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October 27, 2021 at 11:43 AM

Scouting Scratch: Breaking down the Arizona Fall League contingent


The Arizona Fall League is back after a one-year hiatus in 2020, and the Red Sox have an extremely strong contingent playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions this autumn, led by SoxProspects.com’s number one prospect, Triston Casas. The group is comprised of five* hitters and four pitchers, and eight of the nine prospects are ranked in the #SP60, including five in the top 20. Here are some thoughts on each Red Sox prospect heading to Arizona and what I will be looking for from each.

(* - Connor Wong has been with the Major League club on the taxi squad. He will likely now report
 following Boston’s elimination.)

The top prospect in our rankings, Triston Casas was an easy choice to send to the AFL given how much time he missed due to his participation in the Olympics. He was gone from May 24 to June 8 for qualifying and then again from July 16 to August 11 for the Games themselves, and during those roughly six weeks, he got just 38 at-bats for Team USA as the silver medal-winning squad’s starting first baseman. The experience Casas got on a huge stage helps make up for the missed time, but the AFL is an obvious chance to make up for those lost at-bats. For the minor league season, he ended up playing 86 games and got 371 plate appearances with Portland and Worcester, hitting .279/.394/.484 with 14 home runs and a 19.1% strikeout rate and 15.4% walk rate. The AFL should be great experience for Casas, as he will face quality, high-minors pitching, with some big names including 2020 first-round picks Asa Lacy, Bobby Miller, and Slade Cecconi.

Shortstop Jeter Downs (#SP60 no. 5) had a rough season in Worcester, but he heads to Arizona looking to build on a strong end to the season. Entering the last three weeks of the season, Downs was hitting .174/.259/.293 with 33.1% strikeout rate and 9.7% walk rate, but he closed strong by hitting .316/.372/.579 in his final 43 plate appearances. Despite his struggles, Downs did hit 14 home runs, steal 18 bases and played much improved defense at shortstop, where he was more agile than I expected and showed plenty of arm. He will never be a plus shortstop, but I think he could get to at least average and maybe above-average if he maintains his athleticism. The focus in Arizona for Downs will be at the plate. During the regular season, he looked tentative and had a lot of trouble on fastballs. He seemed to lose confidence at the plate as the year went on and was really pressing, swinging through fastballs and expanding the zone on secondary pitches once he was down in the count. His ability to handle velocity up in the zone is definitely a question mark. Something I will be keeping an open ear for is how his approach looks, as that was still on the raw side in Worcester. Downs still has the ability to develop into an everyday player, but he comes with more risk now than he did heading into the season. A strong AFL will go a long way to returning his prospect stock closer to where it was heading into 2021. 
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at 10:00 AM

Fall/Winter League Roundup: Downs has power surge


Now that the minor league season has been completed, the fall and winter league campaigns have begun. The first to get rolling is the Arizona Fall League, which is approaching its third week after Opening Day on October 13. The Red Sox sent four arms and five bats to Arizona, though Connor Wong has yet to debut as he was on the taxi squad for the major league club during its postseason run. The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League had its Opening Day on Saturday, while the Mexican Pacific League started earlier in October. The Dominican Professional Baseball League got underway this week, as well.

Follow along each week with more updates as the remaining winter leagues start their seasons in the coming weeks and months, and follow along daily on our Fall and Winter Leagues page.

Arizona Fall League

Jeter Downs (pictured) has continued his hot streak to end the regular season at Triple-A out West, slashing .333/.515/.958 across 24 at-bats, adding nine walks. His 1.473 OPS and 13 RBIs are each second in the league, while his five home runs leads the Arizona Fall League. He isn't the only one hitting well in the early going, as Triston Casas has started off strongly, hitting .294/.351/.441 over his 34 at-bats, though he has struck out 12 times. Kole Cottam, who has slashed .211/.333/.263 over 19 at-bats, as well as Christian Koss (.143/.250/.143), have earned part-time roles as well.

Connor Seabold has led Scottsdale on the mound, pacing the squad with 9 1/3 innings pitched. However, despite a .222 batting average against, he has pitched to a 5.79 ERA across his three appearances this fall. Despite a similar .240 batting average against, AJ Politi has been better at run prevention, with a 1.35 ERA over 6 2/3 innings. Josh Winckowski (9.53 ERA) and Brendan Cellucci (14.40 ERA) have also each made appearances for Scottsdale.

