Red Sox 40-man roster additions who could make MLB debut in 2021

FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 15: Connor Wong of the Boston Red Sox looks on during a team workout on February 15, 2020 at JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 15: Connor Wong of the Boston Red Sox looks on during a team workout on February 15, 2020 at JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Red Sox prospects who could make their MLB debut next season.

The Boston Red Sox added seven players to their 40-man roster on Friday but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are all on the verge of their major league debuts.

The primary reason for these additions was to protect them from being eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft. The Red Sox have scattered them across various minor league levels with some on the doorstep to the majors and others potentially years away from making an impact in Boston.

One of the more likely candidates to make their MLB debut next season is one who was a bit of a surprise roster addition. Eduard Bazardo isn’t ranked as prominently on any prospect list as the other six players who joined the roster but he’s been generating some buzz following an impressive showing in the Fall Instructional League program.

Bazardo’s fastball velocity has increased since we last saw him at at Double-A Portland, sitting between 93-97 mph. He pairs it with a knee-buckling curve with an elite spin rate, giving him two plus pitches in his arsenal. The right-hander dominated when he was moved to the bullpen in 2019, posting a 2.78 ERA and 9.7 K/9 in 32 1/3 innings.

If that success translates to Triple-A, Bazardo is only a phone call away from a promotion to the big leagues for a Red Sox club desperate for a bullpen upgrade. He doesn’t possess the upside of the top prospects in this farm system but Bazardo has the clearest path to the majors in the short term.

The other roster addition who was assigned to Triple-A is catcher Connor Wong. The 24-year-old impressed with the Double-A affiliate for the Dodgers in 2019, hitting .349 with a .997 OPS in 40 games.

There are still some questions about Wong’s ability to stick at the catcher position and he could use some more polishing in the minors but his bat appears major league ready. The depth at the position is fairly thin in the Red Sox organization so an injury could pave the way for Wong’s promotion. Otherwise, his timeline might depend on if backup catcher Kevin Plawecki’s breakout season proves to be the real deal or a flash in the pan.

Wong has shown the versatility to play any position on the field throughout his minor league and collegiate career. If he’s swinging a hot bat in Triple-A, Boston might find a spot for him even if they don’t need him to catch.

Bryan Mata is the top-rated pitching prospect in the Red Sox system. His upside it tantalizing but he shouldn’t be rushed to the majors no matter how much Boston needs pitching. Mata struggled when he was promoted to Double-A last year and that’s where he’s expected to begin next season.

If he dominates that level the way he did in High-A Salem, Mata could quickly move up the minor league ladder. If he makes the leap to Boston then it probably won’t be until the second half of the season. By that point, Mata could be approaching his career-high of 105 innings pitched. It might make sense to move him to the bullpen late in the season to limit his workload, which could put him in line for a September call-up to get his feet wet in the majors.

Connor Seabold is on a similar path that will start him in Double-A next season, although he’s more likely to stick in the rotation with two seasons of 125+ innings already under his belt. He might be on the radar as a potential spot starter this season if he pitches well in the minors.

Hudson Potts will also begin the year in Portland. He has appealing power potential but he’ll need to start making more contact in order to move up in the system. Boston already has a crowded infield and with no clear path to playing time at third base, Potts is a long shot to reach the majors next season.

Jeisson Rosario came over with Potts from San Diego in the Mitch Moreland trade last summer but he won’t be joining him in Portland. Rosario is expected to begin the year in High-A Salem. He’s a more natural hitter than Potts and has the athleticism to stick in center field. Rosario isn’t ready for the majors though. Regardless of how the Red Sox address the hole in center field this offseason, Jarren Duran remains ahead of Rosario in the outfield prospect pecking order.

The prospect on this list with arguably the highest upside is Jay Groome but the former No. 12 overall pick has seen his career derailed by injury. His 2018 campaign was wiped out by Tommy John surgery and he tossed only four innings when he returned the following year.

Groome has a long road ahead of him so we won’t see him in Boston next season but he could shoot up the prospect rankings if he gets back on track with his health woes behind him.

Next. Free-agents who can get Red Sox back to contention. dark

The Red Sox won’t be relying heavily on any of these prospects anytime soon but we could get a glimpse of at least a couple of these players in 2021.