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April 11, 2022 at 12:00 PM

2022 SoxProspects Pre-Season All-Stars Pt. 1 - Hitters


The 2022 minor league season is underway, and the SoxProspects.com community has chosen its annual slate of All-Stars. The class includes three 2021 draftees (two of whom were selected by Boston) and ranges in age from 18 to 27. Seven players are making their first appearance, while it is the fourth selection for four players. 

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Catcher: Nathan Hickey, Salem Red Sox
Boston's fifth-round pick last July, Hickey got a $1 million bonus to convince him to forgo his final three years of eligibility at the University of Florida. The bat-first backstop is noted for his advanced approach, and he hit an impressive .316/.436/.539 in 75 career games for the Gators. Hickey appeared in just 11 games after signing, going 6 for 28 with two doubles between the FCL squad and Salem. He is currently ranked 30th in the system.

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First Base: Triston Casas, Worcester Red Sox
It is the fourth consecutive appearance in this spot for Casas, and likely the last. Boston's first pick in the 2018 draft, the Bunyanesque first baseman has reigned as the top prospect in the system for nearly three full years, the longest stretch in the SoxProspects.com era. His career slash line of .265/.368/.479 is even more impressive when accounting for the fact that he has always been among the youngest players at his level. In 2021, Casas starred in the Tokyo Olympics and the Arizona Fall League to supplement his .279/.394/.484 performance in affiliated ball. The continued strong play puts him squarely on the path to the majors in 2022.

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Second Base: Nick Yorke, Greenville Drive
There will be no recount necessary for this choice: Yorke received 96.4% of the vote as the top second baseman over at the SoxProspects.com forum. The 17th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Yorke was a monster after a slow start to his pro career, winning the 2021 SoxProspects.com Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards. His .325/.412/.516 across two levels actually understates his season, as he hit .377/.469/.614 56 games from May 30 until his promotion in late August despite the always-challenging hitting conditions in Salem. He didn't miss a beat after advancing to Greenville, placing him third in the system's rankings and making him a consensus top-60 prospect in the game. 

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Third Baseman: Alex Binelas, Greenville Drive
Binelas joined the Red Sox organization just before the lockout in the trade that brought David Hamilton and former SoxProspects.com All-Star Jackie Bradley, Jr. from Milwaukee. Power is Binelas's game: the 2021 third-round pick had a .621 slugging percentage and 19 home runs in 230 plate appearances during his junior season at Louisville. He continued to mash as a pro, hitting .309/.390/.583 in 36 games split between the Brewers' Arizona Complex League team and Low-A Carolina. He starts the season ranked 21st in the system.

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Shortstop: Marcelo Mayer, Salem Red Sox
Mayer, considered by many the top player in the 2022 draft, fell into Boston's lap with the fourth overall pick. A prototypical shortstop with a sweet swing, a $6.64 million bonus brought the Eastlake (CA) High School product into the professional ranks. He had a solid debut, hitting .275/.377/.440 in the Florida Complex League in 18 games. He begins his first full pro season as a consensus top-20 prospect in the game, with many publications rating him ahead of Casas atop the system. 

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Outfield: Jarren Duran, Worcester Red Sox
A very difficult introduction to the majors last summer should not mask what has been a meteoric rise through the system for Duran. A slap-hitting second baseman when he was drafted out of Long Beach State in the seventh round of the 2018 draft, pro coaching encouraged Duran to tap into his natural power, allowing his career to take off. Following a 2019 breakout and a 2020 when he was the standout at the Alternate Training Site, Duran blasted two homers in the first-ever game at Worcester's new Polar Park. With a .270/.365/.561 line with 15 homers through 46 games, Duran got the call to the majors on July 14. He struggled to a .215/.241/.336 in 112 plate appearances before contracting COVID, but he rejoins the Worcester squad as he looks to put that difficult debut behind him. Like Casas, it is his fourth consecutive selection as a pre-season All-Star. 

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Outfield: Miguel Bleis, XST
Bleis received a $1.5 million deal as an international free agent, the largest bonus Boston has given out in any of the last four signing periods. The center fielder out of the Dominican Republic was a standout in Fort Myers, reinforcing his status as a potential five-tool contributor. In his 2021 debut, Bleis appeared in 36 games in the Dominican Summer League, hitting .252/.331/.420, adding six doubles, four homers, and seven stolen bases. Despite only turning 18 in March, this marks the second time Bleis has been selected as a pre-season All-Star. He currently is eighth in the system on the SoxProspects.com rankings.

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Outfield: Gilberto Jimenez, Greenville Drive
Likely the fastest player in the system, Jimenez has been a fixture on this list, joining Casas and Duran for a fourth consecutive year. Unlike most of this group, Jimenez is not necessarily coming off of a standout 2021 season. He hit a solid .306/.346/.405, striking out 86 times against just 19 walks in 408 plate appearances. Jimenez saw his prospect status rise quickly after getting just a $10,000 bonus in July 2017, and he is reaching a point in his development when he will be expected to turn his raw tools into more consistent production. The 21-year-old switch hitter is currently ranked 18th. 

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Utility: Ryan Fitzgerald, Worcester Red Sox
The most unlikely player on this list, Fitzgerald's consistent production since signing out of the independent leagues in 2018 now has him on the cusp of the major leagues. He hit .270/.350/.512 in 108 games between Portland and Worcester while playing every position except catcher and pitcher. Fitzgerald introduced himself to the unfamiliar by going 5 for 16 with four homers in Grapefruit League play. He starts the 2022 season ranked 24th in the system.



James Dunne is Managing Editor of SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesDunneSP.


Photo Credit: All by Kelly O'Connor