PORTLAND, Maine — Roman Anthony remembers things being somewhat stagnant in the Greenville Drive clubhouse. The Red Sox High-A affiliate was 53-49 and had gone 4-7 in its prior 11 games, and the vibe around the club was kind of low.
Then, on Aug. 8, top Red Sox draft pick Kyle Teel was called up from rookie ball, and immediately everything changed.
“It seemed like this guy came in and brought the energy that we needed,” said Anthony, one of Boston’s top prospects. “He’s clicked with every guy in every clubhouse, he’s really an awesome dude and he’s the type of guy you want to be around.”
A highly regarded catcher out of the University of Virginia, Teel was selected No. 14 overall by the Red Sox in July’s MLB Draft and has made an immediate impression since debuting with the organization last month. The 21-year-old took off like a rocket in Greenville and was promoted again alongside Anthony to Double-A Portland barely three weeks later.
Entering Sunday Teel had batted .363 with two home runs, 22 RBI and nearly as many walks (21) as strikeouts (22) through his first 26 professional games. He’s already ranked as the No. 82 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline, and beyond his gaudy stats, coaches and teammates agree one of Teel’s best qualities is his infectious energy and positive vibe.
“This guy, I’m telling you, you listen to him and when he’s talking baseball it’s genuine,” said Portland Sea Dogs manager Chad Epperson. “I look forward every day to listening to him chat on the field and off the field.”
Epperson said Teel is always chirping on the field, but his talk is also backed up by substance and a level of knowledge that belies his inexperience. Beyond his talents as a fielder, Epperson said one of Teel’s most valuable skills is his ability to connect with his pitchers, even ones he’s never worked with before.
“Catching is one thing and then to catch guys you’ve never caught before is another, and he has not been overmatched at all with any of these new guys he’s catching,” Epperson said. “Not only is he handling them but he’s taking charge in game and pregame and in the meetings, which is nice to see.”
Teel’s had a knack for bringing his teammates together in the clubhouse and away from the field too, and one of the ways he’s done that is through his musical talent.
“Sometimes I’ll break out the DJ board for a postgame win, it’s pretty fun in the locker room. I like to play guitar sometimes, just a good thing to do on my own,” Teel said, adding that his favorite song to play is “Sister Golden Hair” by America. “It’s been hard just because I’ve been moving around so much but whenever I get a good opportunity to stop at a Guitar Center or play on my computer with my DJ stuff, it’s been a lot of fun.”
“He’s pretty talented! He’s really good with the guitar, he can sing a little bit, he’s a legit DJ, he can spin it,” Anthony said. “He brings the energy. He’d DJ for us for us after some wins in Greenville in the clubhouse and he would DJ for us back at the apartment. He’s super entertaining and he’s just fun to be around.”
Portland’s season officially came to an end on Sunday, which means Teel will now shift his focus to the offseason and begin preparations for his first full year as a pro. He plans to spend time with his family before focusing on getting stronger and faster, while also building on the lessons he’s learned through his initial two-month introduction to minor league baseball.
“I’ve been loving it, just playing at these pro stadiums has been awesome,” Teel said. “Then you have the competition, which has been really great. It’s been a lot of fun.”
The Red Sox are no doubt excited by what they’ve already seen from Teel, and if nothing else he’s already shown he has certain traits you just can’t teach.