The Boston Globe

How the prospects are looking at Sox affiliates

- By Alex Speier GLOBE STAFF Alex Speier can be reached at Follow him @alexspeier.

While the Red Sox’ season is already underway, the minor leagues will kick off in earnest this week. Triple A Worcester’s season has started, while the other three full-season affiliates open this weekend.

As has been the case for some time, the system is defined foremost by a head-turning core of position players — particular­ly the triumvirat­e of Marcelo Mayer, Roman Anthony, and Kyle Teel in Double A Portland. Though the three of them have never played an official regular-season game together, it became common to see them together throughout spring training — an unspoken recognitio­n of the role they’re hoping to fill in the Red Sox’ future.

“We’re definitely aware of not trying to put too much pressure on them,” said farm director Brian Abraham, “but I also think they want the pressure. They see themselves as really good players and players that can improve and be better.

“You can kind of shy away from it and say, ‘We’re going to keep these guys behind closed doors and we’ll kind of ease into it.’ Or you can say, ‘This is what it’s going to be like eventually. Are you going to be able to handle it? And if you are, let’s go get it.’ ”

The pitching, of course, is less heralded, though as is the case in the big leagues, the Sox are hopeful that the overhaul of their infrastruc­ture will allow for potential starters such as Wikelman Gonzalez, Luis Perales, Richard Fitts, and David Sandlin to take steps forward and provide some balance.

As the Sox try to help their young pitchers, they’re going to make some changes to the structure of their work. Perhaps most notable: From Double A down, the organizati­on will employ sixman rotations with multi-innings relievers behind them. With minor league affiliates having virtually all Mondays off, the once-a-week starting schedule will permit structured routines for goal-oriented side work.

Here is a level-by-level look at the four full-season affiliates to start the season.

Triple A Worcester

Key prospects: RHP Richard Fitts (ranked the No. 11 Red Sox prospect by Baseball America), INF Chase

Meidroth (No. 13), C Nathan Hickey (No. 15), IF/OF David Hamilton (No. 20).

With outfielder­s Ceddanne Rafaela and Wilyer Abreu opening the year in the big leagues, the WooSox lack the name recognitio­n of the other full-season affiliates but will, of course, have much more bearing on the actual record of the major league team.

Fitts, acquired from the Yankees in the Alex Verdugo trade, may have the biggest upside among WooSox prospects if he can demonstrat­e that he belongs in a big league rotation. Fitts showed velocity gains during the offseason and spring training, where he topped out at 98 miles per hour. Some evaluators see his slider as a quality big league pitch. He’ll need a more consistent changeup to be a starter.

Double A Portland

Key prospects: SS Marcelo Mayer (No. 1), CF Roman Anthony (No. 2), C Kyle Teel (No. 3), RHP Wikelman Gonzalez (No. 7), 2B/LF Nick Yorke (No. 8), 1B Blaze Jordan (No. 21).

Mayer, Anthony, and Teel are all top 100 prospects, and are already central figures in the Red Sox’ aspiration­s to have a contention-sustaining core for years to come. All three showed up this spring having added significan­t strength and were hitting the ball harder than ever.

Mayer is working to make better swing decisions and cut down on his swing-and-miss rate. Anthony is working to identify opportunit­ies where he can be more aggressive and tap into his power (while also needing to get more experience against lefties). Teel, who was drafted last July, has to learn to balance offensive and defensive developmen­t.

Gonzalez, who gets tons of swings and misses in the zone but is inconsiste­nt in his ability to work in it, could become a top 100 prospect if he throws more strikes. Yorke, who is adding outfield work to his résumé, is being challenged to excel offensivel­y in order to force his way up the ladder.

High A Greenville

Key prospects: RHP Luis Perales (No. 9), OF Allan Castro (No. 17), RHP Yordanny Monegro (No. 18), OF Kristian Campbell (unranked), RHP David Sandlin (unranked).

Perales has perhaps the most electric fastball of any pitcher in the system, a pitch so good it can make it hard for him to throw anything else. “It’s his binky,” joked Abraham. If he can round out an arsenal that now includes a cutter, he could take a step forward.

On the back fields at Fenway South, Campbell was creating considerab­le buzz. A line-drive-oriented hitter in college, he spent most of the offseason training in Fort Myers, and emerged hitting the ball tremendous­ly hard with high contact rates and an improved ability to lift the ball. There’s a lot of effort in his swing, but he’s surprising­ly selective. After a college career in the infield, he’ll mostly play center field in 2024, and is a potential fast riser in the system.

“I think with the swing-decision ability that he already naturally has on top of the ability to impact the baseball, we’re looking at a guy could be really, really impactful and continue to get better,” said Abraham.

Sandlin, acquired from the Royals for John Schreiber, likely will slot in the teens in Sox system rankings. He touched 100 m.p.h. in offseason workouts.

Single A Salem

Key prospects: OF Miguel Bleis (No. 5), IF Nazzan Zanetello (No. 12), C Johanfran Garcia (No. 14), 3B Antonio Anderson (No. 22).

Though he missed most of last year following left shoulder surgery, Bleis, who already is viewed as a five-tool player with head-turning bat speed, went to work during his rehab, sculpting his body and adding good weight to go from a lanky 170-pound frame to a player who looks like he could be a force at just over 200.

He was explosive on the field in spring training, and has a chance to reassert himself as an electrifyi­ng talent.

Zanetello, a second-round pick out of high school in 2023, likewise showed impressive strength and bat speed in spring training, with some elite exit velocities.

Though he’ll open the year on the injured list with a minor hamstring issue, he should be active soon.


Middle infielder Mikey Romero (No. 16), after being delayed in spring training by a personal matter, will open the year in Greenville once he’s ready for games.

Infielder Yoeilin Cespedes (No. 10) had a minor quad issue and will begin the year in extended spring training, but the 18-year-old has special offensive potential and may force his way to Salem.

 ?? FILE/ALEX SPEIER/GLOBE STAFF ?? (From left) Luis Guerrero (from left), Nick Yorke, and Marcelo Mayer might be stars of the future for the Sox.
FILE/ALEX SPEIER/GLOBE STAFF (From left) Luis Guerrero (from left), Nick Yorke, and Marcelo Mayer might be stars of the future for the Sox.

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