Red Sox 2024 spring training preview: Thoughts on the 31 hitters headed to camp

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Red Sox 2024 spring training preview: Thoughts on the 31 hitters headed to camp

After a long winter in many ways, spring training commences this week. Many familiar faces will be returning, but there are still plenty of newcomers to camp, so we figured it’d be a good idea to preview who’s who.

Here we’ll take a quick look at each hitter in big-league camp, including regulars and non-roster invitees, and on Tuesday we’ll break down the pitchers.

There are still question marks about how the lineup will look and who will emerge as the starting core in the outfield.

Meanwhile, as currently constructed the Boston Red Sox seem to be facing a power drought. Justin Turner recently signed with Toronto, Adam Duvall remains unsigned and the Red Sox haven’t replaced their bats in the lineup. Last year, a club that included both of those players ranked 18th in the league in homers and despite leading baseball with 339 doubles, still finished with an even 100 OPS+, the definition of league average.

There might be additions, but for now, here’s a brief look at the hitters the Red Sox will have in big-league camp this spring:

(An asterisk denotes a non-roster invitee to big-league camp. Listed ages are as of Opening Day.)

Catchers (7)

Connor Wong (27): Wong impressed last season, starting 105 games behind the plate while entering as a sub in an additional 21 games. He handled a heavy workload and proved durable and capable. He still can make strides at the position, but figures to be the starter again this year.

Reese McGuire (28): McGuire appeared in 72 games and missed time with an oblique strain. While he was fine as a backup, it’s possible his role could be challenged by other catchers in camp this spring.

Tyler Heineman (32): Heineman is a good defensive catcher the Red Sox recently acquired from the New York Mets for cash considerations. Unlike the other depth catchers added this winter, Heineman, who’s appeared in 104 big-league games while throwing out 27.9 percent of runners attempting to steal, is on the 40-man roster so it’s possible he could compete with McGuire for the backup role. He does have a minor-league option remaining, however, while McGuire does not.

Roberto Pérez* (35): The veteran catcher signed a minor-league deal with the club over the winter but has appeared in just 26 major-league games the past two years due to injuries, the latest a rotator cuff injury last year. Nevertheless, the former Gold Glove winner who has a 38.5 percent caught-stealing rate is a strong addition to the catching mix.

Mark Kolozsvary* (28): Another minor-league signee this past winter, Kolozsvary is likely to add depth in Triple A. He spent much of last year in Triple A with the Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles.

Stephen Scott* (26): Scott, the Red Sox’s 10th-round pick in 2019, split time between Triple-A Worcester and Double-A Portland last year but has also seen time at designated hitter and first base as the Red Sox look to expand his versatility.

Nathan Hickey* (24): Boston’s fifth-round pick in 2021, Hickey will likely spend much of the year in Double A alongside 2023 first-rounder Kyle Teel. Hickey played 80 games last year and was named an Eastern League All-Star.

Infielders (13)

What does Triston Casas have in store for his second full MLB season? (Dale Zanine / USA Today)

Triston Casas, 1B (26): Entering his second full season in the league, Casas will look to take another step forward on offense to power the lineup after finishing last year with a team-leading .856 OPS while putting up 23 home runs.

Rafael Devers, 3B (28): Devers had a slow start to 2023, but eventually had a solid season with 33 homers and an .851 OPS, even if those numbers are below his normal standards. He’s yet to reach a 40-homer season in his career while eclipsing a .900 OPS just once. This would be a good year to do so.

Vaughn Grissom, 2B (23): Grissom looks to solidify the revolving door that has been second base for the past several years for the Red Sox. He’s appeared in 64 big-league games the past two seasons, hitting .287 with a .746 OPS in limited action, but is looking to make the jump to a full-time role this year.

Trevor Story, SS (31): Thanks to various injuries, Story has played 137 games combined in the past two seasons since arriving in Boston. He’s a year removed from modified Tommy John surgery and a healthy Story would not only strengthen the defense but add speed to the lineup.

Bobby Dalbec, 1B (28): Many thought Dalbec would be traded this winter, but he’s still on the 40-man roster and the Red Sox don’t have a backup first baseman. Dalbec led the Triple-A International League last year with 33 homers but has never been able to show that power consistently in the majors. He might get a chance to earn a bench role this spring.

David Hamilton, SS/2B (26): Hamilton had offseason surgery on his thumb after a brief big-league debut last year. His greatest asset is his speed, setting a Red Sox minor-league record with 70 stolen bases in 2022 in Double A. He swiped 57 bags last year and has a chance to make the team as a utility infielder with blazing speed off the bench.

Enmanuel Valdez, 2B (25): Valdez made his big-league debut last season playing 49 games, mostly at second base. He posted a .764 OPS but was part of the revolving door at second and could compete for a utility spot. If not, he’ll be depth in Triple A.

