Before the start of the 2024 season, is evaluating several noteworthy prospects in the Boston Red Sox organization, using insight and analysis from industry experts to gauge each player’s outlook for the upcoming campaign. Next up: Yoeilin Cespedes.

Prospect rankings are fluid.

Players progress and regress. Sometimes, they change teams. And organizations evolve, for better or worse.

So, while there’s a clear “top three” in the Red Sox farm system ahead of the 2024 season, it’s worth considering who will represent the next wave.

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One possibility: Yoeilin Cespedes.

Cespedes hasn’t been with the Red Sox long, but he’s already turning heads thanks to his immense potential. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him soar up prospect rankings over the next few years, perhaps starting this season.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the 18-year-old infielder.

The Red Sox signed Cespedes as an international free agent in January 2023. Cespedes, who was 17 at the time, landed a $1.4 million signing bonus, an indication of just how highly the Red Sox think of the Dominican Republic native despite his youth and inexperience.

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MLB Pipeline had Cespedes ranked No. 25 in the international free agent class, a group headlined by Ethan Salas, who since developed into one of the game’s most highly regarded prospects with the San Diego Padres.

Cespedes is small in stature, listed at 5-foot-9 and 181 pounds, but he drew rave reviews for his pure hitting ability, which he quickly displayed during a 46-game debut in the Dominican Summer League last season.

“He’s put up some numbers we haven’t seen very much from that level,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero told last July.

Cespedes slashed .346/.392/.560 with six home runs and 38 RBIs in 209 plate appearances. He was named the Red Sox’s Latin Program Position Player of the Year.

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Scouting report
Alex Speier wrote for Baseball America last July that Cespedes already looked like one of the top hitting prospects to come through the Red Sox Dominican Academy since Rafael Devers a decade ago. Lofty praise, obviously.

Speier isn’t alone in that assessment, either, as there’s a contingent of evaluators who believe Cespedes could be something special.

“He’s a tough one because I still haven’t seen him (play),” Ian Cundall, director of scouting for, recently told “But I’ve talked to some people who have, and there are people who think he should be like a top-five guy in the system already.”

So, what exactly stands out about Cespedes, a diminutive teenager who doesn’t even have a full professional season under his belt?

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Well, let’s start with the bat.

It’s a much different profile than Devers, now one of MLB’s most feared sluggers, but it’s nevertheless tantalizing. MLB Pipeline wrote that Cespedes boasts “plus bat speed,” “noteworthy raw power” and “an advanced approach,” and it doesn’t sound like anything he’s done since signing with the Red Sox has dispelled those notions. By all accounts, the kid can rake.

“His max (exit velocities) are insane for someone his age and size,” Cundall said. “I think it was like 107 (mph) last year, which is really, really good for a 17-year-old who’s 5-9. And I just think what he showed at the plate was really impressive.

“The caveat with all this is it’s the DSL. But people who watch the DSL consistently were all blown away by him and said he was the best guy on that Red Sox team by far.”

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Cespedes is aggressive at the plate — he walked just 14 times in 209 plate appearances last season — and thus might need to become more selective as he climbs the system. But Romero told MassLive that Cespedes “uses the whole field” and “hits the ball hard everywhere,” traits that should play even as he sees more advanced pitching.

” There are people who think he should be like a top-five guy in the (Red Sox) system already.”

Ian Cundall, director of scouting for, on Yoeilin Cespedes

Defensively? That’s anyone’s guess at this point, with Cespedes so early in his development. But the Red Sox presumably will groom him as a shortstop — his natural position — before shifting him elsewhere if necessary.

Cespedes certainly looks like a second baseman, given his size. But organizational need as he reaches the upper minors could factor into his long-term home in the field, as well.

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Most-likely outcome: Regular infielder.

This is a nearly impossible exercise. There’s so much uncertainty. After all, no one has seen Cespedes in game action in the United States yet.

“He is kinda that big wild card, where he’s kinda a mythological figure,” Cundall joked. “Everyone hears about how good this guy is, but no one’s ever actually seen him play. So, we’ll have to wait and see.”

That said, there’s enough information floating around to suggest Cespedes has a good chance of someday reaching the majors — and then sticking upon arrival.

“Cespedes has been compared to a young Howie Kendrick,” MLB Pipeline wrote. “It’s a lofty comparison, but Cespedes has a chance to be a special prospect.”

Kendrick, once an elite prospect, never quite achieved superstar status in The Show, but he carved out a very good 15-year career. The Red Sox would take that outcome in a heartbeat, even though they can dream on more for now.

“Just talking to people who have seen him, there’s a lot of confidence that he might be that next guy.”

Ian Cundall on Yoeilin Cespedes

Best-case scenario: All-Star caliber infielder.

Again, we’re basically throwing a dart at the board here. A lot can happen over the next several years. But we’re talking about best-case scenario. If Cespedes refines his raw tools, why can’t he become an impact player?

“You need guys like that. You’ve got to take some upside risks. You need guys with that ceiling,” Cundall said. “Obviously, developing major leaguers is the goal here. But we have seen that the teams that have the best chance to succeed at the major league level can develop homegrown stars. And that’s no easy feat. But when you’re talking about ceiling, he’s a ceiling guy. And you need those guys in the system to balance out the higher-floor or safer options.”

Cespedes told reporters last summer he grew up idolizing Xander Bogaerts and tries to emulate the former Red Sox shortstop.

SoxProspects ranking: No. 10

Marcelo Mayer, Roman Anthony and Kyle Teel are widely considered the Red Sox’s top three position-player prospects. And each could graduate to the majors within the next two to three years.

After that, perhaps Cespedes will sit near the top of Boston’s prospect rankings while garnering national attention.

“Just talking to people who have seen him, there’s a lot of confidence that he might be that next guy,” Cundall said. “If you were to ask me who’s the guy outside the top like eight or nine who could jump into the top five the quickest, it would probably be him. Because if he shows early on what we think he can show, then he belongs in that top-five group immediately. He’d be right up there with (Miguel) Bleis, (Ceddanne) Rafaela — that tier — because as I said, there are people who think he might be a top-100 prospect nationally already, too.”

Fenway forecast
It’ll likely be years before Cespedes sniffs the majors. Think 2027 or so. But this still marks a big season for the up-and-comer. We could learn a lot about his career trajectory, which in turn might impact how the Red Sox farm system is viewed — top to bottom — across the industry.

“I remember Devers, you would see him in Low-A and just be like, ‘Oh yeah. This is it. It just sounds different coming off his bat.’ Bogaerts was pretty similar in like Low-A,” Cundall said. “But I think with a guy like Cespedes, he could easily this year, if he goes out — let’s say they aggressively assign him to Low-A. Pretty good indicator right there that if they’re jumping a guy from the DSL to Low-A, if he goes out and performs right there, then that’s where it’s like, ‘OK, game on. It’s time We’re going to springboard this guy up because he’s showing out as a (18-year-old) at Salem, which is not an easy park to hit.’ “

Featured image via Kelly O'Connor/SoxProspects