Venezuelan Professional Baseball League

Early on, Pedro Castellanos has appeared in three games for Lara, hitting 2 for 10 with a home run. On the mound, Oddanier Mosqueda has pitched 2/3 of an inning. He surrendered a hit and a walk, but struck out two hitters in his lone appearance, which came on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Jeter Downs by Kelly O'Connor
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October 21, 2021 at 11:29 AM

Podcast Ep. #231: The redemption of Jeter Downs?


The Red Sox dropped game 5 of the ALCS minutes before Chris and Ian got on the line, but it's not all doom and gloom on this episode. As the Red Sox head to Houston for the end of the series, where do things stand? Chris and Ian broke down what has and has not worked thus far for Boston. Meanwhile, the Arizona Fall League is making its triumphant return after a one-year layoff, and while Triston Casas has two home runs in the season's first week, he's not the biggest Red Sox story from Scottsdale. Is Jeter Downs' hot start for real? What does it mean going forward? The guys discussed, and added some quick rankings update thoughts to close.
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October 13, 2021 at 10:15 PM

Podcast Ep. #230: On to the ALCS


Nice and simple: The Red Sox are moving on to the ALCS. Chris and Ian break down the ALDS win over the Rays, preview the ALCS against the Astros, and leave it up to you to determine if Chris made it weird with his Dancing on My Own reference.
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October 8, 2021 at 10:00 AM

Brandon Walter: 2021 SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Year


Friday makes the final day of SoxProspects.com Awards week, as we announce the 2021 Player and Pitcher of the Year. 

Pitcher of the Year

On May 5th, the Salem Red Sox called on an unheralded 24-year-old lefty to pitch the final two innings of an opening day doubleheader necessitated by rain. Brandon Walter allowed two hits in three innings but struck out five of the 10 batters he faced. Two days later, Walter again pitched two scoreless while striking out half the batters he faced, but he did not appear in game action again for 10 days. The University of Delaware product, a 26th-round pick in the 2019 draft, finished the season's first month with five appearances and a solid 3.00 ERA, similar to the several college arms picked up by the organization in the last two years who made up the Salem bullpen. 
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at 8:00 AM

Nick Yorke: 2021 SoxProspects.com Player of the Year


This week is SoxProspects.com award week, with several accolades being handed out over the last few days. We have announced the All-Star pitchers, All-Star position players, Homegrown Player, Ex-Prospect, and Graduate of the Year, and the Rookie, Breakout, and Comeback Player of the Year. Now it is time to name the winner of the top award given out by SoxProspets.com each year, the Player of the Year.

Player of the Year

Nick Yorke was a bit of a surprise when he was announced as the Red Sox first pick in the shortened 2020 MLB draft with the 17th overall pick out of Archbishop Mitty HS (CA). It was an odd year with many seasons cut short and a truncated scouting process that had many outlets listing Yorke as a likely second-round pick. Despite his youth and inexperience, the second baseman was assigned to the Alternative Training Site last year, and even though he received glowing reports, Red Sox fans would have to wait until 2021 to get their first look at him in real game action.
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October 7, 2021 at 11:04 PM

Podcast Ep. #229: A Wild Start


It's playoff time and the Red Sox have one win in the books! Chris and Ian recapped the Wild Card Game win over the Yankees and preview the ALDS against the Rays (including a discussion of the potential roster that will likely sound hilarious in hindsight - we'll address that next week...).  Back in the minors, we finally know the Red Sox delegation to the Arizona Fall League, which included a few surprises in addition to the system's top prospect, Triston Casas. We wrapped with a spirited discussion of the SoxProspects.com All-Stars and award winners for the 2021 season and, of course, your emails!
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at 12:00 PM

2021 SoxProspects.com Awards: Rookie, Breakout, and Comeback players of the year


SoxProspects.com
award season rolls on, after All-Star hitters and pitchers were released on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, followed by the Homegrown Player, Ex-Prospect, and Graduate of the Year on Wednesday. Thursday's awards focus on the Rookie, Breakout, and Comeback players of the year.

