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MiLB: MAY 18 Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Worcester Red Sox

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Red Sox Prospects Report: August

A look at the playoff standings and scenarios throughout the Red Sox affiliates, and the best prospect performances on the farm over the past 30 days.

Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While the Major League Baseball regular season runs through the first day of October, the minor league seasons run a lot shorter. At the lower levels, we’re just over two weeks away from the end of the regular season. Fortunately, this year the improving Red Sox minor league affiliates have numerous opportunities to play in the playoffs at their respective levels. For this month’s Red Sox Prospects Report, we will look at the schedules, standings, and scenarios at each level that could play out in order to play deep into the month of September, as well as identify one player at each level who has stood out over the past month.

In recent years, Minor League Baseball has developed a “two halves” format at all levels, which gives both the first-half winner and the second-half winner an opportunity to play in the playoffs. Low-A, High-A, and Double-A send four teams from each league to the playoffs for a Divisional Series and a Championship Series. Triple-A sends just two teams from each league to the playoffs, but also features a single-game National Championship game. You can read about all that fun here.

Triple-A Worcester Red Sox: 67-54 overall

MiLB: JUL 7 International League - Syracuse Mets at Worcester Red Sox Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Regular Season End Date: September 24

Playoff Format (2 teams): International League First Half Overall Champion hosts the International League Second Half Overall Champion in a 3-game series. Winner heads to Las Vegas for a one-game National Championship game against the Pacific Coast League champion.

First Half: The Norfolk Tides captured the lone playoff spot at 48-26, winning the 20-team league by 4.5 games. Worcester finished tied for eighth at 39-36, 9.5 games back.

Second Half: At 28-18, Worcester sits just a half-game back of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (29-18) for first place, tied in the loss column. This likely won’t be a two-team race over the final month, however, as eight other teams are within 3.5 games of first place.

Double-A Portland Sea Dogs: 63-53 overall

Regular Season End Date: September 17

Playoff Format (4 teams): Eastern League Northeast first and second Half Winners, Eastern League Southwest first and second Half Winners. Best-of-3 Division series, followed by best-of-3 Championship Series.

First Half: The Somerset Patriots (42-26) edged out the Sea Dogs (40-29) by two-and-a-half games for the Northeast title. The Erie SeaWolves (37-31) won the Southwest.

Second Half: Somerset (26-21) leads the Northeast again and if that holds, then the second-place team will advance. That would currently be Binghamton (24-22) but the Sea Dogs (23-24) trail them by 1.5 games. The Bowie Baysox and Richmond Flying Squirrels (27-20) are tied in the Southwest.

High-A Greenville Drive: 56-60 overall

Regular Season End Date: September 10

Playoff Format (4 teams): South Atlantic League North first and second Half Winners, South Atlantic League South first and second Half Winners. Best-of-3 Division series, followed by best-of-3 Championship Series.

First Half: The Greenville Drive, at 36-30, took down the first half in the South by just a half-game over the Winston-Salem Dash, clinching a playoff spot. The North division went to the Hudson Valley Renegades (39-27).

Second Half: The split-season format will certainly benefit the Drive, as they are in last place in the South Division at 20-30, having lost their last eight games. The Hickory Crawdads are 33-16, up by 4.5 games with a couple of weeks remaining. In the North, the Jersey Shore BlueClaws have a slim lead at 30-20.

Playoff Schedule: Greenville will be on the road for Game 1 (opponent TBD) on Tuesday 9/12, before coming home for Game 2 on Thursday 9/14, and, if necessary, Game 3 on Friday 9/15.

Low-A Salem Red Sox: 51-62 overall

Regular Season End Date: September 10

Playoff Format (4 teams): Carolina League North first and second Half Winners, Carolina League South 1st and 2nd Half Winners. Best-of-3 Division series, followed by best-of-3 Championship Series.

First Half: The Down East Wood Ducks (37-24) won the North and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (39-26) won the South. Salem (30-33) finished 8 games back in the North.

Second Half: The Carolina Mudcats (30-20) lead the North, with Salem in last, 9 games out. The Charleston RiverDogs (32-18) lead the South.

There you have it. Outside of Low-A, all Red Sox affiliates have a decent shot at playing some playoff games. Greenville is in, and Worcester and Portland are right there in the second half.

Who’s Hot?

