Tomase: List of Red Sox in BA’s top 100 prospects has one asterisk originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Baseball America just released its 2023 list of the top 100 prospects, and five Red Sox made the list, though I’d put an asterisk next to one of them.
Shortstop Marcelo Mayer leads the way, coming in at 10th overall. He’s followed by first baseman Triston Casas (No. 29), super utilityman Ceddanne Rafaela (No. 71), left fielder Masataka Yoshida (No. 87), and center fielder Miguel Bleis (No. 88).
That’s a solid haul for a Red Sox farm system that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and owner Tom Werner recently championed as the key to the future. BA notes that Mayer could be the next great infielder produced by the Red Sox (though he remains far away from the big leagues), and describes Casas as equally polished a pure hitter as he is a slugger. He will open spring training as the team’s starting first baseman.
The magazine loves Rafaela’s versatility — he’s a plus defender both at shortstop and in center field — and labels Bleis one of the breakout candidates of the season after the 18-year-old dominated the complex leagues. Rafaela should arrive in Boston this summer, while Bleis needs considerably more seasoning.
That brings us to the asterisk. While it’s true that Yoshida has never appeared in the big leagues, it’s hard to call a 29-year-old with seven years of professional experience in Japan a prospect, especially after he just signed a $90 million contract in free agency.
Barring disaster, Yoshida will never spend a day in the minor leagues, but BA has always considered Japanese players prospects for the purposes of its rankings, which is how Shohei Ohtani landed at No. 2 in 2018, which in retrospect sounds low. (At least No. 1 went to All-Star Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Braves).
This year’s top spot belongs to Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson, who actually debuted in Baltimore last year. He’s joined in the top 15 by right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (No. 6) and shortstop Jackson Holliday (No. 15), the first overall pick in last year’s draft, giving the Orioles a considerable high-end presence on BA’s list.