Boston's "Big Three" prospects blazing a path toward Fenway

March 20th, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Speaking to MLB Network as part of the 30 Clubs in 15 Days series, top Red Sox prospect Marcelo Mayer addressed his relationship with outfielder Roman Anthony and Kyle Teel -- a clear Big Three working toward reaching a city that knows a thing or two about impressive trios.

“I consider them probably my best friends right now,” Mayer said.

And then he proved it, revealing that his previously long locks had been trimmed into a buzzcut by Anthony the night before.

The trim may not have been by design, but the camaraderie certainly has been. The Sox grouped Mayer, Anthony and Teel -- prominent picks from the 2021, 2022 and 2023 Drafts respectively -- consistently during the offseason, whether it be in workouts, the Rookie Development Program or even on stage at Winter Weekend in Springfield.

“There are certain players that we really try hard to get in those places together,” said Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham. “Whether it be providing food or housing, we’ll do everything that we can under the umbrella of Major League Baseball to support these guys and let them feel comfortable away from home together. … I think really a selling point is saying, hey, Kyle, Roman, Nick Yorke, Miguel Bleis, all of our players, you're going to be working together, competing against each other, supporting each other. So let's get better together.”

The best part about this particular Big Three is that, if all goes according to plan, they won’t block each other’s paths to Fenway Park.

Mayer is a 21-year-old shortstop with the potential to show above-average hit, power and fielding tools, and after struggling with left shoulder issues in 2023, he’s healthy again this spring. Anthony, an outfielder, might have the sweetest swing in the system, one that helped him climb three levels with a .272/.403/.466 line and 14 homers in 106 games in his first full season. Last year’s first-rounder Teel is a gifted defensive catcher with a cannon arm who already has a .363 average over 26 games.

All three ended last season at Double-A Portland, where their relationship first started, and they’ve continued to push each other into 2024.

“I think if you watch our training environments down here in Spring Training or in Portland last year, they're competing. They're trying to see who can hit the ball harder, who can run faster, who can have a better at-bat throughout the game. It's not only wanting to be a good player or a great player; it's wanting to be the best Boston Red Sox player.”

That’s an important development for a Boston organization that has endured three basement finishes in the AL East over the last four years. Without significant investment in the big-league club over the offseason, the Red Sox might be ready to rely more than ever in recent memory on homegrown talent to push them back toward the postseason.

Ceddanne Rafaela’s powerful spring, coming off his 2023 debut, has already given a glimpse of what could be coming, and Mayer, Anthony and Teel -- three players ranked among MLB Pipeline’s Top 40 overall -- might not be far behind. Their example of success could have a cascading effect.

“When you have the top players training hard, competing, failing and then making the adjustments to improve,” Abraham said, “it allows for the rest of the 180 players to do the same and say, ‘I want to be like Marcelo. I want to be like Roman.’”

Breakout candidate: Miguel Bleis

There was hope that 2023 would be the Dominican outfielder’s breakout party. Signed for $1.5 million in January 2021, Bleis headed to a full-season affiliate for the first time but batted just .230 with a .607 OPS and 71 wRC+ over 31 games for Single-A Salem before surgery to address a subluxated left shoulder ended his season in May.

The 20-year-old is back to playing this spring, and the Red Sox are encouraged that he used the downtime caused by the injury to add overall strength and good weight rather than languishing away from the diamond.

“You can look at rehab in two ways,” Abraham said. “You can be frustrated and upset that you’re injured. Or you can take it as an opportunity to get stronger, an opportunity to improve mentally and physically and that’s what he did. You never want to say an injury is a good thing, but he is at a different place physically than he was last year.”

That’s a promising sign for a player who already earned plus grades for his power and speed and above-average notes for his arm and glovework in center field. A healthy and productive Bleis could be a Top 100 candidate this summer.

Something new: Nick Yorke

Upper-level players tend to be aware of Major League moves that could affect their immediate paths to the bigs. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be a shock that Boston’s No. 8 prospect – a second baseman by trade – approached the organization about getting some time in the outfield once Boston acquired 23-year-old Vaughn Grissom from the Braves for Chris Sale in December.

Taken 17th overall in 2020, Yorke remains a bat-first prospect after slashing .268/.350/.435 with 13 homers in 110 games for Double-A Portland last season. As an above-average Eastern League performer with a 116 wRC+, the 21-year-old got a long run as a non-roster invite to Boston’s Major League camp and worked out some in the outfield corners but only played the keystone in games. After being reassigned to Minor League camp on Monday, he could get more looks in a corner outfield spot on the backfields with an eye on a 2024 debut.

“It’s the player’s development, it’s the player’s career so you want to be able to support them and put them in the best position to have success,” Abraham said. “Obviously, we see him as a second baseman, but I think to be able to play outfield or get some live reads out there during Spring Training, this is the perfect opportunity to be able to do that. Another tool in the toolbelt is always a valuable thing.”

2023 Draft sleeper: Kristian Campbell

The Red Sox received the 132nd overall pick in the 2023 Draft as compensation for losing Xander Bogaerts to free agency, and they used the pick on Campbell, a Draft-eligible sophomore out of Georgia Tech. Primarily playing at second base, Campbell hit .376/.484/.549 with four homers and a 17/29 K/BB ratio in 45 games with the Yellow Jackets, showing elite contact skills and plus speed. After signing Campbell for full slot at $492,700, the Sox pushed him to High-A Greenville in his first taste of the Minors and saw him post a .400 OBP there as well.

One of the biggest questions about Campbell’s overall profile though concerned his defensive play on the dirt, and in his first spring, the Red Sox have decided to spread him around to all three outfield spots in his first full season.

“We really can see him in center field,” Abraham said. “He has speed and is another guy who could be a five-tool player that can impact the baseball and do things on both sides of the ball.”