In three years, the Red Sox have dropped from a franchise-record 108 victories and a World Series title to 84 wins and then a .400 winning percentage that represented their worst since 1965. Chaim Bloom's first full year as the franchise's chief baseball officer started with trading superstar Mookie Betts to the Dodgers and ended with watching him lead Los Angeles to a championship.
The last time that Boston finished in last place in 2015, it had an emerging homegrown core led by Betts as well as baseball's best farm system, which provided the talent for three straight division titles and a World Series ring in the next three years. The Red Sox aren't poised for a quick turnaround this time.
Though corner infielder Bobby Dalbec and right-hander Tanner Houck impressed in late-season callups, most of their best prospects are another year or two away from making an impact in the big leagues. That's especially true in terms of pitchers and right-hander Bryan Mata, their top mound prospect, was diagnosed with a small ligament tear in his elbow as Spring Training began.
Boston fell out of contention so quickly in 2020 that it became a full-fledged seller. Seven of their Top 30 Prospects have been acquired in the trades since the start of last year, including middle infielder Jeter Downs and catcher Connor Wong in the Betts deal, right-hander Connor Seabold from the Phillies as part of a package for Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree and catcher Ronaldo Hernández from the Rays as part of a swap for spare parts Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs. On the one-year anniversary of trading Betts, the Red Sox made a deal that once would have seemed unfathomable, sending former first-round pick and postseason hero Andrew Benintendi to the Royals for Franchy Cordero, middling righty pitching prospect Josh Wincowski and three players to be named (one from the Mets).
Here's a look at the Red Sox's top prospects:
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2020 preseason list to the 2021 preseason list.
Jump: Aldo Ramirez, RHP (2020: 27 | 2021: 20) -- He already had some of the best control in the system and used the pandemic downtime to get stronger, which led to improved stuff in instructional league.
Fall: Antoni Flores, SS (2020: 19 | 2021: NR) -- In 2018, one club told the Red Sox it considered Flores the best prospect in Boston's system, but the game sped up on him offensively and defensively afterward.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 55 -- Triston Casas (Brainer Bonaci, Jeter Downs, Jarren Duran, Gilberto Jimenez, Nick Yorke)
Power: 60 -- Bobby Dalbec (Triston Casas, Blaze Jordan)
Run: 70 -- Jarren Duran (Gilberto Jimenez)
Arm: 70 -- Brainer Bonaci (Bobby Dalbec, Ronaldo Hernández)
Defense: 60 -- Gilberto Jimenez
Fastball: 65 -- Bryan Mata
Curveball: 60 -- Jay Groome (Eduard Bazardo)
Slider: 60 -- Tanner Houck (Bryan Mata, Jacob Wallace, Thad Ward)
Changeup: 60 -- Connor Seabold
Control: 60 -- Connor Seabold (Aldo Ramirez)
How they were built
Draft: 14 | International: 8 | Trade: 7 | Rule 5: 1
Breakdown by ETA
2021: 10 | 2022: 10 | 2023: 6 | 2024: 4
Breakdown by position
C: 2 | 1B: 1 | 2B: 1 | 3B: 3 | SS: 4 | OF: 5 | RHP: 12 | LHP: 2