Boston Red Sox 2022 Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat
Following today's release of our new Red Sox Top 10, Alex Speier answered your questions below.
- My favorite time of the year; talking prospects with Alex! If I can ask 2 Florida Gators related questions; Jud Fabian did not sign with the Red Sox. If he did, where do you think he would have ranked in this system? Also, what are your thoughts on Nathan Hickey?
Alex Speier: Zak, Right away with guys outside the top 10! Guessing Fabian would have ranked anywhere from 10 into the teens, depending on what his pro debut looked like. The power and defense combo gives a pretty interesting floor and he cut down significantly on the Ks once in the system. Hickey will be tricky to evaluate -- he wasn't able to play much with the Red Sox this year after signing, and so much of his future value is tied into catching. But *if* he can catch, he has unusual offensive upside.
- Hi Alex, Do you see Duran as a sell high candidate? Not sure if his prospect shine is wearing off due to the bad debut that seemed to happen to most top prospects breaking in. Or is his rank/value starting to correct itself?
Alex Speier: Mike, Personally, I don't see him as sell-high right now - if anything, you'd be selling low after the difficult big league debut and following a huge jump in prospect rankings based on what he did in Worcester to start the year. He's proven the ability to make interesting adjustments in the past (in particular, swing adjustments after a very good 2019 season to develop more power to add future value heading into 2020-21), so there's a good chance he'll do the same this offseason, which would, in turn, increase his value -- and optimism about his outlook (I am uncomfortable talking about human beings through the prism of "value") considerably in 2022.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- Three guys on Salem showed power bats: Joe Davis, Nick Northcut, and Stephen Scott. Do any or all of them make the Handbook's top 30?
Alex Speier: Karl, As much as everyone loves watching this group hit, my guess is they fall outside the top 30. The profile is difficult from a rankings standpoint - particularly with Davis and Scott, who are a bit older. They'll have to rake in the upper levels to get love.
James P. (Scarsdale, NY):
- What’s the latest on Noah Song?
Alex Speier: The latest is ... no real update. He's still in flight school and will have to decide when to petition for permission to pursue a pro sports career. Whether he'd be granted that permission after the government makes a very expensive commitment to his education and training remains an open political question. And it's now been two years since he's pitched in a competitive environment. He's stayed in touch with the Red Sox but no one knows what his future baseball career might look like.
- Thank you for chatting. I understand the Sox will receive a comp pick for losing E-Rod. Is the pick after the second round? Additionally, do the Tigers lose a pick for signing him? Thank you !
Alex Speier: Yes and yes! Red Sox comp pick would be after Competitive Balance Round B (just before the start of the third round), so around 70-ish or so. And yes, the Tigers will lose a pick for signing him, probably helping to explain why his deal was backloaded a bit.
- Has your confidence in Gilberto Jimenez taken a hit this year?
Alex Speier: The fact that he's not a top-10 guy suggests as much. He hasn't made many strides in terms of plate discipline or driving the ball in the air, and the longer he goes without doing so, the harder it is to imagine him getting anywhere near the ceiling suggested by his exceptional athleticism and speed.
- What kind of improvements has Chaim Bloom and co. made on the pitching development front? Have you sensed a shift in how Boston is approaching that even compared to just 2-3 years ago?
Alex Speier: A thumbnail of a thumbnail on that: They're far more committed to pitch design work than they'd been in the past, with more coordinators to help in that undertaking. They've become increasingly aggressive with changing pitchers' repertoires early in their careers (certainly by A-ball, and in some cases in the complex leagues).
J.P. (Springfield, IL):
- Thanks for the chat, Alex. How far off the top 10 was Miguel Bleis, and what do you see as his ceiling?
Alex Speier: J.P., He wasn't really in the conversation for the top 10, so ... not close, but will surely get strong consideration to stick in the top 30. The ceiling is an above-average or better everyday CF who has really good defense and some serious bat life. There's a lot to like, and he could fly up the board next year depending on his performance once he gets to the States.
Nick Yorke (Defense):
- Hi Alex -- I see Nick Yorke listed in LF for the projected lineup. I understand these are merely a fun exercise, but I'm curious if you've gotten any intel on how Boston feels Yorke could handle a move to LF? I've read he's limited defensively at 2B, so not sure if there'd be some athleticism concerns with a potential position change.
Alex Speier: Nick, Hope the weather is good in Defense. He was actually better than expected this year at 2B and has a chance to stick there -- just not in the hypothetical universe of Mayer and Bogaerts up the middle. Yorke will throw himself into whatever he's asked to do, as a guess. He has a good feel for the game that should help with any theoretical transition. I think the hope is that he'll be fine defensively at whatever position he ends up at, with elite offensive ability.
Warren (New London):
- It seems clear that the Red Sox were right about Nick Yorke's bat. How worried are you about his defense? I'm thinking of examples like Todd Walker, who was a huge star in college, but never got to that level in MLB because he couldn't play second base well, which put too much pressure on his bat. Keston Hiura is having the same kinds of issues now, only worse. If Yorke has to move to a corner, will his bat be special enough?
