PORTLAND, Maine — When the Red Sox drafted Roman Anthony last summer they saw a tremendous athlete who they believed could develop into a franchise cornerstone, the kind of power-hitting center fielder every franchise dreams of finding.
Since then, Anthony’s shown he can be all of that and more.
Less than two years removed from playing high school baseball in Florida, Roman Anthony is now among the fastest-rising prospects in all of baseball. The 19-year-old outfielder has rocketed through the Red Sox ranks and recently became the first teenager to reach Double-A Portland since Xander Bogaerts in 2012.
Now nearing the end of his first full season of professional baseball, Anthony said his experience with the Red Sox so far has been everything he could have hoped for.
“It’s awesome. It’s great to be in an organization that gives you credit, sees what you’re doing every day and sees you’re putting in the work off the field as well as on the field,” Anthony said. “It’s been everything I could have imagined and more.”
An elite talent
Originally selected No. 79 overall in the 2022 MLB Draft with a compensatory pick acquired after losing Eduardo Rodriguez in free agency, Anthony made a brief cameo at Low-A Salem towards the end of last season and returned there to start the season this April. It was immediately apparent he was too advanced for the level, and two promotions later Anthony still hasn’t met a challenge he couldn’t overcome.
Across three levels Anthony has batted .267 with an .866 OPS to go along with 14 home runs, 27 doubles, 61 RBI, 16 stolen bases and 85 walks over 103 games. He’s quickly acclimated to Double-A too, hitting a home run and four doubles, swiping three bases and recording more walks (7) than strikeouts (4) in his first seven games.
“There’s no vibration with him. No moment has been too big,” said Portland Sea Dogs manager Chad Epperson. “He’s grinded it out in the box, if he gets out he’s back in the dugout, grabs his glove and goes to the field. He’s just very mature, not only as a player but as a human being as well and we’re all seeing it right now.”
Epperson said the traits that have stood out the most with Anthony are his advanced bat to ball skills and his swing decisions, which allow him to maximize his impressive power. Those tools are a major reason why Baseball America currently has Anthony ranked as the No. 19 prospect in all of baseball, second only to Marcelo Mayer (No. 15) in the Red Sox organization.
Beyond Anthony’s ability to seek out his pitch and do damage when it comes, Epperson said he’s also been impressive in the field and is a threat on the bases. Anthony, for his part, said he prefers to think of himself as an all-around baseball player rather than a slugger or a bat-first guy.
“I take pride in all aspects of the game, I wouldn’t just say I’m a hitter first, every day I try to get better at every aspect of the game, whether it’s base running, being a good teammate in the dugout, defense, offense,” Anthony said. “Good things happen when you play the right way, so I just try to play as hard as I can and give it all that I’ve got every day.”
One of the guys
Born in May 2004, Anthony was only five months old when the Red Sox ended their 86-year World Series drought. Since going pro he’s usually been among the youngest players in the clubhouse, but that hasn’t stopped him from developing a rapport with his older teammates.
He and Kyle Teel, Boston’s first-round pick in this July’s MLB Draft, have become particularly tight.
“Roman’s the man, I love that guy,” Teel said. “We’ve gotten pretty close since we’ve been together for the last couple of weeks.”
Teel and Anthony first teamed up in High-A last month when Teel was assigned to the Greenville Drive after only three games of rookie ball. The two were then promoted to Portland together on Sept. 5, and they’re now roommates who spend much of their downtime hanging out and playing the PGA Tour video game in their apartment.
Anthony, an avid golfer who likes deep-sea fishing when he’s home in Florida, said he’s enjoyed being in Portland and is excited to get to know New England better.
“It’s really cool to be here and be one step closer,” Anthony said. “Just being at this field, it’s a great field, a lot of great guys have come through here so it’s just exciting to be here.”
Soaking it in
By any objective measure this season has been a spectacular success for Anthony, who has firmly established himself as one of the top young players in the sport.
Yet great as it’s been, Anthony said the magnitude of what he’s done still hasn’t sunk in.
“It will probably hit me a bit more after the season is over. I try not to keep up on it, try to stay off all the social media as much as I can,” Anthony said. “It’s been a great year, there’s obviously room for improvement and things that I could have done better, so I know that and I’ll take that into next year.”
Anthony said this offseason he expects to work on developing physically, and that getting stronger, quicker and faster should help him improve in every aspect of his game. For all his early success Anthony understands he’s not a finished product, and he plans to keep pushing until he achieves his goal of reaching the big leagues.
“I’ve learned a ton, I’ve been to three different levels now and experienced my first spring training so it’s been an awesome year,” Anthony said. “It’s definitely something I’ll look back on when its the offseason and be like wow, it’s definitely a special year but there’s a lot of work to be done.”