Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Red Sox All Star Prospectus 2016

Welcome our annual Red Sox All-Star Prospectus! MLB released its most recent update (#4) for the American League this afternoon, making it a perfect time to publish our annual prognostications.

Let’s begin this 4th edition of the RSM Prospectus with a bit of history, this exercise really began many years ago, even before the Internet existed! In those days, the Maineiacs, led by a 30-something Deacon, would spend an afternoon projecting the rosters for the all-star game while watching the Sox on WSBK simulcast on WLBZ, this was also before we had cable TV at our meeting spot, usually the living room of Annie and Chester. I’m not sure that we ever got our projects to actually match the rosters, but it was always a memorable experience and gave us younger Maineiacs a chance to do some stat searching in The Sporting News. Certainly, the task of looking at stats and coming up with projections are much easier and instantaneous today, although it is not nearly as much fun as those childhood experiences. Enough sentimentality, onto the Prospectus.

34 players will represent the American League on July 12th in San Diego for this year’s Mid-Summer Classic. In verifying that the roster size was indeed 34 players, my brain is still convinced that it is 32, I found the player selection section from the Wikipedia entry on Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be very concise and informative in its explanation of the process, take a look for yourself. Remember each team must have a representative, the fans select the starters and the final player. Players choose part of the roster while the manager (Ned Yost) will select the rest of the roster. The “I learned something new today” for me from the article was that the roster consists of 21 position players and 13 pitchers, so this is a new parameter that we will use this year (for the record, the last 3 RSM Prospectus’ have had 13, 12, and 12 pitchers named). OK, enough context, onto the All-Stars!

C Salvador Perez, Kansas City
Perez is very much in line to start his 2nd consecutive ASG as well as currently being the top overall vote getter. The fans have this one absolutely correct, as Sal is far and away the best catcher in the AL, if not all of baseball, as he leads AL backstops in nearly every offense category along with his tremendous defense and game management.
1B Eric Hosmer, Kansas City
Hosmer looks to be heading to his first All-Star appearance. With only 9 days left for fans to vote, the Royals 1st Baseman leads Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera by more than 500,000 votes. While Cabrera probably has better overall numbers than Hosmer, this is not an egregious fan vote as Hosmer is deserving of the nod as he ranks near the top in most offensive categories amongst AL 1st Basemen.
2B Jose Altuve, Houston
Altuve, like Salvador Perez, is also in line to start his 2nd consecutive ASG with a lead of more than 600,000 votes over the Mariners’ Robinson Cano. Altuve is one of many worthy candidates at the keystone position, including Cano, Detroit’s Ian Kinsler, and Boston’s Dustin Pedroia among others. It is safe to say someone is going to get snubbed at this position.
3B Manny Machado, Baltimore
Machado, while he has played more games at shortstop than 3B for the Orioles in 2016, looks like a sure thing to be the starting 3rd Baseman for the AL with a lead of more than 500,000 votes over last year’s top vote getter, Toronto’s Josh Donaldson. Machado is one of the best young talents in baseball and is deserving of the nod.
SS Xander Bogaerts, Boston
X got snubbed in last year’s All-Star game after losing out to Mike Moustakas in the final player vote is not going to be denied this year. Bogaerts has picked up where 2015 ended as a hitting machine who plays excellent defense up the middle, all of that has led to being the 4th highest vote getter to date and a lead of more than 1 million votes over KC’s Alcides Escobar. Xander can solidify his plans to meet up with old friend Don Orsillo in San Diego in a couple weeks.
LF Mike Trout, Los Angeles
CF Jackie Bradley Jr, Boston
RF Mookie Betts, Boston
The outfield positions are always a close vote. Trout is a lock as he is one of the poster boys for MLB and the 3rd highest vote getter, this would mark his 4th consecutive ASG start. The pair of Sox OFers are in a voting race for the final 2 starting spots, as they along with KC’s Lorenzo Cain, Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo, and Toronto’s Jose Bautista are within 425,000 votes of each other. Currently, Bradley and Betts are 2nd and 3rd among AL outfielders but Cain and Bautista have voting history on their side as each have been wildly popular among fans especially fan bases that love to stuff the ballot box. If any of the 3 non Sox listed have chances to overtake the JBJ and Mookie in the last 9 days of voting it is Cain and Bautista (who is currently on the DL). Let’s get to the voting booths Sox Nation and make all 3 of the B boys make it to San Diego.
DH David Ortiz, Boston
Big Papi has a big lead in the DH voting, leading by nearly 1.8 million votes. Ortiz is having arguably his greatest season in a Sox uniform on his final ride, what better way to celebrate the big man than by sending him to his 10th all-star game. Of course, a 4th World Series title would be better but let’s not put the cart before the horse.

