Remember when you could play as Yoshi for the first time in a Mario game? Maybe it was Mario Tennis. Maybe you could count riding him in that first SNES game? Remember how great it felt to win a Mariocart race as Yoshi? 

Boston members. 

Though they lack a truly elite prospect, the Red Sox have assembled an exciting group of hitters that should matriculate to Fenway in waves over the next few seasons. Best system I’ve seen here in four years doing these lists. Took me a long time to whittle down to these top ten. 

 

1. SS Marcelo Mayer | 20 | A+ | 2024

Mayer turned 20 on Monday this week, just a few days after Boston turned the organization over to him by watching Xander Bogaerts walk away with AJ Preller. It’s not like you’re sitting on a historic landmark that prints money or anything. Gotta play it smart. Which, maybe it’ll turn out that they did. The 6’3” 188 lb Mayer was the near-consensus top player in the 2021 draft but fell to Boston at 4th overall, so the Bogaerts departure feels like an ongoing thread from the story of that night. Mayer posted a 127 wRC+ in 25 games in High-A as a 19-year-old, which is pretty absurd but might have to hold 2023’s beer if Mayer rushes his way up to the majors, which would surprise everyone but shock nobody.

 

2. 1B Triston Casas | 22 | MLB | 2022

I’ve been working toward a dynasty buys article when I can squirrel aside some time to do it, and Casas makes a pretty good . . . argument to be included. I doubt he qualifies as a buy low in an OBP league. Maybe not in batting average leagues either, except that I just saw him traded in a standard 5×5 for a return that made me wish I’d asked about him. There’s keeper complications involved in the highlander dynasty, so it’s tough to pinpoint a player’s value out of context. James Anderson dealt Casas and Kevin Alcantara to Alex Sanchez for Aaron Ashby. Pitching is at a premium in that league right now, but I’m buying all day at this price. Casas struggled a bit in 27 major league games (.197 AVG) but still hit five home runs and posted a .358 OBP. Might have some tough stretches as he learns the pitchers, but he’s the kind of player who should do exactly that, flipping the familiarity advantage toward his favor across time.

 

3. OF Masataka Yoshida | 29 | NPB | 2023

I keep hearing opinions from people who’ve never seen Yoshida play. It’s okay though because they’re saying they’re hearing it from other people. And presumably those people have seen him play. Hopefully more than once, and hopefully it was against good pitchers he’s seen before. At 5’9” 1?? lbs , Yoshida is exactly the kind of player scouts doubt every step of the way. The key takeaway for now is that he was completely dominant for a half-decade in Japan, walking twice as much as he struck out while swatting 20-plus home runs and producing MVP-level slash lines. He’s currently around the 400 spot in NFBC drafts. Feels like easy money there. We know one thing for sure: Boston loves him and will give him more time than they gave Rusney Castillo to get situated . . . I hope.

 

4. SS OF Ceddanne Rafaela | 22 | AA | 2023

An excellent defender with elite hands and good speed, Rafaela has been adding power and plate skills the past few seasons. He hit 21 home runs and stole 28 bases across two levels last season. Even reduced his strikeout rate 5.9 percent from High-A to Double-A. Could be an impact piece for us and the Red Sox this year. Seems to me he represents the new prototype in the organization. One of the key lessons Chaim Bloom brought with him from Tampa is prizing plus defenders who run well and can play multiple positions while developing into tough outs in the batter’s box.

 

5. OF Miguel Bleis | 19 | CPX | 2025

You could put Bleis just about anywhere on this list. He improved in a hurry during his 40-game stretch in the complex league. His final-eight-game line is better than his final-20-game line is better than his 40-game line. Guys like Bleis are why I’m incessantly slicing and dicing game logs to help decipher the stories of seasons. At 6’3” 170 lbs, Bleis features plus speed and power and anything a young outfield prospect could want.

 

6. SS Eddinson Paulino | 20 | A | 2025

You don’t have to cherry-pick the game logs to make Eddinson Paulino’s 2022 season look good. He stole 27 bases and smoked 58 extra base hits in 114 games against players who were (on average) 1.7 years older than him, slashing .266/.359/.469 with 64 walks and 105 strikeouts. Like a lot of these guys, Paulino is a smallish (5’10” 155 lbs) left-handed hitter with good hands who has played all over the diamond. If I were cutting it fine to observe a possible spike in development, I’d note Paulino’s outburst from July 14 through the season’s end (38 games). He slashed .325/.417/.558 with seven home runs, ten stolen bases, and a 13.3 percent to 17.2 percent walk-to-strikeout rate. He’ll open the year in High-A, but if he starts hot, I’m anticipating an early jump to Double-A as kind of a make-up-call for leaving him in Low-A to close this season.

