WORCESTER – The Red Sox’ minor league system began its season Friday and with it, roster decisions about several of the team’s top prospects have come to light.
Triple-A Worcester will feature several of the organization’s top pitching prospects, including a rotation with righthander Bryan Mata and lefties Brandon Walter and Chris Murphy. Bobby Dalbec, who was optioned at the end of spring training, will play all four infield positions and, in the coming weeks, get exposure at both corner outfield spots as the Red Sox try to cultivate his versatility to find more pathways for him to contribute in the big leagues.
Jarren Duran will primarily play center field, but he’ll also see time in left. Enmanuel Valdez and Wilyer Abreu – both acquired last summer in the trade that sent catcher Christian Vázquez to the Astros – are also with the WooSox to start the year, though Abreu is expected to miss roughly a week while recovering from the hamstring injury that sidelined him for much of spring training.
One notable prospect who is not in Triple-A to start the year: center fielder/shortstop Ceddanne Rafaela, the No. 3 prospect in the Sox system entering the year. The Sox want Rafaela to start the year in Double-A Portland, where he spent the final months of 2022. The team’s emphasis with Rafaela continues to be the refinement of his swing decisions, an undertaking in which they saw progress from him in spring training, but believe there are further gains to be made.
Rafaela will be joined in Portland by second baseman Nick Yorke, the team’s first-round draft selection in 2020. Yorke spent the final month of 2021 and all of 2022 in High-A Greenville (SC), where he excelled in ‘21 but struggled in ‘22. The Sox believed the success he had in the Arizona Fall League and his swing changes by the end of spring training positioned Yorke to compete against a higher level of competition.
Two other relatively unheralded pitchers who had standout springs will also open in Double-A Portland. Lefthander Shane Drohan, who showed a notable uptick in velocity, will start the season in the Sea Dogs rotation, as will righthanded reliever Luis Guerrero, a 22-year-old reliever who works in the high-90s to triple-digits and has been on a fast track since being taken by the Sox in the 17th round of the 2021 draft.
As expected, top prospect Marcelo Mayer will open the year in High-A Greenville, the same level at which he finished 2022. He’ll be joined by a talented infield that includes corner infielder Blaze Jordan, versatile infielder Eddinson Paulino, and catcher Nathan Hickey. Another middle infielder, Brainer Bonaci, will start the year in extended spring training after visa issues delayed his arrival in spring training. Bonaci is from Venezuela.
The team will also have one of its highest-ceiling pitching prospects, Wikelman Gonzalez, with the Drive to start the year.
One level below them at Low-A Salem (Va.), outfielder Miguel Bleis will headline a young group with a high ceiling that also includes 2022 high school draftees Cutter Coffey – who played his way this spring into a spot on a full-season roster – and Roman Anthony, as well as international signees Juan Chacon, 20, and 19-year-old Allen Castro.
Righthander Luis Perales, whose high-90s fastball may be the best in the system, will also start the year in the Salem rotation.
Middle infielder Mikey Romero, the Sox’ first-round pick in 2022, is expected to join that group in April, but the start of his season has been slowed by back stiffness that limited him in spring training.
Red Sox minor-league prospect assignments
Worcester Red Sox (AAA)
- RHP Bryan Mata
- LHP Brandon Walter
- LHP Chris Murphy
- IF Bobby Dalbec
- OF Jarren Duran
- UTIL Enmanuel Valdez
- UTIL Wilyer Abreu
Portland Sea Dogs (AA)
- CF/SS Ceddanne Rafaela
- 2B Nick Yorke
- LHP Shane Drohan
- RHP Luis Guerrero
Greenville Drive (High A)
- SS Marcelo Mayer
- INF Blaze Jordan
- INF Eddinson Paulino
- C Nathan Hickey
- P Wikelman Gonzalez
Salem Red Sox (Low A)
- OF Miguel Bleis
- INF Cutter Coffey
- OF Roman Anthony
- RF Juan Chacon
- RF Allen Castro
- RHP Luis Perales
Alex Speier can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.