C Stephen Vogt, Oakland and Matt Wieters, Baltimore
Brian McCann, New York
Overall, the catching position in the AL is sub-par. After Perez, Vogt and Wieters are the next best offensive catchers although a nod to Brian McCann as the lone Yankee might be in the cards.
1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Chris Davis, Baltimore, Hanley Ramirez, Boston, Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto, Jose Abreu, Chicago, Mike Napoli, Cleveland
As we mentioned in the starters section, a strong case can be made for Cabrera as the best AL 1B and his selection is not in doubt. This is a spot where we could find another All-Star being selected perhaps at the cost of a 3rd catcher, however with Vogt and to come Mark Trumbo being selected with the ability to play 1st base we’ll stick with taking just Miggy.
2B Robinson Cano, Seattle and Ian Kinsler, Detroit
Dustin Pedroia, Boston, Rougned Odor, Texas, Jason Kipnis, Cleveland, Starlin Castro, New York, Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore
As we mentioned above a deserving All-Star is going to get snubbed at 2nd just based on shear volume. Any of the listed 2nd Basemen would be deserving although Castro might be a stretch. However, Cano and Kinsler are putting up the best numbers of the bunch with Pedey probably being the next closest.
3B Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay and Josh Donaldson, Toronto
Nick Castellanos, Detroit, Travis Shaw, Boston, Todd Frazier, Chicago, Kyle Seager, Seattle, Adrian Beltre, Texas, Yunel Escobar, Los Angeles, Danny Valencia, Oakland
3rd base also features many worthy candidates but we’ll take 2 from the AL East with Longoria currently on a tear perhaps sealing the lone Rays All-Star spot and last year AL MVP.
SS Eduardo Nunez, Minnesota and Franciso Lindor, Cleveland
Alcides Escobar, Kansas City, Elvis Andrus, Texas, Didi Gregorius, New York, Carlos Correa, Houston
Nunez is the most deserving Twin and will most likely be their lone representative. This is another position where the actual roster may differ from our picks as it would not be a shock to see Lindor left off the roster for a different shortstop or another 1B or OFer.
OF Mark Trumbo, Baltimore, Ian Desmond, Texas, and Carlos Beltran, New York
Michael Saunders, Toronto, Melky Cabrera, Chicago, Khris Davis, Oakland, Jacoby Ellsbury, New York, Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City, Adam Eaton, Chicago, Jose Bautista, Toronto, JD Martinez, Detroit, Nomar Mazara, Texas, Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles, George Springer, Houston
Trumbo as we mentioned is in the mix to possibly start on July 12th as he has had an outstanding 1st half. Desmond has also been a tremendous off-season signing and should be rewarded for his play with a trip to San Diego, his ability to play SS may allow for more roster flexibility too. Lastly, we’ll take Beltran as possibly the lone Yankee although their vaunted bullpen arms might find their way onto the roster as America knows how Ned Yost loves power arms out of the pen.
DH None
Victor Martinez, Detroit, Nelson Cruz, Seattle
Both of these hitters have had solid first halves to their seasons, however their lack of flexibility in the field probably keeps them off the roster.

