Boston Red Sox

Red Sox prospects update: Mayer off to strong start in Portland

Mayer is back to looking like Boston's unquestioned No. 1 prospect.

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Back-to-back last-place seasons have cast a cloud of negativity over the Boston Red Sox, but the farm system should inspire optimism for the future of the organization.

Boston boasts a "Big Three" of shortstop Marcelo Mayer, outfielder Roman Anthony, and catcher Kyle Teel. They are the No. 14, No. 21, and No. 37 ranked prospects in MLB, respectively. Two of the club's former top prospects, Ceddanne Rafaela and Wilyer Abreu, have made an impact with the Red Sox as rookies this season.

We could see Mayer, Anthony, and/or Teel debut in the majors within the next year. While they're the household names, we shouldn't sleep on the other talented young players in Boston's revitalized system. Some could end up being franchise cornerstones alongside the "Big Three" for years to come.

Here's how the Red Sox' top 10 prospects have fared through the first month of the 2024 season. Prospect rankings are via MLB Pipeline.

1. Marcelo Mayer, SS

2024 stats: .315/.384/.480, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 5 BB, 18 SO (17 games at Double-A Portland)

MLB ETA: 2025

Mayer's 2023 campaign was one to forget. The Red Sox' fourth overall pick in the 2021 draft struggled at the plate following his promotion to Double-A Portland and had his season end prematurely in August due to a shoulder injury.

So far in 2024, Mayer is back to looking like the undisputed top prospect in the organization. The 21-year-old shortstop enjoyed an outstanding April that included a 10-game hit streak and this walk-off single:

Last September, Mayer admitted he suffered his shoulder injury on May 7 and shouldn't have played through it for the next few months. His numbers before and after May 7 indicate the injury was a major factor in his struggles. Now that he's healthy, he's showing why the organization sees him as the future face of the franchise.

2. Roman Anthony, OF

2024 stats: .217/.317/.348, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 10 BB, 26 SO (18 games at Double-A Portland)

MLB ETA: 2025

Amid Mayer's 2023 struggles, some crowned Anthony the new No. 1 prospect in the organization. The soon-to-be 20-year-old outfielder quickly rose through the minor-league ranks and finished the season in Double-A. He wrapped up the year with a .272/.403/.466 slash line, 14 homers, and 64 RBI in 106 games between Low-A Salem, High-A Greenville, and Double-A Portland.

Anthony is right there with Mayer as a potential franchise centerpiece, but he's off to a slow start this season with the Sea Dogs. The 2022 second-round pick has gone cold at the plate since belting two homers in an April 13 doubleheader. There's little doubt he'll snap out of the slump sooner rather than later, but having him overtake Mayer in the club's prospect rankings may have been an overreaction.

3. Kyle Teel, C

2024 stats: .211/.328/.333, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 10 BB, 19 SO (15 games at Double-A Portland)

MLB ETA: 2025

Like Anthony, Teel skyrocketed through the Red Sox' minor-league system shortly after being drafted. The 2023 first-rounder hit .363 with a .977 OPS in 26 games between the Florida Complex League, High-A, and Double-A. His encouraging performance put him in the same conversation as Mayer and Anthony to form a "Big Three" in Boston's farm system.

Similar to Anthony, Teel is off to a slow start with the Sea Dogs this year after raking in 2023. That isn't a cause for concern, however, as he projects to be a true five-tool talent behind the plate. If he heats back up, we could see the Virginia product debut in the majors late this year and give Red Sox fans a glimpse at the future catcher tandem of Teel and Connor Wong.

4. Miguel Bleis, OF

2024 stats: .197/.303/.303, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 9 BB, 13 SO (17 games at Low-A Salem)

MLB ETA: 2027

Bleis missed most of 2023 with a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery. Before that setback, the young outfielder was making a name for himself as one of the most exciting prospects in Boston's system.