Rookie of the Year
Nick Yorke (pictured, left) was an easy choice for this award, as the 2020 first-round pick had a tremendous first season as a professional. The 19-year-old hit .325/.412/.516 over 97 games between Low-A and High-A, and he is now a consensus top-100 prospect in baseball. The 2021 Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year, Yorke will likely return to Greenville in 2022, but a promotion to Portland will be in the cards if he hits anything like he did this year. Marcelo Mayer was solid in his debut as well, hitting .275/.377/.440, but that was not enough to catch Yorke. 
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October 6, 2021 at 11:00 AM

2021 SoxProspects.com Awards: Graduate, Homegrown and Ex-Prospect


We continue our SoxProspects.com Awards season with the 2021 Graduate of the Year, Homegrown Player of the Year, and the Ex-Prospect of the Year. The graduate and homegrown player of the year each played big roles in getting Boston to the postseason, while the ex-prospect had a career year on the opposite side of the country.

Follow along with us all week: 
Wednesday: Graduate of the Year; Homegrown Player of the Year; Ex-Prospect of the Year
Thursday: Rookie of the Year; Breakout Player of the Year; Comeback Player of the Year
Friday: Player of the Year; Pitcher of the Year
 
Graduate of the Year: Tanner Houck
Though he wore out the Mass Pike headed back and forth between Worcester and Boston, Tanner Houck (pictured, left) was one of the crucial arms for the Red Sox on their way to a Wild Card berth. The Missouri product followed up a tremendous 2020 debut with 87 strikeouts in just 69 innings pitched across 18 outings, 13 of which were starts. Houck was fifth among Boston pitchers in bWAR, at 1.6, and allowed an OPS of just .608.
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October 5, 2021 at 2:00 PM

2021 SoxProspects.com All-Stars: Pitchers


We continue our SoxProspects.com Awards season with the 2021 All-Star pitching staff. This years list includes a former first-round pick, an out-of-nowhere 2019 draftee, and a 22-year-old righty who was an early-season sensation.

Follow along with us all week: 
Tuesday: All-Star pitchers
Wednesday: Graduate of the Year; Homegrown Player of the Year; Ex-Prospect of the Year
Thursday: Rookie of the Year; Breakout Player of the Year; Comeback Player of the Year
Friday: Player of the Year; Pitcher of the Year

Starting Pitcher: Brayan Bello
Coming out of the lost 2020 season, there were pitchers all over baseball who had seen notable improvement in their stuff, and Bello was someone who got a lot of attention in early 2021. He was a sensation on his way to getting the May SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Month as he struck out 30 batters and posted a .192 opposing batting average. He finished the season with a 3.87 ERA, 132 strikeouts, and only 31 walks in 95 1/3 innings split between Salem and Portland. He was noted by Baseball America as one of the 10 players who most raised their stock in 2021 and at #6 is the top-ranked pitcher in the system.
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October 4, 2021 at 1:00 PM

2021 SoxProspects.com All-Stars: Position Players


With the minor league season in the books, we have reached the SoxProspects.com Awards season. Over the next five days, we will be presenting our annual awards on the news page. The schedule will be as follows:

Monday: All-Star position players
Tuesday: All-Star pitchers
Wednesday: Graduate of the Year; Homegrown Player of the Year; Ex-Prospect of the Year
Thursday: Rookie of the Year; Breakout Player of the Year; Comeback Player of the Year
Friday: Player of the Year; Pitcher of the Year

We kick things off with the position players selected by the SoxProspects.com staff for their All-Star performances in 2021. While we do consider factors such as age advancement and opponent quality, these awards are in recognition of the players' in-game performances rather than a commentary on any status as a prospect. However, the Red Sox also got notable production from its most highly rated prospects, as the first, third, and fourth-ranked prospects were all unanimous selections by the staff. 

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Catcher: Kole Cottam
It was the second all-star appearance for Cottam as well as the second time he was honored in a year he was promoted out of Greenville. The former Kentucky Wildcat was an on-base machine with the Drive, now Boston's High-A affiliate, hitting .276/.386/.487 over 46 games. He forced the issue of a promotion by going 16 for 40 (.400) with eight extra-base hits in his final 12 games before getting the call to Portland. He did not miss a beat with the Sea Dogs, posting a .282/.337/.526 line in 25 contests. He is currently ranked 59th in the system. 
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at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Seabold gets the win in the season finale


10/4 Cup of Coffee: While all eyes were on the major league game, the WooSox closed out the minor league season with a win over the IronPigs. On behalf of the entire SoxProspects.com Staff, thank you for following the minor league season with us. It was great to get back into the swing after a lost season in 2020. 

