Saturday, March 30, 2019

2019 MLB Predictions

2019 MLB Predictions

AL East

1. Boston-                  Red Sox Repeat- Whatta Relief
2.* Tampa Bay          Rays Find an Opening
3.** New York          Booming Bats, but Bombers Brittle
4. Toronto                 Vlad Jr. is the Whole Show
5. Baltimore              Rest of MLB will Hyde from O's

AL Central

1. Minnesota              Rocco's Roster Rebounds
2. Cleveland              Shipping off Vets Cost Tribe
3. Chicago                 Youth Movement Nears Fruition
4. Kansas City           Hard to Believe They Won it All Just Four Years Ago
5. Detroit                   Curse of Mike Illitch

AL West

1. Houston                 No competition in this division
2. Los Angeles          Trout Extended, So is Streak of No Post Season Success
3. Seattle                    But DiPoto Keeps Trading Off Pieces
4. Oakland                 No Moneyball Here- 2018 was a Fluke
5. Texas                     Last With or Without a Border Wall

*= First Wildcard  **= Second Wildcard

AL Playoffs

Wild Card  Yankees over Rays

ALDS: Houston over NYY, Red Sox over Twins both series in four games

ALCS: Sox beat Astros again in 2019, this time in 6 games

NL East

1. Washington     Best Outfield in NL even without Harper
2, New York       Seattle imports Diaz/Cano plus rotation lead Metropolitans.
3. Philadelphia    Philly Boos Bryce
4. Atlanta            Step Back for Young Braves
5. Miami             This is What Jeter has Created

NL Central

1. Chicago          Cubs Window is Not Closed after All
2.** St. Louis      Goldy Leads St. Loo to Silver Place Finish in Central
3. Milwaukee      Cannot Recreate 2018 Magic
4. Pittsburgh        But are in the Wild Card Hunt into September
5. Cincinatti        Not Tanking, but Still Not Good Enough

NL West

1. Los Angeles    But Grip on Division is Slipping
2.* Colorado       Rockies Push LA to Last Day
3. San Diego       Finally Have a Franchise Face....Fernando Tatis, Jr.
4. Arizona           Bad Team, But Escape Cellar
5. San Francisco Sad Ending to Bruce Bochy's Hall of Fame Career

NL Playoffs

Wild card  Rockies beat Cards.

NLDS Cubs get revenge over Rockies in 4, LA is not going to World Series this year, lose in 5 to Nats.

NLCS Washington finally wins NL in 7 games over Cubs.

World Series:  Red Sox take down the team from the nation's capital in five games to win fifth 21st Century World Championship ( matching the five titles from the first two decades of the 20th Century). They are paced by WS MVP Rafael Devers, who hits .429 with four home runs in the Series, the last three all in the clinching Game Five win.

AL MVP     Alex Bregman ( a Sox outfielder not named Betts finishes in top five of voting)
NL MVP     Javier Baez
AL Cy         Chris Sale
NL Cy         Jacob DeGrom ( but this time he wins 18 games)
AL Mgr       Alex Cora
NL Mgr.      Mike Shildt
AL ROY     Eloy Jimenez
NL ROY     Victor Robles

Red Sox Note or two

Sox repeat again in large part due to  the big step forward by five players:

Eduado Rodriguez     17 wins with ERA under 2.80
Rafael Devers            33 Home Runs with much improved defense, an AL All-Star
Blake Swihart            Takes over as #1 catcher by mid-June, hits .310
Andrew Benentendi    Flourishes in leadoff spot, also makes All Star team
Jackie Bradley, Jr.       His batting style change made mid-2018 takes hold and eliminates the up and down  batting performance he was known for. JBJ hits .282 with 26 home runs and wins the Gold Glove again.      

The bullpen overcomes doubts with a strong performance by Matt Barnes and with call ups of Travis Lakins, Durbin Feltman, and Darwinzon Hernandez during the season.        

Welcome Back Baseball. Here's to 2019.                            

Monday, July 9, 2018

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects- July 2018 Edition

We are back to take a look at the state of the Red Sox farm system.  It is a system replenished to a degree by the draftees taken in June's amateur draft. Here is a look at the top 30, the name of the team with each player is his assignment as of July 1.  The number in{ } is the June ranking.

1. Michael Chavis, Lowell 1B-3B {2}. Chavis is due to return from an 80 game PED suspension after July 2.  He will spend a week or so with Lowell, before likely going back where he finished 2017 in Portland. Chavis goes to the top of these rankings based his power potential and his relatively close proximity of being major league ready.

2. Jaleen Beeks, Pawtucket LHP {1}.  Beeks falls out of the top spot from June, partially based on his major league debut which came in June. Beeks lasted only four innings, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and three walks.  But his 2018 for the Paw Sox continues to go well: 5-5 with a 2.92 ERA with 102 K's.

3. Triston Casas, GCL Red Sox 3B {NA}.  Casas was the first round draft pick for Boston, taken at #26 overall.  Casas was a Florida high schooler who hits left handed. Casas was considered perhaps the best power hitting high schooler in the draft. Casas signed quickly and reported to the Gulf Coast League.  In a continuation of the terrible fortunes of this year's Red Sox minor league stars, Casas injured his right thumb on a diving play at third in his second pro game.  After evaluation, Casas required surgery to his ulnar collateral ligament in the thumb.  It is hoped Casas can return to play in this fall's instructional league.

4. Mike Shawaryn, Portland RHP {3}. Shawaryn continues his solid AA season.  With an ERA of 3.57 and 77 strikeouts vs. only 22 walks, the 2016 draftee continues to anchor the Sea Dog staff.

5. Bryan Mata, Salem RHP {5}. Mata has had some command issues throughout 2018, as illustrated by his 53 strikeouts to 50 walks on the campaign.  But for June in six starts, Mata has an ERA of 2.37.  The teenager will be the only Red Sox representative at the Futures Game.  Mata will be on the World team managed by David Ortiz.

