Outfielder Roman Anthony was promoted from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland on Sept. 5. The 19-year-old was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the second round of the 2022 MLB draft. Courtesy of Greenville Drive

Roman Anthony modestly describes his ascension through the Boston Red Sox farm system as “baby steps.” Which raises the question, what does Anthony consider rapid progress?

The 19-year old Anthony, of West Palm Beach, Florida, was a second-round pick by Boston in 2022, the 79th overall selection. Joining the Portland Sea Dogs for the final two weeks of the season gave Anthony three stops on his 2023 tour of Boston’s minor league ladder. Whether it was in Low-A Salem, High-A Greenville or now Double-A Portland, he has found success at every stop. Entering Sunday’s season finale against Hartford at Hadlock Field, Anthony has a home run with six RBI and nine runs scored in nine games with the Sea Dogs.

“I honestly didn’t set any timeline. I didn’t set any expectations. I just try to take in as much info as I can, starting in spring training, and learn as much as I can from the different coordinators and managers and coaches,” said Anthony, an outfielder who has a .862 OPS in 105 games this season. “Just play my game, have fun, and do the same thing I’ve done my whole life.”

The 2023 season was a strong one in Portland in terms of prospect promotion and production. Twelve of the top 30 Boston prospects ranked by MLB.com played in Portland at least part of this season, including outfielder/shortstop Ceddanne Rafaela, who is now in the majors with the Red Sox. Shortstop Marcelo Mayer, 20, the team’s top draft pick in 2021, was promoted to the Sea Dogs on May 30. He batted .189 with six home runs and 20 RBI in 43 games for Portland before going on the injured list Aug. 5 because of a left shoulder injury that ended his season.

Twenty-five of the 60 players ranked by Soxprospects.com played for Portland this season. Last month, Baseball America ranked Boston’s minor league talent as the fifth-best in baseball. Mayer was ranked the 15th-best prospect overall, while Anthony was 19th.

Shortstop Marcelo Mayer, ranked as Boston’s top prospect by Baseball America, was promoted to the Sea Dogs on May 30. He batted .189 with six home runs and 20 RBI in 43 games for Portland before his season was ended by a left shoulder injury. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

By and large, the Red Sox are pleased with the progress made by prospects throughout the minor league system this season, said Brian Abraham, Boston’s director of player development.


“What you’re looking for is consistency,” Abraham said.

Sea Dogs Manager Chad Epperson said he and the coaches on his staff, pitching coach Sean Isaac, hitting coach Doug Clark and coach Mickey Jiang, will sit down with each player as the season ends and do a thorough evaluation, as they have at points during the season. Those discussion are not just about on the field production.

“Outside of those things, it’s are they a good teammate? Are they understanding how to handle failure? Are they running balls out? All that stuff. All of them are aware and it makes it easy for us to hone in on what they need to work on individually,” Epperson said. “I think everyone has done a good job of moving the needle where they need to this year.”

A concern for the Red Sox at the big-league level all season has been starting pitching. While Brayan Bello, who began 2022 with the Sea Dogs, has shown promise in Boston’s rotation, the need to develop more young starters is evident. Shane Drohan, Brian Van Belle and Grant Gambrell are among the starting pitching prospects who spent time in Portland this summer before moving up to Triple-A Worcester. As the Sea Dogs end the season, they have two other promising starters –righties Wikelman Gonzalez and Isaac Coffey.

Gonzalez, an international signing from Venezuela, has been Portland’s top starter since his July 14 promotion from Greenville, although he struggles at times with control. The ninth-rated prospect in the system by MLB.com, the 21-year-old Gonzalez is 3-1 in 10 Portland starts with a 2.42 ERA. Gonzalez was the starting pitcher in a combined no-hitter against New Hampshire on July 23, his second Double-A start. In 48 1/3 innings with Portland, he has 63 strikeouts. A power pitcher with a fastball in the high 90s, he also has 28 walks.

Wikelman Gonzalez delivers a pitch against Hartford Yard Goats on Tuesday at Hadlock Field. Gonzalez allowed one run on two hits, while striking out eight and walking five in four innings. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Speaking through translator Justin Frometa, a Sea Dogs coach, Gonzalez said he’s finding confidence in his cutter. His offseason will be focused on making sure he comes into spring training in the best possible shape, Gonzalez said. Abraham said Gonzalez’s control issues aren’t seen as a major concern at this point, as long as he continues to work to attack the strike zone.


“It’s a big jump from A to AA. Guys with better stuff sometimes find it harder to harness it,” Abraham said.

A 10th-round pick in 2022 out of Oral Roberts University, Coffey said his goal in spring training was to make it to High-A Greenville by the end of the season.

“Toward the end of spring training, I was like, maybe Portland would be a good goal to reach by the end of the year,” Coffey said. “Then I got sent to Greenville right off the bat, and that was really cool. That was unexpected.”

Coffey, who made his first start for the Sea Dogs on June 21, his 23rd birthday, said the big thing for him is learning to throw any of his pitches in any count. His fastball has good movement, Coffey said, and this season he’s added a cutter and slider. In 11 starts with Portland, Coffey has 72 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings, with a 3.92 ERA.

“Guys here don’t swing and miss as much, so you can’t rely just on your fastball in 2-0 counts getting you back to 2-2. You’ve got to be a bit more strategic than that,” Coffey said. “In Greenville, you can work away from the zone a little bit and still get misses. Here, you have to establish yourself in the zone to get them to swing.”

Catcher Kyle Teel played for the University of Virginia this spring and was the ACC Player of the Year and an All-American. The Red Sox drafted him with the 14th overall pick of the major league draft in July. AP Photo/Kara Durrette

Like Anthony, catcher Kyle Teel’s journey through the minor leagues has been on the fast track. The 14th overall pick this July, Teel played three games for Boston’s Florida Rookie League club before bypassing Salem completely. After just 14 games in Greenville, Teel was promoted to Portland on Sept. 5, the same day as Anthony. In nine games with the Sea Dogs, the ACC Player of the Year at Virginia has a home run with 11 RBI and a .462 on-base percentage.


“I wouldn’t say it was a plan of mine,” Teel, 21, said of his rapid climb to Double-A. “The goal is just to work hard every single day, and this is just a result of that hard work… I’m new and they want to see me play. That said, I’ve seen a lot of improvement. There’s so many resources here with the Red Sox that enable players to get better.”

A basic tenet of the Red Sox system is to put players in a situation that may be out of their comfort zone and challenge them. That was the case when Drohan was promoted to Triple-A after a dominant April in Portland, and when Mayer and infielder Blaze Jordan were promoted to Portland after a short stint in High-A.

“It’s a challenge at the end of the year,” Abraham said of Anthony and Teel’s promotions to Portland. “It gives them a taste of where they may begin next year. There’s certainly no guarantees we send them both to Portland (to begin 2024).”

Coffey, Gonzalez and Teel are among the players who are scheduled to participate in the fall performance program at the organizations’s training complex in Fort Myers, Florida. In the coming weeks, Boston will determine which players will be assigned to play in the Arizona Fall League. After missing significant time to injury in 2022, second baseman Nick Yorke is a player who benefited from playing in Arizona last fall. Boston’s first-round pick in 2020, Yorke leads the Sea Dogs in runs (73), hits (118), doubles (25), and RBI (61).

“It will be guys who need more at-bats, guys who need more innings. Or they’re learning a new position, and game reps are needed more than strength training or bullpen sessions,” Abraham said. “You want to balance a long season with the work guys need.”

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