The Boston Red Sox farm system hasn't been all that inspiring in recent years. Much of that was a product of the Dave Dombrowski era as the former president of baseball operations didn't hesitate to trade coveted prospects for veteran talent.
Dombrowski's replacement, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, is taking the opposite approach. Since taking over in 2020, Bloom's focus has been on the organization's long-term success. The objective is to build a roster that can win for many years to come, rather than gambling the future to contend for one or two seasons.
The result? A Red Sox farm system that has gone from the bottom of the pack to the No. 12 ranked group of prospects in MLB.
The 2021 season was an encouraging one for Boston's farm with many of its top prospects flourishing. No. 1 prospect Triston Casas helped Team USA to a silver medal in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, 2021 first-round draft pick Marcelo Mayer quickly adjusted to rookie ball, Nick Yorke's huge year put him in Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list, and Jarren Duran got to show off some of his potential with the big-league club.
So, where does that leave the Red Sox' top prospects as we turn the page to 2022? Here's a breakdown of the top 10 Sox prospects, per SoxProspects.com.
Triston Casas, 1B
2021 stats: 86 games (77 in Double-A, nine in Triple-A), .279/.394/.484, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 57 BB, 71 SO
Casas is the organization's No. 1 prospect heading into 2022 after an impressive Double-A campaign. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound first baseman also spent some of his summer with Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics, showing off his pop with a team-high three homers and eight RBI.
After being promoted to Triple-A Worcester in September, Casas didn't miss a beat. He belted a homer in his second Triple-A at-bat to provide a preview of what to expect next year.
Many hoped to see Casas with the MLB club this season, but the organization understandably is taking it slow with the 21-year-old. We'll likely see him rake with Triple-A Worcester in 2022 before earning a promotion to The Show, similarly to what Jarren Duran did this year.
MLB ETA: 2022
Marcelo Mayer, SS
2021 stats: 26 games (FCL), .275/.377/.440, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 15 BB, 27 SO
The baseball world was stunned to see Mayer not go No. 1 overall in the 2021 MLB Draft, never mind fall into the Red Sox' lap at No. 4.
It didn't take long for the left-handed hitting shortstop to fly to the top of Boston's prospect rankings. SoxProspects.com has Mayer right behind Casas as the organization's No. 2 prospect, which speaks to just how impressive the 18-year-old is both offensively and defensively. The constant comparisons to Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager and San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford speak for themselves.
Since Mayer's first professional baseball experience with the Florida Complex League Red Sox was a success, we'll probably see what he can do at the Single-A level in 2022. From there, we wouldn't be surprised to see him take the top spot in the prospect rankings once Casas inevitably is promoted.
MLB ETA: 2024
Nick Yorke, 2B
2021 stats: 97 games (76 in Low-A, 21 in High-A), .325/.412/.516, 14 HR, 62 RBI, 52 BB, 69 SO
All eyes were on Casas, Duran and Mayer in 2021, but it was Nick Yorke who shined most out of all of Boston's top prospects.
Yorke, 19, was named the Red Sox' minor league player of the year after a sensational season with Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville. The 17th overall pick in the 2020 draft -- a puzzling selection to many at the time -- posted a .928 OPS in 97 total games. His defense still leaves plenty to be desired, but those numbers erased any doubt about Yorke's potential going forward.
The 2022 season will be a big test for Yorke as he'll likely spend some time with Double-A Portland. If he turns heads again at that level, his MLB prospect ranking should continue to rise rapidly.
MLB ETA: 2024
Jarren Duran, OF
2021 stats: 60 games (Triple-A), .258/.357/.516, 16 HR, 36 RBI, 30 BB, 66 SO
Duran's speed combined with his power, which came out of nowhere, made him a must-watch prospect in 2021. It seemed every other day the WooSox were posting another electric Duran highlight.
That speed and power caught the attention of Chaim Bloom and Co. and earned Duran a promotion to the Boston Red Sox in July. It was a reality check for the 25-year-old as he slashed just .215/.241/.336 with two homers and 40 strikeouts in 112 MLB plate appearances.
Duran showed a few flashes of his potential, but it's clear he'll need some time in the minors to fine-tune his approach at the plate before returning to the majors. If he can cut down on the Ks, he could be a solid MLB contributor in 2022.
MLB ETA: 2022
Jeter Downs, SS/2B
2021 stats: 99 games (Triple-A), .190/.272/.333, 14 HR, 39 RBI, 38 BB, 131 SO
No Sox prospect was more disappointing than Jeter Downs, who was acquired as part of the trade that sent superstar Mookie Betts to the Dodgers.