6. Josh Ockimey, Portland 1B {4}. Ockimey only hit .228 in June for the Dogs, but added five home runs to his yearly total (which stands at 11 as of July 1). Despite the low batting average, Josh continues to maintain a healthy OBP of .377 for the season. Ockimey is third in the system in homers and fifth in doubles.  A promotion to AAA, is not out of the question in July or early August.  Ockimey could also be a trade chip if Boston makes a move at the July 31 trade deadline.

7. Tanner Houck, Salem RHP {9}. Last year's first round draft pick form Univ. of Missouri struggled through a miserable first half of 2018.  The Sox had tried to revamp his delivery and pitch selection.  The experiment was scrapped in June, and by the latter stages of June, it seemed like the change back was working. On June 14, Houck pitched six no hit innings, with 13 groundouts. Still to be determined if Houck's future is a starter or reliever. But he does now seem to be on a track to the big leagues.

8. Bobby Dalbec, Salem 3B {6}.  Dalbec continues to display  prodigious power in the Carolina League.  Dalbec hit five home runs in June bringing his seasonal total to fifteen. Dalbec has also tacked on 20 doubles, with an OBP of .350.  Dalbec strikes out a lot, as much as 35% of the time in a stretch in June.  With today's strikeout laden major leagues, if Dalbec could bring his K total down just somewhat, his power will play anywhere.

9. Danny Diaz, DSL 3B {17}. One of the 2017 top signees of the international crop, Diaz began his pro career this season.  And he began with a bang.  In his first 102 at bats, Diaz socked six home runs and 27 RBI.  There is some speculation Diaz could be moved up soon stateside to the GCL.

10. Jason Groome, unassigned {10}.While Groome recoups from his Tommy John surgery, he continues to sit here at 10.

11. CJ Chatham, Salem SS {8}. Chatham had been sharing reps at shortstop for Salem with Santiago Espinal.  But the Red Sox traded Espinal to the Blue Jays for veteran Steve Pearce.  Chatham had a good June in Virginia, hitting .288 with an OBP of .354. A promotion to AA could very well come in July.

12. Antoni Flores, DSL SS {NR}. Flores is another high money signees from 2017's international class.  Flores is also off to a red hot start in the Dominican Summer League. Antoni is hitting .347 with an OBP of .439 in his first 49 at bat's.

13. Travis Lakins, Portland RHP {20}.   Since being moved full time to the Portland bullpen the Ohio State product has not allowed an earned run.  As matter of fact, Lakins only allowed two hits in nine IP.  Do not rule out seeing Lakins in the Boston bullpen this year.

14. Nick Decker, GCL OF {NA}. Decker was the second round draft pick in 2018 for Boston.  Nick is a high schooler from New Jersey. He is considered a top raw power prospect, who projects to be a right fielder, mostly due to a strong arm.  Decker, who throws and bats left handed, also signed quickly and reported to the Gulf Coast League. In an almost unbelievable turn of events, like Triston Casas, Decker was also injured.  On July 1, before Decker even got into a GCL game, he injured his left wrist taking a swing.  The injury turned out to be a small fracture in his wrist.  Decker will be out 3-4 weeks and should be able to get into some August GCL games.

15. Alex Scherff, Greenville RHP {11}.  Scherff pitched much better in June than the early stages of 2018.  The 2017 draftee from a Texas high school had a June ERA of 3.65 and struck out eleven batters versus four walks.

16. Durbin Feltman, Lowell RHP {NA}. Perhaps the Red Sox took their most interesting 2018 draftee in the third round in the person of Durbin Feltman. The closer for TCU, Feltman at 5'11" was considered the most dominant closer in college baseball this season.  And nearly every amateur baseball expert and pundit considers Feltman the most nearly ready for the big leagues prospect in this draft.  After signing Feltman, the Sox assigned him to Lowell.  If the Red Sox have any intentions of Feltman reaching the bigs in 2018 (and they may not) if he dominates at Lowell a promtion to Salem or even Portland should come quickly.

17. Nick Northcutt , GCL 3B {NA}.  This third sacker form Mason City, Ohio could be the steal of the 2018 draft for Boston.  Northcutt was considered to be at least a third round pick but was considered a difficult, if not impossible sign due to a commitment to Vanderbilt. But Boston was able to sign the right handed hitter for over $600,000, using some savings on players drafted in the first ten rounds.  In his first 38 AB's in the GCL Northcutt is hitting .211 with four RBI. And thankfully, has not yet been injured.

18. Ty Buttrey, Pawtucket RHP {22}. Buttrey continues to dominate out of the Paw Sox pen.  In eleven June appearances, Ty was 1-0 with an ERA of 0.60, a WHIP of 0.73 and struck out 21 batters while walking only three.  For the season Buttrey through June has 56 K's and 12 walks with an ERA of 2.00.  Boston continues to bring the William Cuevas and Ryan Brasiers of the world up from AAA, Buttrey's chance must be close behind.

19. Kole Cottam, Lowell, C {NA}. Boston fourth round draft pick this June was Cottam, a catcher from the University of Kentucky. The 21 year old right handed hitter from Knoxville, showed power to all fields at Kentucky. At 6'3" Cottam is big for a catcher, but Boston feels he can stay behind the plate.  If Cottam is a catcher with his power he becomes a potential big time prospect.  But if he needs to move to first base or even DH his power is less outstanding when compared to his positional peers.

20. Roneil Raudes, Salem RHP {13]. On June 11 Raudes was placed on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation.  Raudes is expected to miss the reason 2018.

