Red Sox 2023 Rookie Development Program returns to Fenway Park

As the Red Sox prepare to field one of their oldest big-league rosters ever, some of their most promising young prospects are coming to town to partake in the annual Rookie Development Program.

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and last winter’s MLB lockout, the Sox will welcome 11 of their top prospects to Fenway Park on Saturday for a five-day intensive meant to prepare them for every facet of major-league life. Seven pitchers will be in attendance: lefties Chris Murphy and Brandon Walter, and righties Brayan Bello, Ryan Fernandez, Franklin German, Zack Kelly, and Bryan Mata. Infielder David Hamilton, outfielder Wilyer Abreu, and Ceddanne Rafaela and Enmanuel Valdez, who both play the infield and outfield, round out the group.

The press release lays out the programming, which includes, “two workouts daily that emphasize conditioning and strength training as well as a concentration on baseball fundamentals. In addition, the players are attending a number of seminars that will focus on the assimilation into Major League life on and off the field.”

The players will also attend Sunday’s Boston Bruins game at TD Garden and get a primer in club philanthropy by working with the Red Sox Foundation and visiting Boston Children’s Hospital.

In lieu of holding the program last offseason, the Sox conducted “Winter Warmup” in Fort Myers; 28 full-season minor-leaguers were invited, including German, Hamilton, Kelly, Rafaela, and Walter, as they weren’t on the 40-man roster at the time. Due to the MLB Lockout, the Red Sox were unable to include anyone on the 40-man in the mini-camp, so Bello and Triston Casas were among those forced to sit it out.

Of the 11 prospects expected to attend this year’s program, Fernandez is the only player not currently on the team’s 40-man roster. Ahead of December’s Rule 5 Draft, the Sox gave 40-man protection to Abreu, Hamilton, Murphy, Rafaela, Valdez, and Walter, and Mata has been on the roster since 2020.

Rafaela is the only attendee in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects, slotting in at No. 96 (No. 3 in the Sox system) after a breakout season in 2022. Bello exceeded rookie limits in 2022; he, Kelly, and German already have big-league experience. Bello made his debut in July 2022, and finished the year with a 4.71 ERA across 13 appearances (11 starts) totaling 57 1/3 innings. He’s spent the offseason preparing to compete for a spot in the 2023 starting rotation, including putting in work with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. Kelly and German were late-September call-ups to bolster a beleaguered bullpen.

MLB Pipeline anticipates Mata, Walter, Valdez, Abreu, and Hamilton making their major-league debuts in 2023. The slew of short-term free-agent contracts this offseason indicates that the Sox expect an influx of young talent in the near future.

The 2023 Red Sox look old now, but if these prospects stay on track, this roster is going to get a lot younger very soon.