In the face of adversity, it is tough to look at the bright side. If you get fired from your job, you’d scoff at someone who told you “Well, at least now you can look forward to the future.” In that moment you’re seeing red. You’re thinking, to hell with the future! How will I survive now? How will I pay bills, how will I take care of my family? In the midst of all of these in-the-moment thoughts, people tend to lose sight of any sense of the past or future. All past accomplishments and foundations don’t matter, and any hope for the future is lost. Sports fans alike can fall into this type of thinking at times. When your team is struggling, who cares how many titles they won in the recent past? Who cares how many top prospects they have coming up, or how much money is coming off the books this offseason? I wanna win, and I want it now!
Through the recent perils of the Boston Red Sox, it’s tough to look at any bright side. The rival New York Yankees are the hottest team in baseball right now. They have seen themselves slide down the ladder of the AL East standings all the way to third place where they sit currently behind the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays. Hanging on to their playoff lives, the likely scenario for a successful season is to see them nab that second wild-card spot, where they’ll more than likely have to travel to New York or host the Oakland Athletics.
AL Playoff Odds/Projections (through August 25)
Humans in the face of adversity often look for a party to place the blame on. For sports fans, that blame more often than not gets directed toward the front office. In Boston’s case, some of the fan ire is directed toward Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom. He is the man in charge, and who fans look to whenever transactions are made (or not). During this year’s trade deadline there was an outcry from fans begging Bloom to acquire one of the top names available. From Anthony Rizzo to Joey Gallo, to Max Scherzer. Anyone with star-power was welcomed. When the deadline came and went and, the front office remained conservative, many fans took to social media to voice their frustrations.
In Chaim We Trust?
Was this justified? Should Bloom and the front office have done more to fill glaring needs at first base and within the starting rotation? While that’s up for debate, it should be noted that considering Bloom’s history, the conservative approach at the deadline should not be a surprise at all. Let’s take a brief look at his approach. In April, Bloom stated three words that defined his approach to running the Red Sox organization. Those three words: depth, versatility, flexibility. When he spoke about this, he was mainly speaking of the big-league club, but let’s go a little deeper on that first word.
Depth was part of that vision for the 2021 season. With the addition of free agents like Enrique Hernandez, and Marwin Gonzalez, Bloom envisioned a squad that could mix and match different lineups, presenting opposing teams with various looks offensively. Defensively, those aforementioned utility men could step in just about anywhere on defense, allowing key stars opportunities to rest throughout the season. Aside from the big-league club, depth isn’t just relegated to describe the top level. Organizations determine their value by what the future holds at the lower levels. When you look at the Red Sox and see what they have brewing underneath, you will see that Bloom and the front office are channeling their inner Dr. Gero office are quietly building something potentially very special (and dangerous) below the surface of the show.
Down on the Farm
For some time, the Red Sox’ minor league system was nothing to write home about. In 2020 the Red Sox came in at No. 24 in MLB.com’s farm system rankings, 24th! Then top prospect Bobby Dalbec was expected to build off his strong (but short) showing in the 2021 season. Dalbec’s season has been a huge disappointment, but there were also the likes of Olympic silver medalist Triston Casas, and Jeter Downs. Casas and Downs were both (Casas still is) in MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects.
Even with that said, none of the Sox’ top prospects were expected to make an impact with the big club any time soon (except for Tanner Houck and Dalbec). It looked as if the cupboard was pretty bare. That was last year. This year however the Red Sox have moved up a whopping 12 spots. With the emergence of speedy outfielder Jarren Duran, and the steady presence of the aforementioned Casas the Red Sox all of a sudden have one of the better farm systems, and dome pretty intriguing prospects to watch for.
Red Sox Minor League Rankings According to MLB.com
Mayer of the FCL
When speaking of the farm system, it is only right to start with the top prospect. 18-year-old phenom Marcelo Mayer has made his presence felt in his first eight games as a professional. Already posting a .803 OPS for the Florida Complex League Red Sox, Mayer has flashed that big-time power potential that scouts salivated over during the draft process. Three of Mayer’s first seven hits have gone for extra bases. Yes, it’s early but watching crush dingers so early on has made Red Sox fans imaginations run wild, visualizing a future superstar in the making.
