The Red Sox farm system has drastically improved this year
One of Chaim Bloom’s highest priorities when he was hired as chief baseball officer of the Boston Red Sox was restocking a farm system that was left barren by his predecessor. It’s safe to say he made tremendous progress this year.
MLB Pipeline revealed their list of the most improved farm systems in 2021, with the Red Sox landing at the top. The Red Sox entered the 2021 season viewed as one of the worst farm systems in baseball at No. 24 but they have since risen all the way to No. 12.
Leaping 12 spots places Boston ahead of the Texas Rangers, who jumped from 21 to 11 in the revised rankings. The Washington Nationals, Kansas City Royals, and Cincinnati Reds were also among the most improved this year.
The 2020 season was a disaster for the Red Sox as they slid to the bottom of their division and finished with the fourth-worst record in baseball. There were two silver linings to offset the misery though. The pandemic shortened the season to only 60 games, mitigating our suffering. A dismal record was also “rewarded” with the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft.
This was the highest the Red Sox have selected in the draft since 1967 and they used it wisely, selecting high school shortstop Marcelo Mayer. MLB Pipline ranked Mayer as their top prospect entering the draft and he surprisingly fell to Boston at No. 4 overall.
Mayer hasn’t played above Rookie ball but MLB Pipeline already has him rated as the best prospect in the Red Sox system at No. 9 overall.
Adding Mayer through the draft is the most significant factor vaulting the Red Sox farm system in these rankings but this year saw encouraging progress from several other prospects.
Triston Casas was already viewed as a future star and he only improved his stock with a strong season, hitting .279 with an .877 OPS, 14 home runs and 59 RBI in 86 games split between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester. Casas also put on an impressive performance for Team USA in the Olympics to further enhance his stock. He’s now rated as the No. 18 overall prospect in baseball and could make his major league debut in 2022.
Nick Yorke had arguably the best season of any Red Sox prospect, hitting .325/.412/.516 with 14 home runs, 62 RBI and 13 steals in 97 games split between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville. Many were skeptical when the Red Sox reached for Yorke in the first round of the 2020 draft but nobody is questioning the decision now. The second baseman is quickly rising through the Red Sox system and in the prospect rankings.
Boston’s farm system is top-heavy with bats and short on arms. Their pitching depth took a step back when Bryan Mata underwent Tommy John surgery, wiping out his 2021 season.
While a setback for a top pitching prospect would normally be damaging to a club’s ranking, the temporary loss of Mata was partially offset by the emergence of Brayan Bello. The right-hander went 7-3 with a 3.87 ERA and 12.5 K/9 in 21 starts split between Greenville and Portland. He’s now the top pitching prospect in the organization and could be knocking on the door to the big leagues in the near future.
Jarren Duran failed to impress in his brief taste of major league action but he remains a highly-touted prospect after hitting .258 with an .873 OPS, 16 home runs and stealing 16 bases in 60 games in Triple-A. The speedy outfielder will get another crack at the big leagues next season and might even make the Opening Day roster with a strong spring performance.
The Red Sox have a good mix of prospects in close proximity to the majors and elite talent at their lower levels. This sets them up for a steady stream of impact players emerging from their farm system over the next five years.