It’s hard for a second-round pick to fly further under the radar — regardless of how good they are — than Cameron Cannon has since the Red Sox drafted him in 2019.
However, the Arizona product might be hitting his way into prospect relevance.
Boston drafted Cannon, a middle infielder, 43rd overall in the 2019 MLB draft largely due to his offense. But he struggled as a professional that summer, hitting just .200 with three homers across 45 combined games for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and short-season Lowell Spinners. Cannon didn’t make much noise during the Fall Instructional League in either 2019 or 2020, and he, like many minor leaguers, saw his 2020 season wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, expectations for Cannon were low entering the 2021 campaign.
But he’s been on fire since the start of the season for the high-A Greenville Drive. The 23-year-old is hitting .319 with four homers and a .950 OPS over 18 games. He stayed hot Tuesday night with two hits, including a grand slam.
As Red Sox Stats noted, it’s entirely possible Cannon earns a promotion to Double-A Portland as soon as midseason. Beyond that, it’s hard to speculate what the future could hold for the 5-foot-10, bat-first infielder.
Cannon has a lot of work to do defensively. Scouts doubt his ability to play shortstop in the pros, and he might not even stick at second base. Some believe he could land in left field. Furthermore, the jury remains out on just how good of a hitter Cannon can be.
He currently is the 42nd ranked prospect on Soxprospects.com, which wrote the following summation on Cannon before the start of the season:
Potential minor league depth player. Ceiling of an emergency up-and-down player. Bat will have to carry him; does not project to add significant value defensively. Needs to improve defensively and refine plate approach. Has not shown the potential at the plate the Red Sox envisioned when they drafted him. If he can show the upside offensively he did coming out of college, projection could change quickly. Early returns from 2021 will tell a lot about where his development is going. Likely will add other positions as he moves up the ladder, but currently looks best suited for second base.
Cannon’s current performance, if sustained, could change the narrative.
MLB Pipeline is a bit more bullish on Cannon, ranking him 25th overall in the system with this analysis, which also was written before the season:
Cannon’s bat is his only potential above-average tool. He shows fringy speed out of the batter’s box and is a little faster underway, but most scouts don’t think he has the quickness or arm strength to play shortstop at the upper levels. He has reliable hands and his average arm is a better fit at second base, where he looked much more comfortable during his first taste of pro ball.
Cannon obviously has a long way to go before he’s knocking on the big league door. You don’t erase “minor league depth player” projections with a good first month in Single-A.
Nevertheless, Cannon’s hot start is the latest bit of good news to come out of a Red Sox farm system that continues to show an upward trajectory after bottoming out a few years ago.
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