2023 is an important year for Boston Red Sox prospect Niko Kavadas

CHAPEL HILL, NC - MARCH 08: Niko Kavadas #12 of the University of Notre Dame waits for a pitch during a game between Notre Dame and North Carolina at Boshamer Stadium on March 08, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NC - MARCH 08: Niko Kavadas #12 of the University of Notre Dame waits for a pitch during a game between Notre Dame and North Carolina at Boshamer Stadium on March 08, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /
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2023 might be the most important year in the career of Boston Red Sox prospect Niko Kavadas

In 2022 we all got to witness the meteoric rise of Boston Red Sox prospect Niko Kavadas. Starting the year with the Low-A Salem Red Sox (with just seven games at the level before the season), the first baseman saw two promotions before the end of the campaign.

After 59 games in Low-A in 2022, Kavadas was slashing .286/.453/.609 with 18 doubles, one triple, and 14 home runs. This led to the left-handed hitter’s first promotion, to High-A (Greenville Drive).

It was an even quicker stop at this level. This time around, Kavadas needed just 37 games to earn his next bump. Boasting a .308/.472/.592 slash line with four doubles and 10 home runs in that short period will certainly do the trick.

This meant Kavadas got 24 games in Double-A with the Portland Sea Dogs before the season ended. And while he didn’t put up great numbers there (.222/.370/.333 slash line), it was just impressive that he made it that far in one year. The first baseman was working against Low-A pitching not even two months prior. It’s easy to see why he would need some time adjusting.

Overall, Kavadas finished with some pretty eye-popping numbers. The lefty slashed .280/.443/.547 with 25 doubles, one triple, and 26 home runs between the three levels. He drove in 86 runs, scored 71 more, and stole one base. The most impressive stat though was the walk total. Kavadas drew 102 of them on the season. It was a combination of pitchers being terrified of him, and Kavadas constantly working counts.

Despite the insane numbers, we didn’t see Kavadas fly up boards. Yes, he moved up in the rankings, but there wasn’t much national attention. He’s not even close to the top 100 prospects list. In fact, coming in at number 20 for the Red Sox, he’s not even all that high up in the organization (to be fair Boston has a stacked system).

There are a few reasons for that. Kavadas is very much a “bat” prospect. He could hold a high OBP, hit homers, and drive in runs. Outside of that, he’s not going to give you much in the way of speed or defense. That limits him quite a bit in the rankings.

There’s a bigger reason, though. Everyone already had a strong feeling the Notre Dame product wouldn’t have an issue with lower-level pitching. The questions came when talking about how he would handle pitchers at the higher levels of the minor leagues.

That’s why 2023 is the most important year of his career to this point. Kavadas has proven he can in fact terrorize pitchers in the lower levels. This upcoming season we will see him start in Double-A, where he’s gotten a bit of a head start.

We saw something that hopefully Kavadas picked up on in his 24 games in Portland. Pitchers are much less erratic. In Low-A and High-A, it was easier for Kavadas to take his walks because pitchers just weren’t hitting the zone as much. He was allowed to be insanely patient and wait for his pitch.

In Double-A, Kavadas kept running into the issue of being too patient. This led to the strikeouts ramping up as he was putting himself in a lot of two-strike counts instead of pouncing on a pitch he probably could’ve done damage with.

So how will he adjust? Will we see Kavadas find his home run swing in Portland? Can he get those walks back up while keeping the strikeouts at a decent rate?

He could fail to capitalize off a strong 2022, slide down the rankings a bit and out of the minds of Boston fans. Or he could tap into the talent he’s shown and answer the question of “can he hit at higher levels” with a loud “yes” that sounds eerily like a ball getting launched 430 feet off his bat.

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