Quite a few scouts were amazed to see Mayer fall to the number four pick. One scout was quoted as saying he was “in shock” when the Detroit Tigers passed on Mayer with the third pick, allowing the Red Sox to swoop in and take him. Tracking Mayer’s process will be one of the most intriguing storylines going forward. Every fanbase needs that top prospect to get behind. The Rays had Wander Franco, the Baltimore Orioles have Adley Rutschman, the Yankees have Jasson Dominguez. Now the Red Sox can have a guy that they can put in that category. Currently sitting as the No. 1 overall prospect in the organization according to MLB.com Mayer could eventually find himself as the number one overall prospect in baseball period.
Blaze of Glory
One prospect not in MLB’s top 100, but very well could be in the future is the 6’2, 220 pound 18-year-old Blaze Jordan. Jordan, just like Mayer is no stranger to attention. Considered a phenom in his own right, Jordan decided to forgo his college eligibility and sign with the Red Sox in 2020. Since becoming a professional ball player, Jordan has not disappointed. He absolutely mashed in the Florida Complex league. Check this slash line out: .362/.408/.667 (19 games). That’s absurd for an 18-year-old stepping foot on a pro field for the first time. He was even honored as the Minor League Player of the Week for the week of July 26th. Jordan was so impressive he was rewarded by being promoted to Single-A Salem in the beginning of August.
Since joining Salem, Jordan is still showing his power. In his first four games, he’s already homered twice and is slugging .563. Again, it’s still early but the foundation is there. While Jordan is still getting acquainted with pro pitching, it’s exciting to see his power translate to higher levels. The big key for Jordan will be how well he defends. Currently a primary third baseman, he could potentially be a good candidate at first base as he climbs the ranks. His moneymaker will always be that god-like power he showed as an amateur and in his brief pro career.
In the ilk of a Blaze Jordan there are a few under-the-radar prospects within the system that are worth mentioning. We all know Casas; we know Duran, but there are others that are responsible for the Red Sox making a jump in the system rankings. Take someone like last year’s first-round pick Nick Yorke. Yorke’s selection at No. 17 was a head-scratcher at the time. Now, Yorke is looking like the potential steal of the 2020 draft.
Yorke owned Salem in his 75 games there this season. He put up a slash line of .323/.413/.500. He too was promoted due to his stellar play. Now in High-A Greenville, Yorke has been one of the biggest surprises in the minors. This is all despite a super slow start of the season. In his first 91 plate appearances, Yorke was hitting just .195/.264/.220. Since June though, he has raised his game. One of the most impressive elements of Yorke’s game has been his plate discipline. In a very rare feat, he has walked (33) more than he struck out (26) during his last 55 games with Salem. It’s even more impressive when you consider he’s only 19.
A Lot to Look Forward To
Yes, things haven’t been going the best for the major league club. Yes, there are some holes to fill, but the future is bright. In due time, Bloom and the Red Sox hope to obtain the minor league depth that the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers were able to build during the 2010’s. With the likes of the players mentioned here, it’s looking like the plan is coming to fruition. In just one year the Red Sox farm system has gone from one of the worst, to the top half of the league. Will all of these players be in a Red Sox uniform one day? Maybe they will. Even if some of them never call Fenway Park home their talent could be enough to be a part of a trade that helps the Red Sox snag one of those big-time names (Perhaps Yoan Moncada for Chris Sale).
Knowing that the Red Sox have one of the more favorable situations in the league should help the fanbase ease its mind. No one expected this year to be this competitive. There’s still a chance to make this year even more special than it already has been. Chaim Bloom has shown that he knows what he’s doing. It may take a little to bear the fruit, but at least the seeds are being planted. Rest easy Red Sox fans.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images
Anthony Rizzo, Joey Gallo, Max Scherzer, Enrique Hernandez, Marwin Gonzalez, Bobby Dalbec, Triston Casas, Jeter Downs, Tanner Houck, Jarren Duran, Marcelo Mayer, Wander Franco, Adley Rutschman, Jasson Dominguez, Blaze Jordan, Nick Yorke, Yoan Moncada, Chris Sale