Red Sox made progress in their goal of rebuilding their farm system
One of the main reasons Chaim Bloom was brought in as the Chief Baseball Officer of the Boston Red Sox following the 2019 season was to rebuild the organization’s farm system. In order to build the championship winning team of 2018, Boston had to part with many promising young players from the team’s system such as Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Manuel Margot, and Logan Allen in exchange for established talent such as Craig Kimbrel and Chris Sale. This led to the Red Sox going from having one of the best farm systems when Dombrowski took over in 2015 to one of the worst when he left in 2019.
Red Sox owner John Henry knew his team would not be able to have sustainable success unless they had a strong farm system and so Bloom was brought in to rebuild it. He made progress in his first season with the Red Sox, acquiring Jeter Downs and Connor Wong in the Mookie Betts trade and flipping some rental players at the deadline for prospects. Still, entering the 2021 season the Red Sox farm system ranked 20th out of 30 MLB teams.
However, they would make tremendous progress during this season in improving their minor league system. The most obvious being the selection of shortstop Marcelo Mayer in the 2021 MLB amateur draft. As a result of the disastrous 2020 season, the Red Sox received the fourth pick in the draft. Mayer, being the consensus top talent in the draft class, was not expected to fall to the Red Sox at No. 4 and was anticipated by many to be the first pick in the draft. However, after the Pirates threw everyone for a loop by selecting catcher Henry Davis with the No. 1 overall pick, the path opened for the Red Sox to take Mayer.
Mayer brings with him comparisons to big league short stops Corey Seager and Brandon Crawford and is now listed by many reputable sites as one of the Red Sox’s top prospects and one of the top prospects in all of baseball.
But the Sox improvement in their farm system was not all due to Mayer. Jarren Darren, who just two years ago was seen as a measly singles hitter, changed his swing during the downtime due to the pandemic to add some power to his game. While we certainly saw signs of this new added power during the club’s minor league workouts in Pawtucket last season, it was this season where we could finally see the results of this swing change in actual games.
The results were stunning. Through the first two months of the minor league season, Duran belted 15 home runs in 159 at-bats, earning him a call up to the big league club on July 16. While Duran would struggle at the big league level slashing .215/.241/.336, he is still held in high regard in the organization and across the baseball and was ranked the 37th prospect prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America in their end of season rankings after being left off the list entirely prior to the season.
The most surprising development in the Red Sox farm system this season has been the emergence of Nick Yorke. When the Red Sox selected Yorke with the 17th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, many people, including those who cover the farm system for a living, did not know who he was. Many suspected that the Sox had simply drafted Yorke at 17, knowing that he would sign for under slot so that they would have the extra cash to draft and eventually sign Blaze Jordan who fell to the 3rd round because of signability issues. This may have been the case at the time, but since then Yorke has become one of the top prospects in the Red Sox system, far ahead of Jordan.
Since joining the Red Sox organization, Yorke has slashed an impressive .325/.412/.516 and has hit 14 home runs in 442 plate appearances. Like Duran, he has also significantly climbed up Baseball America’s top 100 list. He was also left off the list prior to the season, but was ranked 64th by the end of the season.
As mentioned already, the Red Sox prior to the 2021 season were ranked as having the 20th best farm system in baseball by Baseball America. Due to the drafting of Mayer and the improvement of Duran, Yorke and many others in the farm system, including their top prospect Triston Casas who was ranked the 15th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America, the Red Sox jumped up 11 spots in BA’s August rankings to the 9th best farm system in all of baseball.