2021 Boston Red Sox’ Top 5 Prospectsby Andersen Pickard March 7, 2021 1 comment
The Boston Red Sox have a love-hate relationship with the history of their farm system. Once regarded as one of the best in baseball, it has taken a hit over the past few years as the team aggressively pursued a championship. Now, with the team no longer being perennial contenders, the depth of the farm system is beginning to flourish, though Boston’s pipeline is far from being the best in the sport.
At the higher levels of the list, a trio of infielders and two more pitchers provide promise for the near future. Let’s dive into those five players.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.
1. Jeter Downs, Middle Infielder
Downs was acquired by Boston in last winter’s blockbuster Mookie Betts trade. He makes good contact and has impressive pop for a middle infielder. Downs projects as a second baseman, though he still has enough versatility to play shortstop from time to time, such as when Xander Bogaerts needs a rest day. Downs is a very impressive baseball player whom the Red Sox hope can have an impact in the majors very soon.
2. Triston Casas, First Baseman
Casas is a former first-round pick of the Red Sox who has the potential to be an everyday player in the majors. His bat has impressive pop, though he does own a high strikeout rate. While this is not unusual for power hitters, the Red Sox surely hope to minimize the number of times he strikes out. Defensively, he has a solid glove and isn’t a player who you slot in at designated hitter because they can only hit. Once he reaches the majors, Casas should have an impact both in the field and at the plate.
3. Bryan Mata, Right-Handed Pitcher
The gem of Mata’s repertoire is his fastball, which tops out at 100 mph. He struggles throwing the pitch with command from time to time, but the potential is clearly there. He has also developed a slider, which boasts late break and could be a very effective pitch. However, not all is smooth sailing. His changeup is merely average, and his curveball is a decent pitch but cannot be used late in counts. He has also shown struggles with control, so there is clearly work that needs to be done. To make matters worse, he suffered a slight UCL tear in Spring Training this year. The Red Sox hope to manage it without surgery, but an arm injury always triggers red flags. All in all, Mata has some concerns, but if he can recover from the UCL injury and solidify himself in the upper levels of the minors, he could have an impact in the majors come 2022.
4. Bobby Dalbec, Corner Infielder
Dalbec provides the Red Sox with immense valuable at the plate and on the corners of the infield. Offensively, he is a decent hitter with above-average power, though just like Casas, Dalbec’s hitting approach will likely result in a high strikeout total. Still, his strong bat and righthandedness figure to translate into plenty of home runs over the Green Monster once he reaches the majors. But the fun doesn’t stop there. In the field, Dalbec is a decent fielder with a strong arm given his history as a pitcher. He is a big-bodied player with sneaky footwork and hands, which make up for his subpar range. For Dalbec, he’ll look to build on a 2020 that saw him make his MLB debut and clobber home runs in 10 percent of at-bats.
5. Tanner Houck, Right-Handed Pitcher
Houck is a promising pitcher but does not come without concerns. For starters, his control has been a concern. As for his repertoire, he once had an elite two-seam fastball that lost its flair when the team had him experiment with a four-seamer, which gets hit hard. He doesn’t have much of a curveball, either, having essentially abandoned the pitch. His changeup (which has since been adapted into a splitter) was nothing special and requires work. However, Houck’s best pitch is his slider, which frequently baffles batters. He feels comfortable throwing the whispy, swirling pitch against both lefties and righties with frequent success. All in all, Houck has shown flashes of potential (one earned run in 17 MLB innings last season) but will require more development until he can be released into the rotation with confidence.
What Does the Future Hold?
The future looks bright for Boston with Chaim Bloom at the helm. His aggressive approach to securing hard-throwing right-handed pitchers worked out nicely in Tampa Bay, and Boston is surely looking for much of the same in the upcoming years.
Just missing the cut for this list were pitchers Jay Groome and Noah Song. Outfielders Jarren Duran and Gilberto Jimenez are also not far off, while 2020 draft picks Nick Yorke and Blaze Jordan provide intriguing options several years down the road.
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