Chaim Bloom's primary responsibility after taking control of the Red Sox two years ago was to rebuild a farm system decimated by Dave Dombrowski's singular focus on building a World Series winner in 2018.
Baseball America's Top 10 prospect list from that year is cringe-worthy. Left-hander Jay Groome ranked No. 1 despite going 3-9 with a 5.69 ERA. He'd shortly undergo Tommy John surgery. Swing-and-miss machine Michael Chavis came next, and non-prospects like Cole Brannen, Mike Shawaryn, Sam Travis, and Marco Hernandez cracked the top 10.
Fast-forward four short years and the story is very different, as BA's most recent list illustrates. The Red Sox not only boast legitimate top-end talent, led by No. 4 overall pick Marcelo Mayer and slugging first baseman Triston Casas, they've added considerable depth in the middle range, with power-hitting infielder Alex Binelas, acquired with Jackie Bradley Jr. from the Brewers, slotting into the organization's top 20.
The Red Sox had more players than roster spots when it came time to decide whom to protect in the rule 5 draft, a welcome dilemma for a team trying to build from the ground up. The Red Sox could still lose a promising player like rehabbing right-hander Thaddeus Ward or speedy Single-A outfielder Gilberto Jimenez once a new CBA is ratified.
In any event, our top 10 Red Sox prospects list shows a lot more promise now than it did even a year ago. Let's dive in, while noting that after making his big-league debut last year, outfielder Jarren Duran has been removed from consideration. (Player ages are as of Opening Day).
1. Marcelo Mayer, SS, 19
The Red Sox scouted the California high schooler extensively before the draft, even though there was virtually no chance of landing him. The consensus No. 1 overall pick thanks to an advanced glove, rangy build, and sweet left-handed swing, Mayer instead dropped to the Red Sox at No. 4, and they could hardly believe their good fortune. They haven't drafted a player with this much raw ability since Nomar Garciaparra in 1994, and Mayer didn't disappoint in his debut, hitting .275 with three homers as the top prospect in the Florida Complex League. Mayer is listed at 6-foot-3 and 188 pounds, and it's easy to envision the 19-year-old maturing into a 220-pounder in the mold of Rangers All-Star Corey Seager, the player to whom he is most often compared. If he outgrows shortstop, he'd project as a plus-plus defender at third.
2. Triston Casas, 1B, 22
In any other year, Casas would be the easy choice at No. 1. The slugging left-handed hitter was the best player on Team USA while taking silver in Tokyo. He boasts an advanced approach at the plate modeled after Reds All-Star Joey Votto and he should call Fenway home sooner rather than later. Don't be surprised if he debuts in 2022.
3. Nick Yorke, 2B, 20
Many draft experts didn't even view Yorke has a top-100 prospect when the Red Sox selected him 17th overall in 2020. Bloom is already getting the last laugh after watching Yorke hit .325 with 14 homers in his debut. Best-case scenario, Yorke one day competes for a batting title.
4. Brayan Bello, RHP, 22
Bello made the leap in more ways than one in 2021, pumping his fastball as high as 100 mph and jumping from High A Greenville to Double A Portland. He boasts excellent command and features a changeup that plays well off his fastball.
5. Blaze Jordan, 3B, 19
The high school home run derby sensation is proving to be more than a curiosity. His power legitimately plays, especially in today's game of three true outcomes. He'll probably never hit for average, but when he gets his pitch, he knows what to do with it. He hit six home runs in 28 games of his debut, finishing at Low-A Salem.
6. Bryan Mata, RHP, 22
A number of Boston's pitching prospects are recovering from Tommy John, and Mata is the best of them. When healthy, he combines upper-90s heat with an excellent slider. At 6-foot-3, 238 pounds, Mata has the build to be a durable starter.
7. Jeter Downs, 2B, 23
The heat will be on the former first-rounder after a disastrous 2021 that saw him hit .190 and play shaky defense, especially at shortstop. Already on his third organization since being selected in the first round by the Reds in 2017, Downs should be competing for a big-league roster spot this spring, but he'll instead be trying to re-establish his value.
8. Jay Groome, LHP, 23
The Red Sox were thrilled to land Groome 12th overall in 2016, but since returning from 2018 Tommy John surgery, his entire arsenal hasn't looked the same, particularly a curveball that lacks its former sharpness. Still, he has back-of-rotation potential after staying healthy in 2021 and striking out 134 in 97.1 innings.
9. Gilberto Jimenez, OF, 21
The numbers looked solid for the switch-hitting center fielder at Low-A, but his .306 average belied too much weak contact. Still, his athleticism is off the charts, and if he ever learns to drive the ball in the air, his speed and arm could make him a big-league center fielder.
10. Josh Winckowski, RHP, 23
Say hello to the centerpiece of the Andrew Benintendi trade, a former 15th-rounder whose deep arsenal makes him a potential big-league starter. Winckowski impressed the coaching staff during five appearances in spring training, particularly in his willingness to challenge hitters.