick Yorke, Second Baseman

The Red Sox were mocked for taking Yorke in the first round last year, but he didn't look out of place when summoned to the alternate site last summer as a teenager, and he also acquitted himself nicely during a handful of spring at-bats that included a double and three walks.

Tomase: Bloom's first-round pick may not be so crazy after all

Yorke profiles as a potential.300 hitter with the chance to develop 20-homer power.

10. Blaze Jordan, Third Baseman

Jordan is one of baseball's more polarizing prospects. You either believe that his prodigious high school power -- which made him a staple on the home run derby circuit, including a victory at the 2019 All-Star Game in Cleveland -- will translate against big league pitching, or you think his bat will never play in an actual game.

This early in his career, let's give him a chance to prove himself.