Alex Speier: I'll take this one to complete "the Nick Yorke defense" questions by saying... Walker's defense may be a good comp, but his bat is indeed viewed as being sufficiently elite that he can move to a corner and still have a lot of value. This examination of Yorke's pro debut isn't perfect because the minor league season was so strange (and Low-A may have been more like short-season ball), but ... https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/09/23/sports/just-how-good-was-red-sox-prospect-nick-yorke-this-season-he-was-mookie-betts-mike-trout-territory/
- How faar was kutter Crawford from top 10 and does he have a role at the ML level?
Alex Speier: Crawford definitely has a big league role - the fastball misses bats and he's not afraid to work with it in the strike zone. I think he's a lock to be added to the 40-man this week and would expect to see him helping the Red Sox in 2022. My best guess is that he'll do so as a multi-inning reliever but with consideration if a spot starter is needed.
- Kutter Crawford and Durbin feltman are both rule 5 eligible. Do you see the sox protecting both of these players?
Alex Speier: Definitely on Crawford, not sure on Feltman. He's close to being big league ready but he seems more middle-reliever-ish than late-innings-ish. Such players tend to be borderline calls.
- Thank you for taking my question, how close came for Wilkerman Gonzalez to be a top 10 player and Miguel Bleis and Eddinson Paulino to be top 20.
Alex Speier: Alex, Wilkelman Gonzalez flew up the boards this year, and some people did view him as a top-10 pitcher. A three-pitch mix with mid- to high-90s velocity as a teenager has resulted in a lot of excitement about him in the system. My guess is that Bleis and Paulino (an eye-opener this year) are more considerations for the 20-30 range than the top 20, but both are really interesting prospects -- guys with ceilings that simply weren't in the Red Sox system outside of the top handful of prospects a couple of years ago.
Ryan (Worcester, MA):
- Connor Seabold ended the year in Worcester throwing 88-89 mph and then was a surprise add for the Arizona Fall Lg. Clearly the Sox do not think he is still injured, do they expect a return of the "stuff" he showed last spring training?
Alex Speier: Seabold's stuff has been erratic while he's navigated through injuries in his career, and that does create concern moving forward. They'd love to see a return to the upper end of his stuff (mid-90s, which sets up the secondaries well) but it's hard to take such a thing for granted based on the injury history.
- Connor Seabold did not make your top 10. Does he have a future on Boston's pitching staff and is he more likely a reliever or starter. Thanks.
Alex Speier: Following up on Seabold: Tough to say. At his best, he has the mix to be a 5/6 starter. But it's an open question what role - if any - is best suited to allow him to stay healthy.
- WHO DO YOU SEE AS THE BIGGEST POTENTIAL RISER NEXT YEAR? ALSO, WHERE WOULD FABIAN BE RANKED AMONG THE TOP 30 IF THE RED SOX HAD SIGNED HIM?
Alex Speier: Already discussed Fabian - probably around 10-15. As for next year's riser, always fascinating to think ahead by a year... I do think Miguel Bleis is a guy who could move a lot higher. Guys with fairly limited professional experience - Tyler McDonough, Bleis, Luis Perales - all could fit that bill.
- Casas is the Red Sox best hitting prospect since….
Alex Speier: Hmmm... Love this question, which forces me to think through a few years. In terms of JUST the hit tool, it's since Devers and Benintendi. If you're talking about overall offensive profile... also probably since those two, which is a reflection on both Casas and the fact that the best Sox position prospects for the last couple years (Dalbec and Chavis) had big swing/miss numbers that created profile challenges.
Owen (Rhode island):
- Curious as if you've heard anything regarding a possible trade of someone like Gilberto Jimenez or someone on the 40 man bubble? Thanks so much for your time
Alex Speier: I do believe the Sox -- and every other team, for that matter -- are exploring all trade scenarios involving Rule 5/40-man considerations. I'd think Jimenez fits that bill, since ... as a player who hasn't advanced past Low-A, but who has some survival skills (speed, contact) that could translate to the big leagues, he'd be a candidate to be selected if left unprotected.
JJ (Oman, ME):
- Any tidbits out of the Red Sox fall instrux?
Alex Speier: Honestly, not a ton. With the shift from instructional league games to development at the complex, it's a bit harder to get a feel for players who are taking off.
- Is it reasonable to hope that Groome moves to the bullpen and becomes a high end, or at least useful, lefty piece at this point?
Alex Speier: I do wonder if the bullpen becomes a possibility for him at some point, but it won't be soon. He had his first full, healthy season in the rotation this year and was fantastic at the very end in Double-A. The Sox want him to build on that. There are still four pitches with potential to play as average or better.
Coby (Boston, MA):
- I was pleasantly surprised to see Winckowski in the top ten. What do you seen him projecting into at this point, and how soon does he help the Sox?
Alex Speier: Winckowski looked the part of a potential back-of-the-rotation starter thanks to a fastball he can use aggressively (he was up to 99 mph in the AFL, albeit out of the bullpen; but even as a starter, he throws hard) with a solid mix (slider, changeup/splitter, curveball) off of that. A multi-innings bullpen role could also materialize. I would guess he'll be in the big leagues at some point this year.
