Sox No. 22 prospect Abreu heating up for Triple-A

May 14th, 2023

BOSTON -- The Christian Vázquez trade to the Astros -- wildly unpopular when it was made on Aug. 1, 2022 -- is looking better for the Red Sox with each passing week.

First, you have Enmanuel Valdez -- Boston’s No. 17 prospect as rated by MLB Pipeline -- emerging as a key bat at the Major League level at a time the Red Sox have been depleted by injuries in the middle infield.

It gets even better when you look at what the team's No. 22 prospect, Wilyer Abreu -- the other player acquired in that trade -- is doing at Triple-A Worcester.

In his first 98 at-bats of the season, the left-handed-hitting outfielder has a line of .296/.398/.490 with four doubles, five homers and 18 RBIs.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was enjoying watching Abreu play in Spring Training until the 23-year-old injured his left hamstring on March 5.

“Too bad he got hurt in Spring Training, but there was a reason Abreu, [Ceddanne] Rafaela and [Valdez] were playing in Spring Training,” Cora said. “I wanted to see it. We were able to give him a lot of at-bats, a lot of repetitions, and then when something happens [with the Major League depth], you feel comfortable [calling them up].

Both [Abreu and Valdez], they control the strike zone. Abreu’s on-base is up there, his slugging is up there, and he’s a great defender, too. Good athlete.”

Much like two current players on the Red Sox -- Masataka Yoshida and Triston Casas -- Abreu is gifted with plus plate discipline.

“He has a really good eye at the plate -- almost to the point where he can be too passive -- so balancing that with looking to do damage in the heart of the plate on balls he connects with is something he’s focused on,” Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said. “Good bat speed and overall understanding of who he is as a hitter and who he wants to be.”

After striking out 153 times last season, Abreu is trying to improve his contact rate.

“His bat-to-ball skills is an area of focus for him this year. Some of it last year was adjusting to a new organization, new staff. That can be a lot to deal with both mentally and physically. We wanted to see the player he was before we started trying to make too many adjustments,” Abraham said. ”The best part is his openness and willingness to adjust mechanically or approach-wise to be a better overall hitter. He wants to be challenged. He’s really embraced our hitting group and what they can provide him on the day to say and longer term scale.”

While Valdez is clearly a player who leads with his bat, Abreu is a strong all-around player.

“Strong, athletic and sturdy -- moves incredibly well with range and quickness in the outfield with an above-average arm,” Abraham said. “He can play all 3 outfield spots.”

Double-A Portland: Webb shining for Sea Dogs
There wasn’t a lot of hype when the Red Sox drafted Jacob Webb with their 14th-round selection in the 2021 Draft. But the righty has emerged into a weapon in the bullpen for Portland this season.

In 10 appearances, he has a 3.06 ERA and 1.13 WHIP while holding opponents to a .169 average. Webb was a starting pitcher for two years at Sinclair Community College before converting to the bullpen in his two seasons at Miami of Ohio. Webb leads with his fastball and slider.

High-A Greenville: Mayer is mashing; promotion soon?
The way top Red Sox prospect Marcelo Mayer is dominating, it might not be long before he is promoted to Double-A. MLB’s No. 5 prospect recently completed a 14-for-26 stretch that included six doubles and three homers. For the season, he has a .959 OPS.

Single-A Salem: Rogers thriving in first full season
The Red Sox are seeing some encouraging early results from lefty starter Dalton Rogers, who was drafted in in the third round of the 2022 Draft out of Southern Mississippi. In five starts this season, Rogers has a 2.55 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .125 against him. The key for Rogers is to continue to refine his secondary pitches, including his breaking ball.