'I'm just having a blast': Red Sox's No. 2 prospect drills HRs in both legs of DH

April 14th, 2024

When Roman Anthony earned a promotion to Double-A Portland last year as a 19-year-old, it was the first time he realized that everyone around him was much older, bigger, stronger than him.

With that in mind, the second-ranked Red Sox prospect made it a mission over the offseason to bulk up to make an even bigger impact in his return to the Eastern League. The SeaDogs are only a week into the 2024 campaign, but Anthony is already striking the ball with more authority than ever.

Across a pair of wins in Saturday's doubleheader against Reading at FirstEnergy Stadium, he slugged his first two homers of the season, reached base four times and swiped a bag.

With the strong all-around showing, the Florida native raised his slash line to .333/.385/.708. All while being the second-youngest player in the Eastern League -- Baltimore's Samuel Basallo is three months younger -- and nearly four years younger than the average player on the circuit.

Of course, Anthony isn't your average teenager. He's played in big league Spring Training games and ranks as MLB's No. 22 overall prospect. And now that he's filled out his frame by putting on 20 pounds to reach 220 over the winter, he fits in much more easily with the Double-A crowd.

"Now that I've had that experience and had an offseason to work and put some size on and get stronger, I feel like at whatever level I'm at … just that feeling of knowing that I belong and can hang with this type of competition," Anthony said. "It just goes back to the fact that I put a lot of work in the offseason and stick to my approach and stick to the way I play the game. I think that kind of takes away the age aspect of everything."

Anthony had been hitting the ball well and playing heads-up baseball to start the season, even without a big fly. Case in point: to lead off the first game, he blooped a ball into center that he was sure would be an out -- but he sprinted hard and narrowly made it to second for a double once it landed between three fielders. Then, when he got a middle-middle changeup he could crush in the top of the third, he left no doubt on a solo homer to center field.

A little over two hours later, he punished a first-pitch fastball to lead off the second game with an opposite-field homer. While technically this isn't his first professional multihomer game, it's his first day with multiple roundtrippers -- all in the span of four plate appearances.

"Just being aggressive early in that leadoff spot," Anthony said. "I just stuck to my approach that I've always had -- using all fields and just trying to do damage right there on a pitch up. Regardless of what pitch it is -- fastball, offspeed -- the goal remains the same for me. Just trying to get my swing off early, regardless of what level. As you go up, the pitchers just get better and get more around the zone. I feel like I benefit from it and just getting a pitch up early and getting my swing off, good things will happen."

Anthony is picking up where he left off last year after slashing .343/.477/.543 in 10 games to end the season with Portland. In fact, he's produced more at each level he's played at.

Anthony produced loud contact at Single-A Salem, but the home stadium's pitcher-friendly confines limited him to a .228/.376/.317 line. From there, he delivered on the promise Boston saw when they selected him in the second round of the 2022 Draft and ran a .981 OPS with High-A Greenville before earning one last promotion to Double-A. All of that progress -- and production -- earned him the organization's Minor League Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Anthony's offensive outburst to start the season has involved him reaching base in all six games, after having also done so in all 10 games with the SeaDogs to end 2023. In four of those games -- including both on Saturday -- he's reached base multiple times.

"I've gotten more and more comfortable as I've gone up, and I'm just having a blast. Having a lot of fun playing," Anthony said. "Obviously that helps a ton."