21. Bobby Poyner, Pawtucket LHP {12}. After making the Red Sox out of spring training, Poyner shuttled back and forth between Boston and Pawtucket.  Poyner had a AAA ERA of 2.61 in June, but it seems he has bypassed by other relievers in the system like Brandon Workman and Tyler Thornberg. Poyner may not see Boston again until September, if then.

22. Brett Netzer, Salem 2B {16}. Netzer had a great June hitting .337 with an OBP of .383 with eight doubles and a triple.  His move five places down the rankings are more of a reflection of the new draftees joining the list.  Netzer could be knocking on the door to Portland.

23. Tzu-Wei Lin, Pawtucket, U. {15} Lin, who is approaching graduation from the prospect list, is continuing a strong AAA season while he waits for the occasional call from Boston. Lin hit .325 for Pawtucket in June.

24. Chandler Shepherd, Pawtucket RHP {21}. In his first season as a starting pitcher in the Sox system, Shepherd continues to pitch well with an ERA of 2.97 in six June starts.  For the year, Chandler has 63 strikeouts while walking only 19.

25. Darwinzon Hernandez, Salem LHP {14}. Hernandez pitched very poorly in June with an 0-3 record while compiling an ERA of 6.65 in five starts.

26. Sam Travis, Pawtucket 1B {7}. Travis may have only the last two months of the Paw Sox season to salvage his prospect standing in the Red Sox system. Through June at AAA he was hitting only .225.  Also Travis had only five home runs in a year he needed to show more power.

27. Cole Brannen, Lowell OF. {25} Last year's second round draft pick, was assigned to Grenville to begin 2018 and fell on his face.  Cole was re-assigned to Lowell when their short season league opened in June.  The early returns are much, much better.  In his first 39 at bats for the Spinners, Brannen hit .282 with an OBP of .378.

28. Kutter Crawford, Greenville RHP {NR}. This right hander was drafted last year in the 16th round from Florida Gulf Coast ( Chris Sale's school).  After signing, Crawford pitched one single inning for Lowell.  Assigned to Greenville for the '18 campaign, Kutter has sparkled.  In fifteen games Crawford is 2-4 with an ERA of 2.95. Kutter has 87 K's with 22 walks through June.  Not to mention a really cool name for a pitcher.

29. Jake Thompson, Salem RHP {24}. Thompson's June numbers mirrored the first two months of 2018, leaving his ERA for the season at 4.57 on July 1.

30. Jarren Duran, Lowell 2B-CF {NA}. Another 2018 draftee on our list. Duran was drafted by Boston in the seventh round out of Long Beach State.  Duran has plus-plus speed, something lacking in the Sox system.  Duran played second base in college, but is not considered a top defender and could be moved to center field by the Sox.  Duran has used his speed to rain down triples in the New York-Penn League, including a pair (plus a double)in his pro debut.

Some other names that were considered:

Chase Shugart, RHP 12th round draftee for Texas Longhorns
Jhonathan Diaz , LHP
Chad De la Guerra, SS

 On July 2, the period for signing international players opened.  Next month these lists may have a name or two from that crop of players.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

RSM Top 25 Red Sox Prospects - June 2018 Edition

Since we last ranked the Red Sox farmhands at the beginning of the season, a number of things have happened to the players on that ranking.  Almost all of it has been bad.  A handful of the Red Sox prospects have had a good two months to start 2018, but they have been the exception.  The myriad of issues range from Jay Groome undergoing Tommy John Surgery to Michael Chavis still in the midst of an 80 game suspension to poor performances by both of the 2017 top draftees.  All of this turmoil has caused much shuffling in our rankings, as you will see.  In addition pitchers Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez have graduated from prospect status.

The slash line used for the hitters is HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS.

For pitchers the line is W-L/ERA/K-BB/WHIP

The number behind the player in { } is the April ranking, and the team listed is the player's assignment as of June 1.

1. Jalen Beeks, LHP Pawtucket {6}.  A combination of the issues surrounding Groome and Chavis along with Beeks' outstanding AAA season so far, makes the former Razorback the top current Red Sox prospect. A line of 3-3/2.57/80-14/0.98 in ten starts.  His 80 K's lead the International League and the Red Sox system.  Steven Wright is currently the "sixth starter" in Boston with Velazquez and Johnson also in waiting.  But if Beeks continues to dazzle at AAA do not be surprised if he get at least a spot start for Boston soon.

2. Michael Chavis, 1B-3B Portland {2}.  Nothing new on Chavis.  He is still more than a month from his suspension ending and then working himself back into playing shape.  He only hangs on to his second spot on this list due to the possibility Chavis could make an appearance in Boston in late August or September.

3. Mike Shawaryn, RHP Portland {7}. Shawaryn is making his AA debut two years after being drafted and has had a solid Sea Dogs season so far. In ten starts his line is 2-5/3.67/51-14/1.12.  His strikeout rate is lower than 2017 when Shawaryn had one of the top totals in all of minor league baseball, but still a strong K to walk ratio.  Shawaryn could reach Pawtucket before 2018 is out.

4. Josh Ockimey, 1B Portland {9}.  The power hitting Ockimey has had among the best offensive season by any top Red Sox prospect, certainly the best among AA/AAA batters.  Not only has Ockimey hit 7 homers and 26 RBI with a BA of .273, but his OBP is .379 and OPS of .855. In 2017, Ockimey was promoted to Portland on August 1. With another solid month, Josh could be looking at another promotion, this time to AAA.

5. Bryan Mata, RHP Salem {4}.  Mata has had just an okay line 3-2/3.52/23-27/1.66 in eight starts for Salem.  But Mata's numbers (and the 3.52 ERA is pretty good on it's own) need to be looked at through the prism of his age.  Mata turned 19 a month ago on May 3.