- Is Ceddanne Rafeala perceived within the Sox system to have enough offensive upside (to go along with the great defense) that he would be considered a candidate for protecting from the Rule V draft?
Alex Speier: The question isn't offensive upside so much as present offensive value - could he hit enough for a team to take him in the R5 this year, when he's never played above Low-A? The defense is fantastic, though, and he can play multiple middle-of-the-field positions. I think the risk of losing him would be greater than losing Gilberto Jimenez in the Rule 5, quite honestly.
- Any thoughts on RHP Efren Diaz from dsl
Alex Speier: Not a lot to offer. The fact that he was repeating in the DSL (where he'd also pitched in 2019) made him a bit old for the level. There were strides with the strike throwing but he'll need to get to a more age-appropriate level to have his performance register.
- BA is clearly buying Whitlock as a starter going forward. Are you?
Alex Speier: I mean, I was in charge of that list/future lineup, so blame me! I think Whitlock has at least 60s on his sinker and changeup, with a 50 on his slider, and the chance to get his four-seamer up to a 50 or even 60 if he locks in the command a bit more. So, yes: I'm in on Whitlock as a starter, so long as the stuff proves sustainable in longer outings.
- How high do you see Bryan Mata's ceiling?
Alex Speier: His ceiling? If he can develop command/control, he's got No. 2 starter ceiling. I remain skeptical that his control will progress that far, suggesting that a really good 4-5 inning pitcher or high-leverage reliever role is more likely, but the ceiling is the highest of any pitcher in their system.
- Brandon Walter had dominant season (granted at low level leagues). Do you think he is somebody who could move quickly through the system and help in big leagues in 2022?
Alex Speier: Walter's stuff was incredible. That said, he opened the year in the bullpen, so the Sox will probably have to be somewhat measured in how they handle his innings. For that reason, I'd guess he's more likely a 2023 consideration for the big leagues rather than 2022.
- Heard a lot of great reports on Wilkelman Gonzalez. Was he in consideration for the top 10?
Alex Speier: Mentioned Wilkelman before - there was definitely some consideration for the top 10, and I'd expect him to land pretty close to it.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- Regarding Marcelo Mayer: a) he is just a high school kid so we should advance him slowly - let's start him in 2022 at low A Salem. b) he is a super talent so lets be aggressive and get him to Fenway as soon as we can - we'll start him at high A Greenville. Do you vote for a) or b)?
Alex Speier: Low-A. His strikeout rate was slightly above league-average in the FCL. The last couple years of amateur ball have been very strange due to the pandemic. Let his performance dictate his development path, not vice-versa.
- Thanks Alex. Heyman reported yesterday the Sox were interested in Javy Baez. Two-part question here. 1) If that was to happen, could you see Xander shifting to 2B as early as next year? 2) Do you feel they'll hunt Marcus Semien-esque short-term, high AAV deals at 2B knowing what's coming through the system?
Alex Speier: I don't see the Sox moving Bogaerts off shortstop next year. I do think they'll take a pretty broad look at the market for middle infielders -- but Semien isn't quite the right one to mention, since he'll be getting at least a handful of years! Though if you mean... will they try to find a version of Semien that the Jays got in 2021, the answer is: of course.
- There seems to be a glut of corner types, and that's not even taking Schwarber into consideration. Would JD opting out have alleviated that at all? And how confident are you in Devers' ability to stick at 3B as he gets older?
Alex Speier: I think Devers has all the tools to play third base for several more years. It's just a question of whether he can continue to improve his consistency there. He works hard at it, cares about his defense, and certainly has the lateral range (especially to his left) and arm to play third for more years if he cuts down on careless misplays. As for corner types... that "glut" served them well in the postseason! They've got a ways to go in 2022 before Casas turns it into a bigger crowd.
- Who are you taking, Yorke or Volpe?
Alex Speier: For now, Volpe based on defense, but the fact that this question requires at least some thought is a pretty good reminder of how far Yorke has come.
John (New Braintree):
- How soon do you see Casas making his debut in the majors next season? What will happen with Dalbec if Casas becomes the everyday first baseman?
Alex Speier: I'd expect Casas to arrive sometime in the second half of 2022. TBD on Dalbec based on his performance in his second full big league season, but obviously, Martinez will be a free agent after 2022, so the Sox have different directions they can consider.
- Hey Alex, what do you see as Jeter Downs ceiling? I know he was aggressively pushed to AAA this year and of course had a down year, is he still a potential above average regular? Or was this year that concerning that he may not be what people thought he would be?
Alex Speier: Yes, still the ceiling of an above-average regular - but with bigger questions about whether he'll reach it.
- Hi Alex, did Ceddona Rafaela, Luis Perales and Enderso Lira make your top 30?
Alex Speier: Rafaela is a slam dunk in the top 30. The other guys are considerations but might need a bit more performance at affiliates to solidify their positions.
Alex Speier: Thanks so much to everyone for the great questions! It's always a pleasure to take part in this very special project for Baseball America -- in no small part because of the quality of questions and level of insight offered by the readers and chatters. Thanks for joining today, and Happy Thanksgiving!