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Red Sox Prospects Report: June

A busy month on the farm featured some key promotions, breakouts, injuries, and more.

Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

It’s hard to believe that we are at the halfway point of the 2023 baseball season and, as the month is coming to a close, it’s time for the June version of the Red Sox Prospects Report. With the way things have looked on the field with the big league club over the past eight days, what a blessing it is that I only need to write about the minor leagues this week. We’ve got promotions, emerging pitchers, and depressing season-ending injuries to talk about from the past 30 days on the farm. All prospect rankings in parentheses come from the excellent work of Let’s get into it!

Worcester Red Sox (Triple-A)

Notable Promotion: Ryan Fernandez, RHP (Sox Prospects Rank: 27)

(Note: Ceddanne Rafaela is also being promoted for his first game on 6/29)

Fernandez’s stuff noticeably ticked up in 2022, coinciding with a gain in velocity into the high 90s, while also mixing in a cutter and a slider. He struck out 56 in 39 2/3 innings but still had an ERA north of four at multiple levels. This year, the results finally ticked up as well at Portland, with a 1.77 ERA and 26 strikeouts over 20 1/3 innings. Since arriving at Worcester, first appearing on the 18th of June, Fernandez has had three more shutout outings. Don’t be surprised to see the 25-year-old in Boston before the end of the year, as the injuries continue to pile up at the top level.

Who’s Hot: Nick Sogard, SS (Rank: 58)

MiLB: MAY 04 Buffalo Bisons at Worcester Red Sox - Game 1 Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sogard is not anywhere to be found near the top of Red Sox prospect lists, but he has been incredibly reliable at a position that is a glaring need up in Boston. Fueled by a 13.8%/19.2% BB/K%, Sogard has a .296/.393/.389 slash line with 35 runs, 27 RBI, and 11 stolen bases, hitting in the leadoff spot for Chad Tracy’s squad. Defensively, Sox Prospects describes Sogard as having “soft hands, advanced feel for the game, and strong instincts” at shortstop, and can also play second and third base.

Jake Devereaux asked on our Red Seat podcast Tuesday if the shortstop position was dire enough for Sogard to get a chance for his ability to get on base and being fundamentally sound defensively. You tell me if it’s dire enough…

Fangraphs SS Defense

Who’s Not: Shane Drohan, RHP (Rank: 5)

On the season, Drohan has been a pleasant surprise and in the conversation for best pitching prospect in the organization, due in part to proximity to Boston. His improvements in velocity, as well as the addition of a cutter were noted in the April recap. However, he hasn’t been the same pitcher since his promotion to Worcester. Most notably, the control has not been the same and he’s been getting torched by the long ball.

Shane Drohan AA vs AAA

Drohan learned this week that he’ll be heading to the Futures Game during All Star Weekend.

Portland Sea Dogs (Double-A)

Notable Promotion: Marcelo Mayer (Rank: 1)

Another participant in the Futures Game over the All Star Break will be Marcelo Mayer, who forced his way up to Portland less than a month ago. Mayer had a 141 wRC+ at Greenville, slashing .290/.366/.524 over 35 games. He’s hitting just .177 over 21 games in Portland but has homered five times and has gotten wildly unlucky by running a .153 BABIP. Mayer’s strikeout rate is 20.2%, the best rate Mayer has had at any stop in the minors. The top prospect in the system will be fine in due time.

Who’s Hot: OF Ceddanne Rafaela (Rank: 3)

Sea Dogs vs. New Hampshire Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Rafaela spent more time than expected at Double-A, having first arrived at the level at the start of June 2022. The chase rate was subpar for the majority of his time at Portland and, while that reportedly hasn’t changed a whole lot, he had now been there for more than a full year and was on a heater for the past month. Over the last 30 days, Rafaela had a .357 average and a .947 OPS with three home runs, nine doubles, and ten stolen bases. His defense continued to be electric in center field after winning the Defensive Player of the Year award two years running in the Red Sox system, but with five errors in nine games at shortstop, it seems likely he’ll stick to the outfield. Rafaela just got the call to Worcester, with his first game expected to be on Thursday.