Often compared to Atlanta Braves superstar Ronald Acuna Jr., Bleis is a true five-tool talent with the ceiling of a perennial MLB All-Star. We're still waiting for him to regain his 2022 form, however, as it's been a struggle for him at the plate post-injury. Although we've seen glimpses of his star potential (five doubles, one triple in 17 games), the consistency hasn't been there yet for the 20-year-old in 2024.

5. Wikelman Gonzalez, RHP

2024 stats: 10.2 IP, 1-1, 7.59 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 10 BB, 14 SO (four games, three starts at Double-A Portland)

MLB ETA: 2025

Gonzalez, the top pitching prospect in Boston's system, struggled in his first two starts of 2024 but has since settled down. Over his last two starts, the 22-year-old has allowed just two runs and two hits while striking out 12 in eight innings.

If Gonzalez keeps that up, he should earn a promotion to Triple-A Worcester in the near future. He pitched well for the Sea Dogs last year, posting a 2.42 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 10 starts (48.1 innings).

6. Nick Yorke, 2B

2024 stats: .284/.360/.493, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 7 BB, 12 SO (17 games at Double-A Portland)

MLB ETA: 2025

The 2021 Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year continues to rake in Portland. After posting a .785 OPS in 110 games for the Sea Dogs last year, Yorke is right there with Mayer as one of Portland's best offensive players through the early part of the campaign.

Yorke struggled at the plate with High-A Greenville in 2022, but it's safe to say he has put that slump far behind him. The 22-year-old should flirt with a call-up to Triple-A sometime this season and if all goes well there, it wouldn't be a shock to see him debut in the majors next year, especially considering the current state of Boston's middle infield.

7. Yoeilin Cespedes, SS

2024 stats: N/A

MLB ETA: 2027

Cespedes -- no known relation to former big-leaguer Yoenis Cespedes -- has yet to play this year as the Florida Complex League Red Sox will begin their season on May 4. When he does take the field, he'll be worth your attention.

The 18-year-old shortstop signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2023. He went on to post a .952 OPS in 46 games for the FCL Red Sox, skyrocketing up the Red Sox' prospect rankings in the process.

Whe Mayer, Anthony, and Teel graduate to the majors, there's a good chance Cespedes takes over as the No. 1 ranked prospect in the organization. He's that talented.

8. Nazzan Zanetello, SS

2024 stats: .500/.556/.875, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 SO (3 games at Low-A Salem)

MLB ETA: 2028

This is Zanetello's first full professional season as he was taken in the second round of the 2023 draft. The 18-year-old infielder had some growing pains in 14 games last year, but he's starting to show his true upside early in his 2024 campaign.

Zanetello showcased his impressive speed with an inside-the-park homer on Saturday:

Zanetello is a stellar athlete with five-tool potential. At just 18, there's plenty of room for him to grow, making him an intriguing prospect to keep tabs on as he looks to take a significant step in his development this year.

9. Luis Perales, RHP

2024 stats: 9.0 IP, 0-1, 5.00 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 3 BB, 14 SO (Three starts at High-A Greenville)

MLB ETA: 2026

Perales, Boston's No. 2 pitching prospect, is still trying to find consistency at High-A. The 21-year-old boasts impressive swing-and-miss stuff but his command still needs improvement. He averaged 5.0 BB/9 last season between Salem and Greenville.

10. Richard Fitts, RHP

2024 stats: 19.1 IP, 1-1, 4.19 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 5 BB, 17 SO (Four starts at Triple-A Worcester)

MLB ETA: 2024

The Red Sox acquired Fitts from the New York Yankees as part of the Alex Verdugo trade in the offseason. The 24-year-old impressed for the Yankees' Double-A affiliate last year, posting a 3.48 ERA through 27 starts (152.2 innings).

It's been an up-and-down start to Fitts' tenure at Triple-A Worcester, but he showcased his potential in his April 17 start against Durham. In six innings, he allowed just one run on four hits while striking out five.

We could see Fitts debut with Boston out of the bullpen or as a spot starter sometime this season.

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