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SoxProspects News

October 7, 2021 at 12:00 PM

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

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. 

Breakout Player of the Year
Wilkelman Gonzalez entered the season as the system's 48th-ranked prospect but rose all the way to 14. Signed for $250,000 out of Venezuela in 2018, Gonzalez started to make some noise in the FCL shortly after his debut. Scouts identified him as the best pitcher on the team, and he quickly earned a promotion to Salem. In all over 12 starts, he pitched to a 2.91 ERA over 52 2/3 innings. He walked 16, struck out 66, and allowed just two home runs. With a fastball that is routinely 93-95 mph and a changeup and slider that both show potential, Gonzalez is one of the more exciting arms in the lower minors. 

Comeback Player of the Year
Every player could be considered a comeback player after the 2020 season was canceled, but Kutter Crawford (pictured, right) is the choice for this one. Crawford underwent Tommy John surgery in October of 2019, and then had another procedure to remove bone spurs from his elbow in the summer of 2020. He missed a couple starts early in the year, but was otherwise healthy. He struck out 131 over 94 2/3 minor league innings with Portland and Worcester, with a total ERA of 4.28. Crawford got into one game for the Red Sox while the team needed reinforcements, allowing five runs over two innings. His ability to miss bats could make him a key depth piece in 2022. 

Photo Credit: Nick Yorke and Kutter Crawford by Kelly O'Connor