Let’s look at players who have stood out over the past 30 days. All prospect rankings in parentheses come from the excellent work of

Worcester: Wilyer Abreu, OF (Rank: 23)

Sure, he was called up to the Big Club on Tuesday to take the spot of Jarren Duran but he has been the star of the show with the Woo Sox over the last month. He has a .373/.473/.787 line over 23 games, which includes 9 HR, 28 RBI, and 21 runs in just 75 at-bats. This included a three-homer game on August 13th, which capped off a week with six home runs total. Abreu had a 15.4 BB% and a 14.3 K% over the past month, as well. He was most recently ranked 23rd at Sox Prospects, which seems likely to rise in future updates.

Part of the return in the Christian Vazquez deal with Houston, Abreu has above-average power (obviously) but had some questions about his hit tool. After two years with strikeout rates in the 26-30% range, Abreu has dropped that to just 20.4% at Triple-A this season, a very encouraging sign.

Last 30 Days: 23 G, 75 AB, .373/.473/.787, 9 HR, 28 RBI, 21 R, 4 2B, 3/3 SBs, 15.4 BB%, 14.3 K%, 202 wRC+

Season: 86 G, 299 AB, .274/.391/.538, 22 HR, 65 RBI, 67 R, 11 2B, 8/9 SB, 16.3% BB, 20.4% K, 128 wRC+

Portland: Nick Yorke (Rank: 6)

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

It has been a bit of an up-and-down ride for Nick Yorke during his three years in the Red Sox system. A surprising 17th overall pick to many, Yorke impressed in alternate site work in 2020 and raked at multiple combined in 97 games. 2022 was an injury-filled season that could never really get off the ground for Yorke, hitting .231 in 80 games. This year also had some rough patches but the last 30 days for Yorke has taken off.

Last 30 Days: 19 G, 82 AB, .305/.367/.524, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 12 R, 6 2B, 4/4 SBs, 6.7% BB, 22.2% K, 142 wRC+

Season: 93 G, 429 AB, .277/.354/.456, 13 HR, 56 RBI, 62 R, 19 2B, 10/15 SBs, 9.6% BB, 24.7% K, 121 wRC+

As a fringe-average defensive player at second base per Sox Prospects and a 30/40 Field ranking at Fangraphs, the pressure is on the bat to perform for Yorke. The recent shift rule changes increase that even further for second basemen. The past 30 days are a good sign and hopefully, we see Yorke in Worcester next season as a 22-year-old.

Greenville: Allan Castro (Rank: 20)

As mentioned previously, the second half has not been pretty for Greenville and finding a positive spin isn’t easy, specifically on the pitching side of things. However, outfielder Allan Castro is a name that has been a pleasant surprise in 2023 and is jumping up prospect rankings. Entering the season, Sox Prospects identified him as “one of the most interesting hitters on a loaded 2022 FCL team” and Eric Longenhagen at Fangraphs described him as having “advanced bat-to-ball skills from both sides of the plate, and his lefty swing has lovely uppercut, generating more in-game pop than his righty cut.”

Nonetheless, neither site had Castro in the top-35 in the system but he has shined since his move up to Greenville in July. Using July 14th as an easier cutoff point when he was promoted, Castro’s line since arriving at Greenville:

29 G, 113 AB, .319/.386/.522, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 18 R, 7 2B, 2/3 SB, 9.4% BB, 18.9% K, 145 wRC+

Castro is likely a corner outfielder long-term but has played all over the outfield throughout his time in the minor leagues with average speed and average field ratings.

Salem: Jedixson Paez (Rank: 40)

Paez may not have the upside of many of the pitchers in the Red Sox organization, but his secondary stuff grades out very well. If he could ever find a bit of an uptick in velocity, he could be a name to watch. Longenhagen described Paez as having “remarkable command for a 19-year-old and his fastball/changeup duo diverge from his slider in a way that keeps the baseball off the barrel.” The slider and changeup both grade out as average to above average, but his fastball tops out at 92. He’s been great over the past 30 days, allowing five earned runs and striking out 19 over 23 innings, and has been superb over the past eight starts:

Past 8 starts: 8 GS, 4-1, 1.50 ERA 42 IP, 30 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 36 K, 19.5 K-BB%, 0.83 WHIP, .199 Opp. BA

Season: 16 GS, 4-5, 3.56 ERA, 75.1 IP, 64 H, 34 R, 29 ER, 12 BB, 64 K, 17.2 K-BB%, 1.01 WHIP, .224 Opp. BA

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