The Boston Red Sox Have a Newfound Core To Build Around

The Red Sox have struggled for the past few seasons, but for the first time in a long time, a vision for their future is starting to come into focus.

Tanner Houck of the Boston Red Sox pitches during live batting practice during a spring training team workout on February 21, 2024 at jetBlue Park at Fenway South.
FT. MYERS, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 21: Tanner Houck #89 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during live batting practice during a spring training team workout on February 21, 2024 at jetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

The Boston Red Sox are far from a perfect team, and they will likely miss the playoffs once again this year. However, unlike in years past, there is a new level of hope around the organization as young players – both on the active roster and in the upper minors – continue to step into their own and outperform expectations.

The Offense

Triston Casas

The beginning of this “new wave” of talent began last year with the emergence of Triston Casas, who finished third in Rookie of the Year voting and proved that his unique combination of power and plate discipline could help anchor the Red Sox offense for years to come.

Casas picked up right where he left off in 2024, hitting six home runs over his first 22 games before a rib injury sidelined him in late April.

While he will miss significant time this season due to the injury, the eccentric first baseman is still just 24 years old and has not yet entered the prime of his career.

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Jarren Duran

Like Casas, Jarren Duran broke out last year and led the league in doubles for a significant portion of the season. If he had not suffered an injury, he had a legitimate chance to finish as the top doubles-man in baseball.

Durran had an up-and-down career until last season. He was highly regarded as a prospect but struggled in his first partial seasons in the majors, to the point where many fans and pundits had given up on him.

While the pressure and criticism may have broken other players, Duran responded incredibly well. In just 102 games last season, he hit .295 with 44 extra-base hits, 34 of which were doubles. He also stole 24 bases, getting caught only twice. Duran has followed up his breakout with an equally impressive 2024, as he has scored 32 runs, driven in 23, and currently leads all of baseball with eight triples. 

Even more importantly, Duran’s defense has taken a massive step forward. He has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can handle a challenging Fenway outfield; he ranks seventh amongst outfielders in OAA and sits in the top 5% in all of baseball in defensive run value (per Baseball Savant).

His range ranks in the top 5%, and he has a slightly above-average arm as well. What may have seemed like a far-fetched thought merely two seasons ago has become a fact: Jarren Duran deserves to be a part of this Red Sox core for a long time.

Wilyer Abreu

One of Duran’s outfield mates, Wilyer Abreu, has had a breakout season this year as well, outperforming expectations and playing his way into the hearts of Red Sox Nation. He is in the top 20% in baseball in batting run value, fielding run value, and baserunning run value (per Savant). His bat speed, barrel percentage, and hard hit percentage are all in the top 20%, while his walk rate ranks among the top 30% of hitters.

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The 24-year-old has already accumulated nearly 2.0 FanGraphs WAR this season, showing his bat can play at the big league level. The right fielder is hitting .283, with 22 RBIs and 25 runs scored.

His .870 OPS has launched him into the Rookie of the Year conversation, as he currently sits with the fourth-best odds to win the award. While he was largely viewed as a stop-gap player before the season, Abreu has shown not just that he can be an everyday player, but that he deserves to be a part of this new young core.

Connor Wong

Connor Wong has blossomed into an everyday catcher, who contributes both behind the plate and in the batter’s box. The last remaining player that the Red Sox received for Mookie Betts, Wong is hitting an incredible .324 with an .835 OPS. He is also an elite baserunner, with excellent sprint speed for a backstop and a baserunning run value in the top 8% in baseball.

Defensively, Wong’s pop time puts him among the top quarter of catchers and has helped him outperform his expected caught-stealing percentage.

The Arms

On the mound, Tanner Houck has shown that he, too, should be in Boston for a long, long time. He leads the American League with a 2.13 FIP and ranks first in all of baseball with 0.13 HR/9. His 1.90 ERA has not only put him in the conversation to be an All-Star but to start the All-Star Game.

Houck’s overall pitching run value and, more specifically, his breaking ball run value both rank among the top 2% in baseball, with his slider having been one of the most dominant pitches in the sport this season.

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Kutter Crawford (under contract through 2028) and Rule 5 pick Justin Slaten (under contract through 2029) are two more arms who have stood out in Boston this year. Crawford, 28, ranks among the top 20 qualified pitchers in ERA and FIP, while Slaten, 26, has been one of the most durable and productive relievers in the AL.

The Prospects

The young players listed above are just the beginning of a massive wave of young talent entering the Red Sox organization.

While the likes of Casas, Duran, Abreu, Wong, and Houck are all outstanding baseball players, a strong case could be made that the three players Red Sox fans should be most excited about are still in Double-A. Shortstop Marcelo Mayer and outfielder Roman Anthony are both among the top 30 prospects in baseball, while catcher Kyle Teel is not far behind.

The organization has heralded these three youngsters as saviors of the franchise, along with their teammate, infielder Nick Yorke. All four are expected to make their MLB debuts at some point in 2025, if not sooner. The belief is that this influx of talent will complement the current young core, helping the Red Sox enter into their next window of championship contention.