6. Bobby Dalbec, 3B Salem {10}. Dalbec is another batter having a strong 2018.  Or is he?  Dalbec is hitting just .213 with a bushel of strikeouts.  But he also has ten home runs, a dozen doubles and has an OBP of .345 through June 1. The ten home runs are all the more impressive because the Salem Sox home park is not a hitters park at all. For example Mookie Betts hit seven home runs while playing in Salem, Rafael Devers hit seven in an entire season and Andrew Benintendi hit one. Dalbec has cut down on his strikeouts of late, so maybe he can be more than an all or nothing home run hitter.  Not that an all or nothing home run hitter cannot make the big leagues these days.

7. Sam Travis, 1B Pawtucket {3}.  For the second year in a row, Travis had a brilliant spring with the big club and then when assigned to AAA, his season fell flat.  Through June 1. Sam is hitting only .220 with an OBP of .290. Travis has hit lefties at a much better clip but has been awful versus right handers.  On June 2 Travis was recalled to Boston due to injuries to Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia. If Travis cannot turn his season around with the cameo in Boston, he will soon hear Josh Ockimey's footsteps coming for the Paw Sox first sacker job.

8. CJ Chatham, SS Salem {13}.  One of the successful seasons so far by a Sox farmhand has pushed CJ into the top ten.  The 2016 second round pick, had basically his entire 2017 wiped out by injury.  Chatham began 2018 in Greenville, where he had been scheduled to begin last year.  A fast start pushed CJ up to Salem.  As of June 1st, Chatham had exactly 75 at bats at both Greenville and Salem.  His Greenville line was: 0/9/.307/.329/.742 with six doubles and a triple.  For Salem CJ has totaled: 2/12/.333/.367/.820 with three two baggers.

9. Tanner Houck, RHP Salem {5}. Last year's first round pick for Boston has struggled mightily in his first full pro season at High A Salem: 2-6/6.04/32-33/1.88.  Bad numbers across the board, as Houck reportedly is having his pitch mix altered from his college two seam fastball to a four seamer. As Houck becomes more accustomed to the new fastball, it will be very interesting to see if his second half of 2018 is better.

10. Jason Groome, LHP Greenville {1}.  The top ranked Sox prospect to begin the season was placed on the DL at the beginning of '18.  Groome had not pitched since spring training when in May it was announced he needed Tommy John Surgery. It was tempting to leave Groome at the top of this list because he is still the player with the highest ceiling on this list.  But with the timing of his TJ operation, Groome is very likely not to pitch in a regular season minor league game until 2020. This being based on a standard recovery time of 12-18 months.

11. Alex Scherff, RHP Greenville {11}.  The Texas high school fireballer began his pro career this year at Greenville and he has struggled: 1-4/5.58/28-18/1.39 in nine games.  But his most recent start was by far his best,  six innings of one run ball.  This continued a marked improvement since April ended.  In roughly 17 innings each month, in April Scherff's ERA was 9.35 and WHIP of 1.90.  But in May (before the last good start) his ERA of 3.71 with a WHIP of 1.00.  With Groome on the shelf, it is possible Scherff may emerge as the best young hurler Boston has.

12. Bobby Poyner, LHP Pawtucket {15}.  Poyner has been riding the Boston-Pawtucket shuttle since opening the season with Boston.  His numbers in the major leagues are actually better, with an ERA of 1.86 in 9 2/3 innings.  On June 2, Poyner was recalled again to Boston.

13. Roneil Raudes, RHP Salem {14}.  At age 20, Raudes is spending his second season in Salem, and he has had a decent season so far: 2-4/3.65/31-18/1.53 in nine starts.  If an opening should arise in Portland rotation, it is likely Raudes would be first in line for the promotion.

14. Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP Salem {8}. A strong 2017 had pushed Hernandez into the preseason top ten.  But his 2018 for Salem has been mediocre: 3-2/4.34/36-26/1.42 in ten games. A stronger remainder of the season could still keep Hermandez on the ascent in the Sox system.

15. Tzu-Wei Lin, Utility Pawtucket {16}.  Lin has split his season between Pawtucket and Boston.  Lin while hitting .188 for Boston in 32 at bats, is having a fine AAA season hitting .271 with an OBP of .340 with three home runs.  Lin's versatility defensively still makes him a candidate to help in Boston again before 2018 is over.

16. Brett Netzer, 2B Salem {24}. The 2017 draftee takes a big step up the rankings with one of the  strong offensive performances of early 2018.  1/23/.287/.342/.710 with nine doubles and a triple.

17. Danny Diaz, 3B DSL Red Sox.  The Dominican Summer League began play in June and in his second pro at bat Diaz hit a home run. The very highly regarded member of the 2017 class of international signees, could move up these rankings rapidly once he gets more DSL games under his belt.

18. Jhonathan Diaz, LHP Salem {NR}. The lefty from Venezuela makes his debut on the RSM rankings.  Diaz signed in July 2013 and has made a slow, steady progression up the Red Sox ladder.  Diaz has made stop at the DSL, GCL, Lowell, Greenville, and now Salem.  The smallish Diaz likely projects as a reliever, and in ten games this season has 58 strikeouts with only 18 walks.

19. Santiago Espinal 2B-SS Salem {NR}. Another first timer for the RSM rankings. Espinal has had another of the outstanding 2018 to date. 6/25/.287/.357/.848with eight doubles and a trio of triples.  Espinal was drafted in 2016 in the tenth round from Miami Dade CC South.  Espinal and /or CJ Chatham could be looking at a promotion to AA by July.

20. Travis Lakins, RHP Portland {25}. The fortunes of Travis Lakins may have taken an upswing near the beginning of June, when the Red Sox organization moved him from the Portland rotation to the Sea Dogs bullpen.  Lakins had been making three inning appearances while starting. Lakins  was being brought back from right elbow stress fractures, which ended both this '16 and '17 campaigns.  Lakins may be groomed as a bullpen "stopper", a multi inning bullpen specialist.  If Lakins takes to this his path to the big leagues could be much shorter.

