Things kick off on Tuesday.
Tuesday is a big day in the baseball world, as minor-league seasons for all four full-season levels get under way. This is an even bigger deal than usual, of course, because these will be the first minor-league games since the end of the 2019 season. For those of us who love following this stuff, it’s been a very long wait and it will be a very welcome return. Of course, there are a few changes in the structure with MLB messing with the minors and removing the non-complex short-season leagues. For the Red Sox, that means no Lowell Spinners. They also have changes in Triple-A, moving from Pawtucket to Worcester, and Greenville has swapped places with Salem to be the High-A squad.
Got all that? You’ll have all season to get used to it, and I can assure you we will make mistakes on these all year because, well, we’re creatures of habit and said habit is being broken.
Anyway, I bring all this up because today starts the new year for the minor-league schedule, with all full-season leagues kicking off. Over the weekend and into yesterday the rosters were revealed for all of the Red Sox affiliates getting back into action today. We covered most of them in our team previews last week, but there are a few notable names for each we should mention briefly.
Worcester Red Sox (Triple-A)
The Worcester roster is about what we would have expected, with a good mix of top prospects (Jeter Downs and Jarren Duran), mid-level names (Connor Wong, Jonathan Araúz) and veterans with big league experience waiting in the wings. The big note for this roster is that Connor Seabold is not there to start the year. He’s dealing with some inflammation in his shoulder, but things don’t appear to be too serious. We should also note that while Danny Santana is on the roster, he’s going to start his season in Greenville on a rehab assignment.
Portland Sea Dogs (Double-A)
There’s not a whole lot different here either, but there is a big headliner with Triston Casas heading to Double-A. He’s the number one prospect in the system and should spend most, if not all, of the season in Portland. It’s also interesting that there are only two listed outfielders on the roster. I’d expect to see some Pedro Castellanos in left field and perhaps some of those other infielders getting time there as well. It had seemed like Marcus Wilson could start the year in that outfield, but he’s being assigned to Worcester instead.
Greenville Drive (High-A)
As I said above, Santana will start his year here though I wouldn’t expect that to be the case for too long. The big surprise to me on this roster is that Gilberto Jimenez is not there, instead starting the year in Salem. Given how much people rave about his work ethic and makeup I figured he’d be pushed aggressively to High-A. I don’t hate the decision to start him off in Salem, but I’d expect him to be a quick promotion if he gets off to a hot start. It’s also funny to note for players like Brandon Howlett, they are getting a promotion from their last experience in 2019 but remaining in the same town.
Salem Red Sox (Low-A)
This is going to be a somewhat surprisingly fun level to watch as there were some differences in the preseason predictions that benefit this roster. An infield with Nick Yorke and Matthew Lugo along with Jimenez and Nick Decker in the outfield makes this a really fun lineup to keep tabs on for the coming summer. And while the pitching staff doesn’t have any top tier prospects in the system, there are a handful of breakout candidates to watch in this group.