John Tomase

20 Under 25: Can Red Sox' young prospects validate Bloom's tenure?

Boston isn't lacking for quantity of young players, but quality remains to be seen.

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For a snapshot of Chaim Bloom's success in rebuilding the Red Sox farm system, be sure to check back with our "20 Under 25" contest for the next few years. If it's full of names Bloom signed or drafted, then we may view his tenure as a success. If it's not, then Craig Breslow's job is going to be tougher than we thought.

Unlike the recent past, when superstars such as Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Rafael Devers headed the list, it's hard to say for sure where this current crop of Red Sox farmhands will ultimately land. Shortstop Marcelo Mayer was supposed to be can't-miss, but an injury-plagued and disappointing debut at Double-A has dropped his stock, and it's possible he's not even the best prospect in the system anymore.

In any event, at least there's volume. The Red Sox have already received promising contributions from Brayan Bello and Triston Casas at the big league level, and odds are good that other future everyday players populate this list, too.

Here's a look at the 10 Red Sox candidates in this year's "20 Under 25" contest. (Editor's Note: You can vote in this year's contest here or in the voting module at the bottom of this article.)

Wilyer Abreu, OF

One of the bigger disappointments of Bloom's tenure was the inability to acquire impact prospects via trade, but Abreu might be an exception. Acquired in the 2022 deadline deal that sent catcher Christian Vazquez to Houston, Abreu impressed with a strong arm in the outfield, an advanced understanding of the strike zone, and some absolutely hellacious hacks at the plate, where he does not get cheated.

Roman Anthony, OF

Meet the prospect who may have surpassed Mayer. A 2022 second-rounder out of Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, Anthony followed up a nondescript pro debut with a monster second season, jumping all the way to Double-A, where he hit .343. Still only 19, Anthony could be on the fast track to the big leagues.

Brayan Bello, P

For years, the answers to the question of last legitimate starting pitchers developed by the Red Sox were Roger Clemens, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz. We're on the verge of adding Bello to that list.

While the Pedro Martinez comparisons are a bit much, Bello's competitiveness, makeup, and dominating changeup are at least evocative. Now he has to do it for a whole season.

Miguel Bleis, OF

Many expected Bleis to earn the headlines last year that ended up going to Anthony, but he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in May. When healthy, Bleis is the team's most exciting international prospect since Devers, a 6-foot-3 center fielder with plus potential across the board.

Triston Casas, 1B

Dave Dombrowski nabbed Casas in the first round in 2018, and he already looks like one of the best sluggers in the entire draft. The Red Sox may not have been worth watching in the second half, but Casas was, launching homers to dead center and taking his understanding of the strike zone to another level. He's a massive breakout candidate for 2024.

Bryan Mata, P

Of all the disappointing prospects from last year, Mata may top the list. He opened spring training as a bullpen candidate, but between shoulder problems and an inability to throw strikes, he posted a 7.00 ERA at Triple-A and never sniffed the big leagues, rendering his 100 mph fastball irrelevant.

Marcelo Mayer, SS

The pressure on Mayer to be the face of the franchise is immense, and he showed some cracks in 2023. Before shoulder surgery ended his season, Mayer struggled with breaking balls at Double-A, where he hit only .189 in 43 games. He needs a big-time bounce-back in 2024.

Ceddanne Rafaela, OF/INF

It's so clear what Rafaela does and doesn't do well. The good: he's an incredible defender in center field and at least average at shortstop, too. There's value in such defensive versatility. The bad: He swings at absolutely everything, and until that changes, he won't be an everyday player.

Kyle Teel, C

Bloom's last gift to the Red Sox may have been the steal of last year's draft. Teel was the best catcher in college, and the Virginia product wasted no time making an impact, zooming from rookie ball to Double-A, where he hit .323 in nine games. It's entirely possible he's in the Opening Day lineup a little over a year from now.

Nick Yorke, INF

Bloom's first draft pick has suffered some ups and downs. After a great debut, he struggled in 2022, but he bounced back with a solid season at Double A last year. While he profiles as a high-average, gap-to-gap hitter, it's still unclear where he'll land defensively, and he could be trade bait under new leadership.

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