Jeter Downs promoted, is Brayan Bello next?

Red Sox prospect update: Who’s next to be promoted? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston:

The future of the Boston Red Sox is in good hands with several exciting prospects in the pipeline. Some are already making an impact at the big-league level.

Jarren Duran has carved out a role as a leadoff hitter since being called back up to Boston earlier this month. He looks far more comfortable at the plate this time around, slashing .303 / .378 / .485 through nine games (33 at-bats). The question now is whether the speedy outfielder is part of the Red Sox ‘long-term plans, or if he’s being showcased for a potential trade deadline deal. We lean slightly towards the latter.

Ranking the top 10 potential Red Sox trade deadline targets:

Pitching prospects Josh Winckowski and Kutter Crawford also have gotten a taste of the major leagues this season. Winckowski, MLB Pipeline’s No. 14 ranked prospect in the organization, is coming off a solid start vs. the Detroit Tigers in which he allowed only two runs in 6 2/3 innings of work. The soon-to-be 24-year-old has settled in after a rocky MLB debut and appears capable of contributing down the stretch.

Crawford, ranked No. 24 in the farm system, has shown flashes of potential but needs more time in the minors. The 26-year-old right-hander pitched five scoreless innings and allowed only one hit after being called up to start against Seattle on June 12, but he struggled mightily in his following appearance vs. St. Louis on on Saturday.

So, who will be next to make their presence felt in The Show? Which prospects are lighting it up in the minors? Here’s an update on some of the top prospects in the organization along with their future outlook.

Marcelo Mayer living up to the hype:

Prospect Ranking: No. 1:

MLB ETA: 2024:

Outlook: Potential cornerstone franchise.

Mayer is thriving in his first full professional season. The 19-year-old looks as advertised – he’s been compared to Texas Rangers star Corey Seager and San Francisco Giants veteran Brandon Crawford – both at the plate and at shortstop.

Through 33 games with Low-A Salem, Mayer is slashing .279 / .363 / .485 with four homers, 23 RBI and eight stolen bases. We won’t see him at Fenway Park any time soon, but it won’t be a surprise to see him quickly shoot up to Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester. He’s showing why he was projected almost unanimously to be the No. 1 overall pick in last year MLB Draft.

Triston Casas’ promotion put on hold:

Prospect Ranking: No. 2:

MLB ETA: Late 2022 / Early 2023:

Outlook: Potential cornerstone franchise:

Not long ago it seemed like a matter of when, not if, Casas would earn a call up to the big-league roster this season. Those plans may have to be put on hold until next year.

Casas hasn’t played since May 17 due to an ankle injury and there still is no timetable for the slugging first baseman’s return. Prior to the injury, he was batting .248 with a .359 on-base percentage, .457 slugging percentage, six homers and 22 RBI in 36 games for Triple-A Worcester. The Red Sox will likely play it safe with their prized prospect once he’s healthy, so we should not expect them to rush him to the majors unless they’re truly desperate at the first base position.

Growing pains for Nick Yorke:

Prospect Ranking: No. 3:

MLB ETA: 2024:

Outlook: Future everyday big-leaguer.

Yorke hasn’t been able to duplicate a sensational 2021 season in which he was named Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year. He’s hitting just .239 with four homers through 36 games at High-A Greenville. The 20-year-old second baseman has dealt with nagging injuries this month as he missed time due to turf toe and back stiffness.

Brayan Bello making case for a call-up:

Prospect Ranking: No. 4:

MLB ETA: Late 2022 / Early 2023:

Outlook: Future MLB starter.

Will Brayan Bello be the next pitching prospect to make an appearance for the big-league club? He’s making a compelling case. The 23-year-old righty hasn’t missed a beat since being promoted to Triple-A, posting a sparkling 1.60 ERA and 0.83 WHIP through six starts. He also tossed a no-hitter earlier in the year with Double-A Portland. If he continues this pace, it’s hard to imagine him sticking in the minors for much longer.

Jeter Downs making big-league debut:

Prospect Ranking: No. 5:

Outlook: Utility infielder / fringe starter.