 

7. 2B Enmanuel Valdez | 24 | AAA | 2023

Valdez came over from Houston in the Christian Vazquez deal. Rode the struggle bus a bit in Pawtucket, where he hit seven home runs in 44 games despite losing 38 points of on-base percentage and adding 7.8 percent to his strikeout rate compared to his 38 games in Triple-A for Houston. A 5’9” 191 lb left-handed hitter who popped 28 home runs across two levels, Valdez might struggle with the deep right field in Boston, but he’s got good enough plate skills and hands that I like his chances to adapt.

 

8. SS Matthew Lugo | 21 | AA | 2024

Lugo is another guy who might’ve earned a promotion a while before he got it, posting a 126 wRC+ in 114 games at High-A. The season-per-level system works for Tampa and is producing positive outcomes here, too, as the 6’1” 187 lb Lugo played well in his full-season against similar-age players, slashing .288/.344/.500 with 18 home runs and 20 steals. He’s not especially fast but could remain aggressive enough to help in that category with the new baserunning rules.

 

9. 1B Blaze Jordan | 20 | A+ | 2024

The name alone will keep Jordan high on lists for a long time, but there’s a lot more than cool-sounding syllables to like here. Jordan appears to be mid-renaissance as a high school powerhouse who’s zeroed in on controlling the strike zone and minimizing strikeouts as a professional. In 95 games at Low-A, Jordan struck out just 67 times (16.1 percent), and while that number jumped to 25.5 percent in 25 High-A games, the trajectory is clear: Jordan is something more than just a power bat. Best number nine prospect I’ve seen this year.

 

10. 2B Nick Yorke | 20 | A+ | 2025

My wife likes those peppermint patties, so that’s what I’m dealing with. Have mostly felt the same way about Nick Yorke, a medium-good athlete who slashed .231/.303/.365 in 80 games at High-A. I ate some crow when it looked like I was wrong about disliking the pick when Boston took Yorke in the first round, so I guess I’ll spit some of that up for the moment along with anyone who invested in the 6’0” 200 lb second baseman slash designated hitter. What a word combination that is!

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Elonissmartandfunnyackshually.com

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NUX
NUX
1 month ago

Itch any thought to David Hamilton, swiper of 70 bags last year at AA? I see they protected him on 40 man over Jeter Downs. Maybe up some time in the summer doing the things we were hoping Duran would be doing last year?

Snagged him late at the end of year, just before the wire closed until opening of 2024 season in spring. I didn’t expect to see him on the list, just wonder where in the list he would end up off top of your mind. Mostly due to proximity of course. Slightly ahead of Thad Ward/mid-teens? Or behind? SAGNOF!!! Appreciate any insight ya got, as always. Be well bruthaman

Last edited 1 month ago by NUX
Brad
Brad
1 month ago

Loving the prospect posts Itch! Keep ‘em coming!

Getting geared up for the season and I have some tough decisions to make my dynasty league. Rookies who lose their eligibility can be kept for long and cheap, but it’s a 4 year commitment. Right now, I have to basically decide between making that 4 year commitment or letting some guys go to the draft. Would you sign up for the 4 years or let them go?

CJ Abrams
O’Neil Cruz
Jose Miranda

Also, I’ve got the first overall pick in next years draft. It’s usually top prospects from FYPD at the top. I’m hoping to push for a playoff spot next year and don’t know where to go withy draft pick. Jones, Holiday, Painter, Manzardo, etc. will be available and not sure which way to go. Leaning jones for the long term upside, but painter in a win soon mindset is appealing.

Thanks for any input!

Dan
Dan
1 month ago

Great write up! Do you think Valdez gets many big league at bats this year or spends most of the year seasoning at AAA?

junior56
junior56
1 month ago

Mornin’ Itch

Thanks for another Jim Dandy List! What’s your opinion of Niko Kavadas? Where would you rank him?
I have a FYP draft in a 16-team dynasty league in a couple of weeks January 1. Where would you slot Oscar Colas in that draft? top 5? Top 10?