21. Chandler Shepherd, RHP Pawtucket {NR}. Shepherd made the RSM rankings in previous years as a bullpen artist.  In the past off season the Red Sox converted Shepherd to a starting pitcher in winter ball.  Chandler has continued in Pawtucket's rotation during 2018. The product of the University of Kentucky has a line of 3-4/4.24/45-14/1.39 in nine games The strikeout to walk ratio shows promise for Shepherd as a starter.

22. Ty Buttrey, RHP Pawtucket {NR}. Ty has bounced in and out of the RSM top prospects list since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft.  This season Buttrey has an ERA of 2.86 with 35 strikeouts only 22 innings pitched out of the Paw Sox bullpen.

23. Chad De La Guerra, IF Portland {23}. De La Guerra began 2018 with Pawtucket and failed in his AAA debut, hitting only .137 in 73 at bats. Chad, was sent back to Portland and has dominated the Eastern League: 4/16/.340/.425/.940.

24. Jake Thompson, RHP Salem {19}.  The 2017 fourth rounder from Oregon State has struggled at times with Salem with an ERA of 4.64.  But Thompson has 43 K's against 19 walks. Considering this is Thompson's first full pro season and it is at High A, there is still plenty of promise here.

25. Cole Brannen, OF XST {12}.  The Red Sox assigned their second round pick from last year's draft, from a Florida high school,  to Greenville to begin 2018.  Brannen failed the test and showed he was not ready for the South Atlantic League: 0/7/.157.246/.451.  Brannen was reassigned to the extended spring training camp on May 21, with the expectation he will join the Lowell Spinners when their season begins in mid-June.

Here are a few other names considered for this list:

Cole Sturgeon, OF Pawtucket
Rolandi Baldwin, C Salem
Joan Martinez, RHP Salem
Kutter Crawford, RHP Greenville
Kyle Hart, LHP Portland
Pedro Castellanos, 1B Greenville
Kervin Suarez, 2b Greenville
Tate Matheny, OF Portland
Antoni Flores, SS DSL
Austin Maddox, RHP Pawtucket

One last note which will effect our next rankings.  The MLB draft is June 4.  The conventional wisdom is the Red Sox will look for college players for their early picks ( 26, 64, 100).  Some names to look for on draft night at 26:

Steele Walker, OF Univ. Oklahoma
Seth Beer, 1B-OF-DH Clemson
Ryan Rolison, LHP Ole Miss

and a couple of high school possibilites:

Brice Turang, SS
Triston Casas, OF

Next time expect to see some of the 2018 draftees joining our rankings.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

RSM Top 25 Red Sox Prospects- April 2018

Another season of major league and minor league baseball is underway.  And with the new season here, it is time to again review the top prospects in the Red Sox system.  Right off the top you may notice a change in the name of the post, that is itself a bit of a commentary of the Sox organization.  In the past RSM has ranked a top 30 or even 40 prospects.  Currently by all accounts the Sox no longer are one of the top systems in all of MLB.  Not to say there are not highly regarded players still to be watched, there are plenty of them. And the move to 25 is by no means permanent. Once we get a month or two of game action and stats in 2018, the list likely will expand.

One other topic we must address before moving on to the new rankings for 2018 is Daniel Flores.   Flores, rated at #4 on our last rankings, was signed out of Venezuela last July for $3.1 million dollars at age 16.  Flores was participating in last October's instructional league and felt some lower back pain.  He was flown to Boston for examination and on October 28 was diagnosed with a very rare, aggressive form of testicular cancer. Less than two weeks later on November 8th, Daniel passed away at age 17.  Such an unthinkable tragedy.

On the new list for April the number after each payer in { } is their ranking last September.  The team listed is their assignment to begin 2018.

1. Jay Groome- LHP. XST {1}.  Groome ended his up and down 2017 season on the DL with a flexor strain in his left, pitching arm.  Groome had an upbeat off-season highlighted by having regular workout sessions with Sox ace Chris Sale.  Sale and Groome both live in South Florida in the winter and Sale reached out to Groome.  Groome also had a successful spring training, but at the end of camp, when assignments were being made it was announced Groome was again dealing with a mild flexor strain in his left arm.  The official word is the strain is mild and Groome should soon be on his way to Greenville. Hopefully that turns out to be true, a strong early season pitching for the Drive should lead to a mid season promotion to Salem.  But first Jay has to show he can stay healthy.

2. Michael Chavis- 1B-3B, Portland {2}.  More travails at the top of our rankings come from Michael Chavis. Chavis had exploded offensively in 2017 for both Salem and Portland. This performance earned Chavis an invite to Red Sox camp for the spring.  But Chavis missed all of the games due to an oblique injury, then came the real bombshell.  Chavis was suspended by MLB for 80 games due to failing a test for steroid use. So his 2018 season will not commence until early July or so.  Chavis claims to be unsure how the banned substance got into his body, perhaps a dietary supplement he ingested.  Either way, not only will he miss a half a season or more of development, but he will need to put up numbers when he does return.  Because unless Chavis continues to rake, his 2017 numbers will come under a cloud of suspicion of being steroid induced numbers.

3. Sam Travis, 1B- Pawtucket {3}.  2018 should be a very pivotal season  for Sam Travis' future with the Boston Red Sox.  Again this spring, Travis had a very big offensive output for the big club.  This year, Sam also added the home run to his arsenal.  There has never been any doubt of Travis' ability to hit big league pitching, but there is a doubt if he can hit enough home runs to hold down first base for a contending club.  So the first part of the two part riddle of Travis' future in Boston starts with his need to continue his spring power outburst at AAA. The second part is where does he fit in on Boston's current roster.  Unless there is an injury to Hanley Ramirez, Mitch Moreland, or JD Martinez it is hard to see an open spot.  And even with an injury involving the 1B/DH/LF spots, there is a good chance Blake Swihart would get the at bats rather than Travis.  Sam Travis will be a good big league hitter, it may just not be with Boston.