Pablo Reyes, INF (30): Reyes offered solid defense while splitting time between second and short last season while hitting .287 with a .716 OPS. He’ll be in the mix for a bench role, particularly because he’s out of minor-league options.

Nick Yorke*, 2B (21): The 2020 first-round pick will be attending his second Red Sox big-league camp. After an awful 2022, Yorke had a bounceback season last year with a .785 OPS in 110 games in Double A. He will likely reach Triple A at some point this season and if he keeps progressing, it’s not out of the question that he’ll make his major-league debut later this year. The Athletic’s Keith Law ranked him the No. 9 Red Sox prospect.

Chase Meidroth*, INF (22): A fourth-rounder in the 2022 draft, Meidroth spent most of last season in Double A where he was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year, playing 55 games at third base. Law ranked him No. 19 among Red Sox prospects. Meidroth also played short and second while posting a .761 OPS.

Nick Sogard*, INF (26): This marks the second straight big-league camp for Sogard, who was acquired by the Red Sox from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021. The switch-hitting utility player hit .266 in Triple A last year and has played every position except first base and catcher.

Jamie Westbrook*, INF (28): Westbrook hit 20 doubles and 21 homers in 117 games for Triple-A Scranton in 2023, mostly splitting time between second and third. He’ll likely serve as big-league depth in Triple A.

Romy Gonzalez, (27): The Red Sox claimed Gonzalez off waivers last month to add depth to the system. He appeared in 86 big-league games for the Chicago White Sox from 2021-23, mostly playing second base but also has some experience in the outfield.

Utility (4)

Can Ceddanne Rafaela grab a full-time role out of spring training? (David Butler II / USA Today)

Ceddanne Rafaela, (22): Law recently ranked Rafaela the No. 32 prospect in baseball and No. 3 Red Sox prospect writing that Rafaela “plays some of the best center-field defense anywhere in professional baseball.” There’s no question Rafaela is an asset with his speed and defense, it’s just a matter of more consistency at the plate. If he can show improvement in that area this spring, he’ll have a spot on the roster.

Eddy Alvarez* (34): Alvarez spent most of last season in Triple-A Nashville but has appeared in 50 big-league games over parts of three seasons. He’s mostly played second and third base throughout his career but does have experience in the outfield. Alvarez is the only player in camp with Olympic medals in speed skating and baseball.

Joe Dunand* (28): Dunand played 95 games for Atlanta’s Triple-A club last season with 19 doubles and 17 homers while splitting time between first, third and DH.

Dalton Guthrie* (28): Guthrie appeared in 56 big-league games for the Philadelphia Phillies the past two years but spent much of last season with Atlanta’s Triple-A club, where he mostly split time between left and center field. He’s the son of former big-league pitcher Mark Guthrie.

Outfielders (7)

Wilyer Abreu, RF (24): Abreu, Law’s No. 6 Red Sox prospect, had a strong debut at the end of last year with an .862 OPS in 28 games. He likely won’t keep up that pace over a full season, but the Red Sox seem committed to him in right field.

Jarren Duran, CF/LF (27): Duran is coming off season-ending surgery on his toe, but has returned to full workouts and is ready for camp. Replicating his impressive 2023 season in which he posted an .828 OPS will be tough, but he’s likely to be leaned on heavily in center and left, where he played 75 games and 27 games, respectively, last season. His speed will also be key for the lineup.

Masataka Yoshida, LF (30): Yoshida tired by the end of his first big-league season but still had a strong first year, hitting .289 with a .783 OPS. His defense in left was sub-par and it’s likely he’ll see more time at DH this season, but the Red Sox have also been working with him throughout the winter on defense and plan to do so more this spring.

Tyler O’Neill will be making his Red Sox debut. (Ed Zurga / Getty Images)

Tyler O’Neill, OF (28): O’Neill is likely to see most of his time in left and center, but has experience in right, too. The former Gold Glove left fielder has been injured the majority of the past two seasons. If he can stay healthy and return to a semblance of his 2021 offensive numbers when he posted a .912 OPS and 34 homers, he’ll be a boon for the offense.

Rob Refsnyder, OF (33): The veteran outfielder has experience at all three outfield spots and continued to hit left-handed pitching well last season with an .828 OPS. They’ll lean on him to do more of the same this year.

Mark Contreras*, OF (29): Contreras appeared in 28 games for the Twins in 2022 but spent most of 2023 in Triple A. In 565 career minor-league games, he has a .728 OPS while posting 23 steals each of the past two seasons. He’s played all three outfield spots throughout his career.

Corey Rosier*, OF (24): Rosier was acquired in 2022 from the San Diego Padres as part of the Hunter Renfroe trade. He spent much of last year in Double-A Portland before a late-season promotion to Triple A. Over 116 games, he hit .285 with 49 stolen bases and has spent the majority of his career in right field.

(Top photo of Masataka Yoshida: Brian Fluharty / Getty Images)