Downs already looks like a big-league shortstop defensively, but his bat has left plenty to be desired in Worcester. The 23-year-old, who was acquired as part of the 2020 Mookie Betts trade, has hit .180 with a .297 on-base and .397 slugging percentage through 53 games this season with the WooSox. He’ll make his major league debut Wednesday night vs. Detroit but will likely be sent back down to Triple-A once Christian Arroyo and / or Kik√© Hernandez returns from the injured list.

It would not be a surprise to see Downs used as trade bait this summer, though its value has taken a nosedive over the last couple of seasons.

Blaze Jordan heating up in Salem:

Prospect Ranking: No. 6:

MLB ETA: 2025:

Outlook: Power-hitting first baseman / DH.

Blaze Jordan was drafted for his raw power, which was on full display when he won the 2019 MLB High School Home Run Derby. That pop so far has translated to the minor leagues as he’s notched six homers and 19 doubles in 58 games this year at Low-A Salem. Only 19 years old, Jordan has plenty of time to develop into a true professional hitter.

Bryan Mata working way back from Tommy John:

Prospect Ranking: No. 7:

MLB ETA: 2023/2024:

Outlook: Future MLB starter.

Mata made his first appearance earlier this month after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2021. The 23-year-old right-hander has allowed only one earned run in nine innings while striking out 15 and walking seven in three rehab starts, one with Low -A Salem and two with High-A Greenville. He appears to be back at full strength as he reached 100 mph in his most recent start.

Brandon Walter getting a taste of Triple-A:

Prospect Ranking: No. 8:

MLB ETA: 2023:

Outlook: Future MLB starter / reliever.

Walter made a name for himself last season with a spectacular stint in Salem. The 25-year-old southpaw followed that up by posting a 2.88 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in nine appearances this year. Those results earned him a promotion to Triple-A Worcester, where he’s allowed seven runs in 7.2 innings across two starts. A tough adjustment so far, but Walter is a breakout prospect to keep tabs on going forward.

Chris Murphy continues to impress:

Prospect Ranking: No. 11:

MLB ETA: 2023/2024:

Outlook: Future MLB starter / reliever.

Murphy marks yet another reason to be optimistic about the pitchers in Boston’s pipeline. The 24-year-old left-hander has looked sharp with Portland, posting a 2.80 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 14 appearances (12 starts). He dominates left-handed hitters but struggles against righties, something he’ll need to clean up before reaching the next level.

Jay Groome finding his groove:

Prospect Ranking: No. 11:

MLB ETA: 2023/2024:

Outlook: Future MLB starter / reliever.

It’s been a long, winding road for Jay Groome as the 2016 first-round draft pick has gone through several injury setbacks, including Tommy John surgery in 2018. He’s starting to show flashes of why Boston invested in him with its 12th overall pick. The southpaw tossed seven scoreless innings in his most recent start with Portland, lowering his ERA to 3.61 and his WHIP to 1.25. The stuff is there, now it’s just a matter of finding consistency.

Connor Seabold dominating for WooSox:

Prospect Ranking: No. 14:

Outlook: Future MLB starter.

MLB ETA: 2022:

If Bello isn’t the next pitching prospect to get the call up to the majors, it’ll likely be Seabold. Acquired as the key part of the Nick Pivetta deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, Seabold has been outstanding this season in Worcester. The 26-year-old righty has a 1.95 ERA and 0.97 WHIP through 10 starts. He struggled in his big-league debut last year, but do not be surprised if he gets another shot very soon.

Ceddanne Rafaela a name to remember:

Prospect Ranking: No. 27:

MLB ETA: 2024:

Outlook: Future utility player.

Rafaela has been considered an intriguing prospect due to his speed and defensive prowess, but it’s his bat that has turned heads this season with Double-A Portland. The 21-year-old – who’s undersized at 5-foot-8, 145 pounds – has been the breakout star of Boston’s farm system with 13 homers and 48 RBI through 58 games between Greenville and Portland. He’s slashing .324 / .361 / .616 with 15 stolen bases. There’s bound to be regression at the plate, but Rafaela’s defensive ability to play almost anywhere on the diamond at a high level bodes well for his future in the pros. Now is a great time to hop on the Ceddanne Rafaela hype train.

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