4. Bryan Mata- RHP, Salem {5}. At the age of 18, Mata is eight months younger than any other Carolina League player.  And to show that does not bother him in the least, Mata began his 2018 by throwing five scoreless innings in his first start.  Mata was signed by Boston out of Venezuela in January of 2016, and in basically two years has reached high A.  Last year for the Drive, Mata struck out 74 in 77 innings pitched.  Mata is listed at 6'3" 160, which means he should have more filling out of his frame to go.  It is not impossible he reaches Portland at age 19, before 2018 is over.

5. Tanner Houck- RHP, Salem {7}.  The 2017 first round draft choice from the University of Missouri, pitched just 22.1 innings for Lowell after signing.  But in another aggressive placement by Boston, Houck jumps over Greenville and begins his first full pro season at High A Salem.  Houck will join a loaded Salem Sox rotation, as a spoiler alert we will meet the entire rotation in our top 20.

6. Jalen Beeks- LHP, Pawtucket {9}.  Although the majority of our top 12 prospects are pitchers, the one who is by far the closest to helping Boston this year is Beeks.  Jalen reached AAA for the first time during the 2017 campaign.  After dominating the EL with a 2.19 ERA, Beeks pitched solidly for the Pawsox as well throwing 95 innings with 97 K's and a 3.86 ERA.  Currently Beeks likely ranks about the fourth option behind the Sox starting five ( Wright, Johnson, Velazquez ahead of him), but depending on the timing if/when a need arises for a spot starter, Beeks could be in the discussion.

7. Mike Shawaryn- RHP, Portland {8}. Shawaryn, a fifth rounder draftee from Maryland in 2016, makes his AA debut to begin 2018.  In his first full pro season in 2017, Shawaryn split the year between Greenville and Salem.  In 150 innings pitched in the two stops, Shawaryn compiled 169 strikeouts. That was the fourth highest K total for any Class A pitcher in baseball last year.

8. Darwinzon Hernandez- LHP, Salem {16}. The 21 year old lefty pitched all of 2017 for Greenville.  He hurled 103 innings and posted 116 strikeouts. Another of Boston's numerous international signees from Venezuela, Hernandez blossomed last year after two seasons in the Dominican Summer League and a year at Lowell. A strong 2018 could put Hernandez near the front of the next wave of Sox pitching prospects, if he isn't there all ready.

9. Josh Ockimey- 1B, Portland {6}.  The power hitting first sacker made his AA debut midway through last season.  Josh got into 31 games for the Sea Dogs and hit .272 with three home runs.  Ockimey begins 2018 on the DL with what is considered a minor injury and expects to be in the Portland line up soon.

10. Bobby Dalbec- 3B, Salem {10}.  Dalbec's up and down career in the Red Sox system took a down turn in '17. He was on the DL for the Drive from May 11 to July 11 with a hamate bone injury.  But Dalbec, taken from the University of Arizona in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, has off the charts raw power.  Dalbec hopes to stay healthy and continue to hit the long balls in 2018.

11. Alex Scherff- RHP, Greenville [13}. Yet another aggressive assignment to begin 2018. Scherff was signed last summer by Boston out of a Colleysville, Texas High School.  Scherff was considered a first or second round talent with signability issues.  This caused Scherff to drop to the fifth round.  Scherff was assigned to the GCL Red Sox after signing, but did not pitch in any game in 2017.

12. Cole Brannen- OF, Greenville {11}. Last year's second round draft pick will begin his first full pro season with the Drive.  Brannen played last year with the GCL Red Sox , plus three games with Lowell. Brannen is a speedy runner and is the kind of player who is projected to be both a good hitter  and runner.  A strong 2018 could bring Brannen to the top of the offensive prospects on this list.

13. CJ Chatham-SS, Greenville {15}. Like Brannen, Chatham is a recent second round draft pick(2016).  Chatham, out of Florida Atlantic, had less than 20 at bats in all of 2017 due to injury. Chatham needs to have a full, healthy season of playing time to solidify his standing as the top middle infielder in the system.

14. Roniel Raudes-RHP, Salem {14}. Raudes pitched all of 2017 at Salem at age 19, starting 23 games.  Raudes returns to Salem this year, but with full year at High A already  on his resume and all of the strong starting pitching at Salem, a strong early season could get Roniel promoted to Hadlock Field.

15. Bobby Poyner- LHP, Boston {32}. Poyner was a non roster invitee to Red Sox training camp.  And he just kept getting batters out. In the biggest surprise of the spring, Poyner impressed new manager Alex Cora and his staff enough to make the team out of camp. A large majority of Red Sox Nation did not know much abut Poyner. But Portland Sea Dogs fans certainly knew about Poyner. Bobby joined the Dogs mid way through 2017 from Salem.  In 27 AA games Poyner compiled nine saves and an ERA of 0.94.

16. Tzu-Wei Lin-SS, Pawtucket-Boston{17}. Lin was in a spring training battle for the utility role with Boston with Brock Holt and Deven Marrero. Holt won the job and Marrero was traded to Arizona, Lin sent back to AAA. When Xander Bogaerts went on the DL in early April, Lin was recalled.  Lin, who is an outstanding defensive player, hit .268 in his big league debut for Boston in 2017. if Lin continues to show he can hit big league pitching at even that rate, he can be an asset to this Red Sox team.

17. Brian Johnson- LHP, Boston {12}.  Johnson is now out of minor league options, so he will spend all of 2018 with Boston or will need to be dealt.  Johnson began this season in the Boston rotation due to injuries to Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz.  But ERod missed only one start, so Johnson has moved to the bullpen.