Downs showed the occasional power with 14 homers, but that was about the only positive to take away from his 2021 campaign. His .605 OPS and 131 strikeouts in 405 plate appearances were alarming, to say the least. The Red Sox will hope that rough year was simply an outlier as Downs had been rock-solid at the plate throughout his minor league career.
Another season with Triple-A Worcester appears to be in Downs' future. If it's a bounce-back year for the 2017 first-round draft pick, perhaps we'll see him with the big-league club sooner rather than later.
MLB ETA: 2023
Brayan Bello, RHP
2021 stats: 21 games (six in High-A, 15 in Double-A), 95.1 IP, 7-3, 3.87 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 24 BB, 87 SO
Bello, the team's top pitching prospect according to SoxProspects.com, took a sizable leap in 2021. The 22-year-old righty saw his K/9 jump from 9.1 in 2019 to 12.5, and his high-90s fastball has a lot to do with it.
With impressive strikeout stuff and solid command, Bello has the potential to be a mid-rotation arm somewhere down the line. If he can build off his 2021 performance and duplicate it in 2022, it probably won't be long before he makes his big-league debut.
MLB ETA: 2023
Gilberto Jimenez, OF
2021 stats: 94 games (Low-A), .306/.346/.405, 3 HR, 56 RBI, 19 BB, 86 SO
Jimenez is considered the most athletic prospect in the Red Sox system. The switch-hitting 21-year-old won't tear the cover off the ball, but don't let his three home runs in 2021 fool you. He still is a threat to put one in the gap and get extra bases. Jimenez tallied 16 doubles, six triples with Low-A Salem.
He's as raw as a prospect as there is, but Jimenez's athleticism can't be ignored. With another year or two of experience under his belt, he could develop into a really solid all-around player.
MLB ETA: 2024
Connor Seabold, RHP
2021 stats: 13 games (two in FCL, 11 in Triple-A), 54 IP, 4-3, 3.47 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 22 BB, 64 SO
The Red Sox acquired Seabold and starter Nick Pivetta in the trade that sent relievers Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman to the Philadelphia Phillies. The right-hander dealt with an elbow injury throughout the spring, but he showed once he returned that he could be a key part of Boston's pitching staff in the near future.
Seabold was called upon to make his MLB debut on Sept. 11 vs. the Chicago White Sox. The 25-year-old pitched three innings in his first career start, allowing two runs on three hits. Not much to take away from that outing, but the fact the Red Sox were willing to use him in that spot shows how highly they think of his potential.
While it's probably more likely he starts the year out of the bullpen, we could see Seabold in Boston's starting rotation as soon as next season. That is, if he can stay healthy. That has proven to be a big "if" so far in his baseball career.
MLB ETA: 2022
Jay Groome, LHP
2021 stats: 21 games (18 in High-A, three in Double-A), 97.1 IP, 5-8, 4.81 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 36 BB, 134 SO
Groome, the 12th overall pick in the 2016 draft, has been through plenty of ups and downs over the last several years. The 23-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and has struggled to regain form as an elite prospect ever since.
After a rough stint with High-A Greenville in 2021, Groome got back on track with Double-A Portland. In three starts with the Sea Dogs, he went 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. A small sample size, but an extremely encouraging sign heading into 2022.
If Groome can carry that over into next season, we may finally see him earn the promotion to Triple-A and even the majors. It's never been a question about talent, it's always been whether he can stay healthy and put it all together. It'll be fascinating to see how he fares next year.
MLB ETA: 2023
Blaze Jordan, 3B/1B
2021 stats: 28 games (19 in FCL, nine in Low-A), .324/.368/.590, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 8 BB, 21 SO
The Red Sox drafted Jordan in the third round of the 2020 MLB Draft because of his raw power. The 18-year-old won the MLB High School Home Run Derby in 2019 has made several headlines with videos of his impressive moonshots.
Jordan showed off that pop this year in the Florida Complex League and briefly with Low-A Salem. In the FCL, he hit a whopping .362 with a 1.075 OPS in 19 games. With Salem, he quickly made his presence felt with a grand slam. Moral of the story, he doesn't just boast Home Run Derby power. His big bat translates just fine to professional baseball.
It'll be a while before we see Jordan at the big-league level as he's much too raw of a prospect. Still, it's going to be a blast to watch him hit in the minors these next few years. If and when he one day makes his Red Sox debut, his power will make him a must-see at-bat each time he steps to the plate.
MLB ETA: 2025