The Boston Red Sox come into the 2023 season with hope — but not much else. The Red Sox finished in last place in the American League East a year ago as they lacked power, depth and were hit by a number of injuries to both pitchers and position players.
The offseason did not appear to be kind to the Red Sox either. While they have added ex-Dodgers Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen, among others, they failed to bring back All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts. The homegrown Boston star signed a long-term deal with the San Diego Padres, and that means Boston will scramble to replace him.
It looks like Kike Garcia will have the first crack at the job, but Garcia's big-league resume includes just 15 games at shortstop. The Red Sox have a potential star at the position in Marcelo Mayer, but it is not expected to be this season.
Here's a look at Mayer and two other key prospects for the Red Sox.
3. SS Marcelo Mayer
The 20-year-old Mayer played at two different minor league levels last season and gave a strong account of himself despite playing against older and more experienced players.
Mayer is the 9th-ranked prospect by MLB.com, and he has a chance to make the big-league team in 2024.
The 6-3, 188-pound Mayer hit .280/.399/.489 with 13 home runs and 17 steals last season, and that was a very encouraging season for the shortstop to build off of.
In addition to his solid left-handed stroke, Mayer looks like a potential star at the position. He does an excellent job of getting to the ball because of his instincts and range, and he displays a plus arm with a very strong throwing motion.
Many scouts believe that Mayer was both the best hitter and best defender in the 2021 Draft Class. His bat was compared to Corey Seager while his fielding was compared to Brandon Crawford. He was able to accomplish quite a bit last year even though he had a right wrist injury.
2. CF/SS Ceddanne Rafaela
Rafaela raised his profile quite a bit with an impressive performance in 2022.
He was drafted as an infielder but he has emerged as one of the better outfielders in the minor leagues. Rafaela displays excellent speed and the ability to go get it in the outfield because of his great instincts for the game.
The Red Sox are hoping he can build off the notable season that he had at the plate while splitting his time between High-A and Double-AA. He slashed .299/.342/.539 with 21 home runs and 28 stolen bases in 116 games split between High- and Double-A.
The power is somewhat shocking because Rafaela is tiny at 5-8 and 152 pounds. He could make his big-league debut some time in the 2023 season if he continues to progress.
1. 1B Triston Casas
Red Sox fans are familiar with Casas because he was brought up last year to get a taste of life in the big leagues.
Casas is a huge man at 6-4 and 252 pounds, and the Red Sox are hopeful he can go from prospect to productive big leaguer this season. He had 95 plate appearances last year, and he slashed .197/.358/.408 with 5 home runs.
The Red Sox are hoping that Casas will develop his power, produce runs and get on base quite a bit. He has a very disciplined approach at the plate and he rarely swings at pitches outside the strike zone. That's a big advantage for a 23-year-old player.
Boston clearly has an opening at 1st base, and management is hoping Casas can fill it and answer all questions. A good spring training should help his confidence immensely.