18. Hector Velazquez- RHP. Boston {29}. Like Brian Johnson, Velazquez began 2018 in the Boston rotation due to injuries.  But unlike Johnson, Hector does have options left, so despite pitching very effectively for the big club, Velazquez is likely to ride the shuttle between Boston and Rhode Island all year long.

19. Jake Thompson- RHP, Salem {23}.  Thompson is yet another member of the Salem Red Sox pitching staff, the fifth in the top 19 players.  And yet again, another aggressive placement by Boston.  Jake was drafted last June in the fourth round out of Oregon State.  After signing, Thompson pitched in seven games for only eleven innings for Lowell.

20. Danny Diaz- 3B- DSL {19}.  Along with the late Daniel Flores, Diaz was considered one of the top members of last year's international free agent class. Diaz was signed as a shortstop, but is expected to play third base in the pros, beginning this summer in the Dominican Summer League. Diaz is projected to be a power hitter.

21. Pedro Castellanos- 1B, Greenville {NR}. A newcomer to our list, Castellanos was signed in July 2015 out of Venezuela.  All Pedro has done since the signing is hit. In 116 minor league games, in the DSL, GCL, and NYP League, Castellanos combined average is .332. So far Pedro only has five home runs, but is expected to develop power.  Defensively only first base (or DH) is in his future, so the hitting will need to continue.

22. Joan Martinez- RHP, Salem {NR}. The second newcomer to our rankings is also the sixth member of the Salem pitching staff.  Martinez was signed in January 2016 out of the Dominican Republic.  Since his signing, Martinez has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen. And how he has pitched.  In 37 games for the DSL Sox, Lowell, and Greenville his ERA was 1.48, with 57 strikeout in 61 innings.  Martinez makes his High A debut at age 21.

23. Chad de La Guerra- SS, Pawtucket {24}.  Not selected until the 17th round of the 2015 draft, after an invite to Red Sox spring camp, De La Guerra has made it to AAA in less than three years after that draft.  Chad reached Portland mid way through last season and hit .270 for the SeaDogs.

24. Brett Netzer- 2B,  Salem {18}.  Drafted last year in the third round from UNC-Charlotte, Netzer will begin his first full pro season at Salem.  In 2017, Netzer hit .286 splitting the campaign between Lowell and Greenville.

25. Travis Lakins-RHP, Portland. {21}.  Lakins was drafted in 2015 out of Ohio State and less than two years later had advanced to AA.  But at the moment pitching talent is not the question for Lakins.  He will begin 2018 on the disabled list rehabbing from the same issue which has ended each of his last two seasons.  That injury is a stress fracture in his pitching elbow.  If this injury does not recur again, Lakins could move quickly up the chain.  But the type of injury it is and the fact it has happened more than once is certainly concerning.

Before we go, one more name to mention, This is not a new name for the RSM rankings, he has spend many, many months here.  It is lefty pitcher Trey Ball.  This season the Red Sox have moved him into the Portland bullpen.  Through last year Trey had appeared in exactly 100 minor league games with an ERA of 4.67. 99 of those appearances were starts.  In the early accounts from April, Ball's bullpen stints have been spectacular, with an overpowering fastball and throwing nearly all strikes.  More work is to be done, but could Trey Ball reach Boston's bullpen this year? Something to keep an eye on.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Cousin Jason's 2018 Predictions

AL East
Boston- Two-time defending AL East Champs will make it three in a row, Cora, Cora, Cora!
*New York- The next chapter in the storied rivalry is here, paper champs can’t catch Sox though
Tampa Bay- D’Rays play feisty ball in hopes of getting support to build a new ballpark, if you can call the Trop a ballpark
Toronto- The Jays avoid the cellar thanks to strong 2nd half once they turn to their youth
Baltimore- Bad baseball played at Camden Yards, but hey kids under 9 get to watch for free

AL Central
Cleveland- Indians are as fine as Lindor Chocolate’s
Minnesota- Twins are improved on paper, pitching staff unfortunately folds like it too
Chicago- Watch out for the South 2020
Detroit- Tigers grow under Gardenhire’s leadership
Kansas City- Royals will regret not selling in 2017

AL West
Houston- Defending Champs showing no signs of being a one and done
**Los Angeles- Angels swim upstream in hopes of getting Trout to the post-season
Seattle- Mariners are 6th best team in AL, too bad only 5 go to the playoffs
Oakland- A’s plan to build a roster a la the Indians hits a snag, when they realize it was the team in Major League
Texas- Rangers wither in the Texas heat

Post Season
Wildcard Game: Yankees win slugfest in the Bronx over the Angels
ALDS: Red Sox sweep Indians, Astros over Yankees in 6
ALCS: Red Sox over Astros in 7

AL Awards
MVP Francisco Lindor, Cleveland
Manager AJ Hinch, Houston
ROY Willie Calhoun, Texas
HR Champion Khris Davis, Oakland 47
Comeback Matt Duffy, Tampa Bay

NL East
Washington- Nationals are so much better than the rest of the division, they might wrap up title by trade deadline
New York- Mets arms thrive under Mickey Callaway
Philadelphia- Phillies are going to be good again, not good enough in 2018
Atlanta- Braves youth movement challenges Phillies and Mets but falls short
Miami- Marlins reminiscent of Yankees pre-Jeter
NL Central
Milwaukee- Brewers Lite up division with great taste and less filling
**Chicago- Cubs use Maddon-ing push to get back to October
St. Louis- Cards are a model of consistency, but it’s not enough in 2018
Cincinnati- Reds find a way to beat out the Pirates
Pittsburgh- Pirates scuffle to basement

NL West
Arizona- D’Backs are Lovullo-ing it!
*Los Angeles- Dodgers experience garners Wild Card
San Francisco- Giants improved offense moves them out of the cellar
Colorado- Rockies succumb to thin air
San Diego- It could be worse for Eric Hosmer, he could still be in KC