Thanks

RoarOf84
RoarOf84
1 month ago

Itch! Would love some early-ish keeper advice.
League context: 10 teams with 12 keepers each (no stipulations around keeping them). Scoring is h2h categories (6×6 with holds and OPS as the last categories).

My locked in keepers (9 of 12) are as follows:

Ohtani (SP/U eligible)
Acuna
Julio
Soto
J-Ram
Olson
Wander
deGrom
Manoah

Which 3 are you keeping from this list?

Varsho
Jordan Walker
Gilbert
Freddy P
Grayson
Buehler
Hader

I’m leaning towards Gilbert and Grayson which would put me at 11. For the last spot, I’d get a pick in the “supplemental draft” which, at worst, I could just select another player from this list or, at best, I could possibly upgrade via another non-kept castaway. In your eyes, is there a 3rd that is a must?

philip
philip
1 month ago

Thanks for the list, Itch! Bleis and Rafaela are interesting, for sure.

You’ll have to forgive me because I keep asking questions about the same people, going around in a circle, trying to line up my approach for 2023. You’re a great guy to bounce ideas off, so I hope you don’t mind too much.

If you held Matt Olson and Jose Miranda at 1st base in your 20-team roto dynasty league, and you had Esteury Ruiz and Bubba Thompson in left field, and your rotation was … ahem … McClanahan, Woodruff, Urias, Nola, Ray, May, and Peralta…

With your first pick in the nypd, would you take Mervis 1B, Manzardo 1B, Yoshida (LF), or Senga (SP)?

I’m playing to win now and over the next five years. I was planning on grabbing one of the 1B if available at pick nine, but now I’m looking hard at the two Japanese guys. If my team has a true weakness, it is left field and batting average. Yoshida would seem to remedy that. But is he the best guy to nab?

Thanks so much for all your help and consideration!

Philip
Philip
Reply to  The Itch
1 month ago

I could make a move for Arozarena, but I doubt I’d include Olson in the deal. Yordan is cost prohibitive. Brian Reynolds’s owner is tough to deal with and a prime competitor. Santander could probably be had. LF is a bit of a wasteland.

If I can’t trade for someone then I’m left staring at the four above mentioned players in the draft. My inclination has been to grab Senga and scramble to supplement whatever Ruiz can provide. But Yoshida would allow me to relax a bit. Truth be told I like Manzardo best, but he’s not helpful anytime soon.

Norman Ginsberg
Norman Ginsberg
1 month ago

Where would Ward have rated if he wasn’t claimed in the Rule 5 draft?

galica1234
galica1234
1 month ago

The Itch!!!!

Awesome!!!!

a. Yorke was drafted in our 2022 supplementary minors draft in round 10. Is that too early for him? Is there still hope for him?

b. Great series I’m watching…’The Devil’s Hour.’ It’s British crime mystery drama with a lemon twist. Highly recommended.

c. Love this and love Casas and Yoshi a lot. Great intel.

d. George Carlin quote of the day for December 14, 2022

‘Now, speaking of blowjobs. Do you know why they call it a blowjob? So it’ll sound like it has kind of a work ethic attached to it. Make you feel like you did something useful for the economy. Long as I’m being a complete pig up here, let me ask you guys a question. Let me ask one question of the men. Are you ever able to watch a woman eating a banana and not think about a blowjob, huh? I can’t do it. I can’t do it, and I know why, I’m a sick evil fuck, I know that. I accept that. But I can’t do it. Eating a banana, eating a pickle, licking on an ice cream cone. I’m saying to myself, look at the tongue on her, wow. So you women be careful when you’re standing out in front of that Hagen Daas, because God damn it, we’re watching. And God damn it, we’re thinking. Another woman’s issue, prostitution. I do not understand why prostitution is illegal. Why should prostitution be illegal? Selling is legal, fucking is legal. Why isn’t selling fucking legal? You know, why should it be illegal to sell something that’s perfectly legal to give away? I can’t follow the logic on that at all. Of all the things you can do to a person, giving someone an orgasm is hardly the worst thing in the world. In the Army, they give you a medal for spraying Napalm on people. Civilian life, you go to jail for giving someone an orgasm. Maybe I’m not supposed to understand it.’

DOIN’ IT AGAIN (1990)

Cheers,
Ante