Who’s Not: RHP Wyatt Olds (Rank: N/A)

The seventh-round pick in 2021, Olds showed flashes in his first year-and-a-half of a potential relief arm long-term for Boston. His control was not great as a starter, leading to a 6.01 ERA, but he struck out 130 batters in 106 innings at High-A a year ago. I always rooted for Wyatt Olds because I thought it would be one of the great relief arm names in baseball. “Wyatt Olds strikes out the side, shooting off finger pistols into the air in celebration.” However, his stats on the season are worrisome and he’s been sent to the Complex League to get things back in order.

2023: 10 G, 8 GS, 25 2/3 IP, 0-3, 10.17 ERA, 2.38 WHIP, 40 BB, 11 HBP, 33 K. (Portland stats only)

Greenville Drive (High-A)

Notable Promotion: OF Roman Anthony (Rank: 6)

2022 Red Sox Draft Signings Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

It sounds like Anthony’s eye at the plate was just too damn good for that Low-A pitching. Give this guy something to hit, for crying out loud. Anthony had “just” a .228 average and one home run in 42 games at Low-A but he was walking 18.8% of the time (.376 OBP) and his batted ball numbers were reportedly fantastic. He hasn’t disappointed since arriving in Greenville, with five home runs and four doubles already, in 11 games. A 210 wRC+!

Who’s Hot: RHP Wikelman Gonzalez (Rank: 12)

Gonzalez has had some ups and downs during his minor league career. He has showed flashes of brilliance and upside, with Sox Prospects labeling Gonzalez as having the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter and three average-to-better pitches (Fastball, Changeup, Curve). 2022 was a mixed bag but Gonzalez eventually made it to Greenville and had four very good outings to finish the season (17 IP, 2.65 ERA, 6 BB, 23 K).

This year, Gonzalez walked more than a batter per inning over his first eight starts, leading to a 7.42 ERA. However, over his past five starts (5/27-on) Gonzalez has been locked in. He’s gone five or more innings in each of those starts, with an outrageous 43.3 K% and only a 8.7 BB%. If he keeps this up, we should see the 21-year-old in Portland later this year.

Last 5 Starts: 25 2/3 IP, 16 H, 7 ER, 9 BB, 45 K, 2.45 ERA, .172 Opp BA

Who’s Not: 2B Eddinson Paulino (Rank: 11)

It hasn’t been catastrophic, but Paulino has had a rough month, hitting .209 with a .604 OPS and an inflated 29.3 K% over the past 30 days. He did homer twice in a game last week. Paulino is just 20-years-old and plays a decent second base defensively, alongside Brainer Bonaci as the double-play tandem in Greenville.

Last 30: .209/.253/.352, 63 wRC+, 5.1 BB%, 29.3 K%

Season: .232/.307/.386, 91 wRC+, 8.1 BB%, 24.1 K%

Salem Red Sox (Low-A):

Notable Promotion: RHP Yordanny Monegro (Rank: N/A)

Although he’s made just one start at Salem since his promotion from the Complex League, that start lead to our Minor Lines being titled “The Yordanny Monegro Game” on Monday. Monegro’s 11 strikeouts in five shutout innings were a continuation of his FCL dominance. Over four starts between the two levels, Monegro has thrown 20 innings, allowed two runs, walked just four, and struck out 31. He also has the best picture on the Sox Prospects website:

Kelly O’Connor

Who’s Hot: RHP Luis Perales (Rank: 8)

Perales started slow, walking 17 batters over 19 1/3 innings in his six starts to open the season. Beginning on May 27th, he’s been locked in, and has walked zero or one batters in 4-of-5 starts since. Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes told us on The Red Seat Podcast earlier this month that he had no doubt that Perales has the highest ceiling of any Red Sox pitching prospect in the organization, sitting 94-97 mph and touching 99 with a plus curveball and a changeup that should get there eventually. Perales’ inning count will likely stay low, since he didn’t throw in 2020 (pandemic), threw 2 innings in 2021, and 35 a year ago, but he is only 20 and should have a great future ahead of him.

Who’s Not: OF Miguel Bleis (Rank: 2)

Sigh. I was more excited to watch Bleis than any other prospect in the system this year in his first go-around at full-season ball. His season ended earlier this month, undergoing left shoulder surgery, after slashing just .230/.282/.325 prior to that. Who knows how long he had been hurt for but the final straw occurred on a swing May 30th. The comps may have gotten out of hand in the offseason, but many scouts felt Bleis was the best player they saw at the complex level a year ago. Let’s hope that the procedure cleans things up and he is healthy to begin 2023.

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