Post Season
Wildcard Game Jon Lester pitches Cubs over Dodgers
NLDS: Nationals over Cubs in 6, Arizona sweeps Milwaukee
NLCS: Arizona over Nationals in 7

NL Awards
MVP Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
Cy Young Max Scherzer, Washington
Manager Craig Counsell, Milwaukee
ROY Lewis Brinson, Miami
HR Champion Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia 43
Comeback Matt Harvey, New York

World Series: Red Sox new regime faces off against the Diamondbacks and the former heir to the throne, in a 7 game series the Boston 9 comes out victorious

Brandon's MLB Predictions 2018

AL East -
1. NY Yankees - In recent years, teams that have had praise heaped on them and anointed pennants before the first pitches are thrown have not faired very well. I enjoy seeing every pundit picking the Yanks as a shoo-in for October, so I’ll join them here. Why not? It’s not like their stud acquisition has only played 125 games 3 of the 8 years of his career. Or have a first time manager who might have charisma, but when he looks at Aroldis Chapman on the mound in a tight September game, will Chapman listen to him? Will Aaron Judge be hitting .175 on May 1? Tanaka’s elbow ligament definitely won’t stop hanging by a thread for three years and come flying off his body. There’s no way this could go wrong. 
2. Boston - The Sox beat out the Twins, Jays, Orioles, Mariners, and Angels to host the wild card game. Remember just how good Chris Sale was last season. An improved young and hungry offense. It’s going to be a fun summer battling the other best teams in the AL. 
3. Toronto - The Jays are in it right down to the last day of the regular season, losing out to the Twins by a game. The Blue Jays have underperformed high expectations for years, but now those expectations are coming down while most of their exceptional talent still remains. They will be a tough out.
4. Baltimore - It’s hard to imagine Buck Showalter managing a team that is going to start a full on tank job and rebuild in a post Manny Machado world. So I think the Orioles either fire him and Dan Duquette and really start over, or they go all in on one last ride in 2018 and try to get Manny to resign in a free agency market that is suddenly unstable. Their bullpen is still the second best in the AL east, and that Machado, Scoop, Davis, Jones, Mancini, Trumbo core is still a tough lineup to get through. If Bundy and Gausman finally have a good year together, why not the birds? 
5. Tampa Bay - They find ways to win and outperform their projections every year down in Tampa. So it feels weird predicting them to crater to the bottom of the league, but their roster just doesn’t stack up to the rest of the East. I see them losing 100+ games and trading every one they can.

AL Central -
1. Cleveland - The class of the AL Central by far.
2. Minnesota - They get the 2nd AL wild card on the last day of the season over the Blue Jays
3. Chicago - The team that has a bad record but is fun to watch play all season long. Look out in 2019-2020
4. Kansas City - With one hot streak or two there’s still enough here to hang on for a while in a weak Central, but they could also have a fire sale
5. Detroit - speaking of fire sale, the Tigers have a strong case as the worst roster situation in the AL

AL West -
1. Houston - WS champs add a full season of Verlander and another year of maturity for the Altuve, Correa, Springer, Bregman core. 100+ wins.
2. Seattle - One of these years the Mariners are going to put it together and make the playoffs. Not this year. Miss out on 2nd wild card by a game or two.
3. LA Angels - As fearsome as their lineup is, and no matter how stout their infield defense is, their rotation will fall completely apart by Memorial Day and their bullpen is subpar to boot.
4. Oakland - Led by Olson & Chapman (good law firm name, or maybe a leather jacket company?), they stick around in the WC race until the deadline, then deal and play for 2019
5. Texas - Their rotation is awful, they got old in a hurry, and their prospects have consistently underperformed.

AL Playoffs
Wildcard game -  Boston over Minnesota
Divisional Series -  Boston over Houston
Cleveland over NY Yankees

ALCS - Cleveland over Boston

AL Manager of the Year - Paul Molitor

AL Rookie of the Year - Willie Calhoun

AL Cy Young - Chris Sale

AL MVP - Mike Trout

NL East 
1. Washington - replacing Dusty Baker with Dave Martinez is the biggest replacement in Washington since Rex Tillerson was replaced with Mike Pompeo. Luckily for Nats fans, the manager swap will work out much better.
2. NY Mets - Those pitchers!
3. Philadelphia - They’re a year away
4. Atlanta - They’re two years away
5. Miami - They’re a decade away

NL Central
1. Chicago - The Cubs’ pitching isn’t quite what it once was, but they’re still loaded
2. Brewers - The Brew Crew can rake. If their rotation comes along, look out. I’ve got them winning the 2nd NL wildcard
3. St. Louis - Don’t know much about the Cardinals, but I still like this Nelly song
4. Pittsburgh - This is what happens when your run of can’t-miss prospects end up missing
5. Cincinnati - The ghost of Marge Schott sends this team to the cellar

NL West
1. Los Angeles - A boring pick, but hard to go against all that talent. And Dave Roberts
2. Arizona - Our old friend Torey Lovullo goes two-for-two in making the playoffs as a manager
3. Colorado - The Rox compete but come up short of a wildcard
4. San Francisco - Their run of even year dominance is all overweigh
5. San Diego - Hey, they have Eric Hosmer now. 

NL Playoffs
Wildcard game - Brewers over Diamondbacks

NLDS - Brewers over Dodgers
Nationals over Cubs

NLCS - Nationals over Brewers

NL Manager of the Year - Dave Martinez

NL Rookie of the Year - Ronald Acuna

NL Cy Young - Noah Syndergaard

NL MVP - Bryce Harper

WORLD SERIES - Nationals over Indians - The Nationals bring a title home to D.C. while the Indians come up just short again.