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Nick Pivetta came through as Boston's closer on Sunday, and the other half of the Brandon Workman/Heath Hembree trade earned the win in Worcester's finale. Connor Seabold allowed just one run over five innings, walking two without recording a strikeout. The bullpen was dominant from there, with Kyle Hart, Zack KellyStephen Gonsalves, and John Schreiber combining to allow just one baserunner over the final four innings. 
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October 3, 2021 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: DSL season ends, Gossett nearly throws no-hitter


10/3 Cup of Coffee
: The minor league season is rapidly coming to a close. After most of the affiliates closed out their seasons a couple of weeks prior, the Dominican Summer League had its final contests today, while the Triple-A "Final Stretch" closes out on Sunday. Worcester had a strong finish to its win over Lehigh Valley, with Daniel Gossett (pictured) carrying a no-hitter into the ninth inning after he set down the first 10 batters of the game in order. DSL Blue exploded for 13 runs, though they had plenty of help from their intra-organizational counterparts, with each team generating just six hits each.

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It was scoreless through five, but Worcester scored in three of its final four at-bats to take the win on the penultimate day of its season. The offense was led by Franchy Cordero, who was 3 for 5 with four RBI, including a three-run home run in the ninth to put an exclamation point on the game. Jonathan Arauz, who also had a multi-hit outing, delivered an RBI single in the sixth. It was also a great evening for Daniel Gossett, who nearly had a complete game shutout. Instead, he settled for 8 1/3 one-hit innings, striking out seven along the way. He had a perfect game into the fourth inning and held onto his no-hitter through eight full frames of work. 

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October 2, 2021 at 12:37 PM

Podcast Ep. #228: The Final Stretch


The Red Sox are fighting for their playoff lives. The Triple-A and DSL affiliates are in their final week. Fewer teams, but still plenty to discuss. Chris and Ian weigh in on the Red Sox wild card hopes, Jeter Downs' late-season resurgence, and the first set of players seemingly confirmed for Fall camp. Then your emails led to an extended discussion of the rules changes tested in the minor leagues this year, and more!
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at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Winckowski shines for WooSox; DSL squads sweep


10/2 Cup of Coffee
: Baseball's regular season is headed into its final weekend as the calendar turned to October, and all of Boston's affiliates that remain in action came away with victories. Worcester had its third straight one-run victory in its series against Lehigh Valley. Both teams in the Dominican Summer League won their contests, with the Red Sox Blue in the driver's seat for a division title heading into Saturday's season finale. 

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A masterful effort by Josh Winckowski (pictured) and a four-run fourth-inning rally led the WooSox to their third straight win. Winckowski, making his second start since being promoted at the end of the Double-A season, allowed just one run on two hits across six innings, striking out seven, and walking three. Franchy Cordero delivered the key hit, a bases-clearing double as part of the decisive fourth-inning rally. Cordero added a pair of walks on the day as part of his 1-for-3 effort. A Josh Ockimey double and Jarren Duran triple accounted for the rest of Worcester's extra-base hits. Colten Brewer went the final two innings for his first save of the year.
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October 1, 2021 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Wong, Matheny lead WooSox to wild win


10/1 Cup of Coffee: The WooSox survived a wild one in the Lehigh Valley, 10-9. The offense was on fire with 16 hits, nine of them for extra bases. They were led by Tate Matheny, Triston Casas, Connor Wong (pictured), and Jonathan Arauz. Both DSL teams lost but had a few solid offensive and pitching performances. 

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Tate Matheny led the way from the bottom of the lineup, going 3 for 3 with a double, two walks, two RBI, and three runs scored. Triston Casas also roped a pair of double and knocked in a run. Jonathan Arauz also doubled twice and added a single in five trips to the plate. Connor Wong went 3 for 5 with his 13th double and eight long ball of the year. Jeter Down added two hits, a double, and three RBI, while Franchy Cordero picked up a single and a double. 
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