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May 7, 2021 at 12:00 PM

2021 SoxProspects Pre-Season All-Stars Pt. 1 - Hitters

With the return of minor league baseball comes the return of another annual tradition - the SoxProspects.com Preseason All-Stars. Below are eight position players that the SoxProspects community is very excited to follow this year, with some having a shot at making MLB debuts this summer. 

Catcher: Connor Wong, Worcester Red Sox
Wong is the top catching prospect in the system and ranked 18th overall. He is very athletic for a catcher, as he was a shortstop in college. He also possess a lot of power that has translated well into his professional career so far with 34 home runs in 173 games in High-A in 2018 and 2019. He really broke out offensively in 2019 when he got called up to Double-A, posting a .997 OPS with 9 home runs in 40 games for the Tulsa Drillers. His hit tool will determine how productive of a player he can be in the major leagues, but he will be able to provide value in other ways given the versatility he provides on the defensive side. Wong looks to become the second player from the Mookie Betts trade, along with Alex Verdugo, to provide great value to the big league club. 

First Base: Triston Casas, Portland Sea Dogs 

The top overall prospect in the system begins 2021 in Double-A despite just seven career at-bats in Salem. The 21-year old will get a chance to display his power in Portland, as he belted 20 home runs, 26 doubles, and five triples in 2019 between Greenville and Salem. Casas was one of the best hitters at the Alternate Site in 2020 despite being just 20 years old and one of the youngest players at the site. He has a chance to become an all-star at the MLB level due to his plus-plus raw power

Second Base: Nick Yorke, Salem Red Sox

Yorke was a surprise of a pick by Boston in the first round in 2020. However, the Sox loved his ability to hit and consistently square up baseballs. The 19-year old second baseman has already shown flashes of his advanced feel at the plate, as he impressed at the Alternate Site in 2020. He also singled in his first spring training at-bat against MLB reliever A.J. Minter. Yorke comes from a very athletic family and went to the same high school as former Sox draft pick Aaron Bates as well as current Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger. He has just average raw power and below-average speed, so the development of his hit tool will be something to monitor moving forward. 

Shortstop: Jeter Downs, Worcester Red Sox

Downs makes his second straight SoxProspects.com pre-season all-star team. Still just 22 years old, Downs, like Wong, will look to join Verdugo in helping lessen the pain of trading Mookie Betts. He is coming off a very impressive showing this spring, as he posted a 1.020 OPS with four walks and two home runs in just 18 plate appearances in Fort Myers. The second-ranked Sox prospect will get his first taste of Triple-A in 2021 after posting some very nice numbers with 24 home runs, 24 steals, and an .888 OPS in 2019 between High-A and Double-A. 

Third Base
: Hudson Potts, Portland Sea Dogs (IL)
The power-hitting Potts was acquired by Boston last summer for Mitch Moreland. The 22-year old third baseman reached Double-A at just 19 years old in 2018 in the Padres organization and spent all of 2019 at the level.  He hit just .227, but showed off his power with 16 home runs and 23 doubles in 107 games. He has not played in a while due to an oblique strain, as our own Chris Hatfield reported back in March. He is currently on the injured list. 

Outfield: Jarren Duran, Worcester Red Sox
Duran also makes his second straight appearance as a pre-season all-star. The left-hand hitting speedster has added power to his game with a change to his stance, lowering his hands. That power showed up in a big way this spring, as the third-overall Sox prospect hit .340 and slugged .702 in 24 games in Florida this past March. He hit six doubles, a triple, and three home runs. This is noteworthy, as he hit just one long ball in 82 games with Portland in 2019. The 24-year old starts in Worcester this year and will likely make his MLB debut at some point in 2021.


: Gilberto Jimenez, Salem Red Sox
Jimenez also appears here for the second straight year, as he was coming off a monster 2019 season in Lowell. He has hit at both levels he has played at so far, hitting .319 as a 17-year old in 67 games with the DSL Sox in 2018, and .359 in 59 games with Lowell two years ago. The young switch-hitter has legitimate 80 speed, which he has already displayed in 2021, beating out a routine ground ball to second base in Salem's opener. He posted a .375 OBP this spring for the Sox, drawing three walks and roping a pair of doubles in 16 plate appearances. He also swiped two bags as well. He has a very high ceiling and will be fun to watch develop in 2021.

Outfield: Miguel Bleis, DSL Red Sox
The third outfielder on our pre-season all-star team is brand new to the organization. Bleis signed as an international free agent for $1.5 million four months ago. In case you wanted to feel old, Bleis was born eight months before the 2004 Red Sox broke the curse. He is a big kid, standing at 6-foot-3 with a large frame with plenty of projection. He has plus speed and above-average power potential, utilizing a short, compact stroke. 

Photo Credit: Connor Wong, Triston Casas, Jeter Downs, and Jarren Duran by Kelly O'Connor