Steven Wright, Boston, Craig Kimbrel, Boston, Chris Tillman, Baltimore, Zach Britton, Baltimore, Aroldis Chapman, New York, Alex Colome, Tampa Bay, Wade Davis, Kansas City, Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City, Danny Salazar, Cleveland, Chris Sale, Chicago, Cole Hamels, Texas, Colby Lewis, Texas, and Rich Hill, Oakland
Rick Porcello, Boston, David Price, Boston, Brad Brach, Baltimore, JA Happ, Toronto, Marco Estrada, Toronto, Aaron Sanchez, Toronto, Roberto Osuna, Toronto, CC Sabathia, New York, Masahiro Tanaka, New York, Andrew Miller, New York, Dellin Betances, New York, Edinson Volquez, Kansas City, Danny Duffy, Kansas City, Josh Tomlin, Cleveland, Cory Kluber, Cleveland, Jordan Zimmermann, Detroit, Justin Verlander, Detroit, Michael Fulmer, Detroit, Justin Wilson, Detroit, Francisco Rodriguez, Detroit, Jose Quintana, Chicago, David Robertson, Chicago, Felix Hernandez, Seattle, Steve Cishek, Seattle, Vidal Nuno, Seattle, Nick Vincent, Seattle, Martin Perez, Texas, Sam Dyson, Texas, Doug Fister, Houston, Will Harris, Houston, Ryan Madson, Oakland
Along with outfielders, pitchers are the most difficult to select as there are so many pitchers to choose from. Sale is a lock as the lone White Sox on the roster. Wright and Tillman have been tremendous and surprising All-Stars. Salazar, Hamels, Lewis, and Hill could all be passed over for bigger names as well. We have documented that Ned Yost loves to have a bullpen loaded with power arms, our roster certainly represents that with Kimbrel, Chapman, Britton, Colome, Davis, and Herrera. Although others including Will Harris, Ryan Madson, Roberto Osuna, and Andrew Miller could shuffle the deck.

So there you have the RSM 2016 All-Star Prospectus, enjoy the game on July 12th and get out to the ballot box to ensure the Sox listed make the trip!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Yoan Moncada Coming to Portland

As you can see here on RSM under the tweets, the Salem Red Sox on their Twitter account announced #1 Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada has been promoted to AA Portland. Along with Moncada pitchers Jalen Beeks and Ben Taylor are also headed from Salem to Portland.

Moncada will be reunited with Andrew Benintendi.  Benintendi has come to life in June for the Sea Dogs, and it will be interesting to see if Benintendi and Moncada together can revive the 2016 campaign in Portland.

Moncada is expected to play for Portland at Hadlock Field on Tuesday.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Sixty Five Down, Ninety Seven to Go

Here are some thoughts banging around in my head after watching the Sox lose two out of three and cede first place to the Orioles. 
  • Is anyone else getting a little worried? I’m starting to feel like the 2016 Red Sox are a beautiful mansion that is built on a rotting foundation infested with termites. While the mansion (the 378 runs scored, the home runs, the emergence of Xander, Mookie, and JBJ as legit stars, the incredible last ride of Big Papi, etc.) is prettier than any other house on the block, the termite-infested foundation (the pathetic starting rotation, the mediocrity of the bullpen, the terrible bench, the overall lack of organizational depth) is threatening to take the whole thing down. The good news is that these problems can and probably will be addressed. We look poised to be firmly in the playoff race until the very end. But I just feel like with the kind of offensive talent this team has, and with the third-best run differential in the MLB, we should be better than 37-28 right now. I actually think this team has underachieved, which is weird coming off two last place finishes. I still think John Farrell should go, although it won’t happen until the offseason unless the Sox fall out of playoff contention.
  • Addressing the weak bench, part I: Jimmy Rollins is set to clear waivers soon and be released by the White Sox. Would we rather have Marco Hernandez or Jimmy Rollins as the middle infielder off the bench down the stretch? I’m honestly unsure. But I do think Rollins could still contribute to a team in a pennant race. His veteran presence, having something to prove after being released, his ability to come in as a pinch runner or pinch hitter in late game situations, I think I would trust him more than Hernandez when the at bats really start to matter. Hernandez hasn’t done anything to show he should be getting high leverage at bats late in the season for a contending team.
  • Addressing the weak bench, part II: Jose Reyes is about ready to clear waivers and also be released by the Rockies. Reyes comes with more red flags than Rollins: he is coming off a suspension and arrest for domestic violence, which would be tough for the PR-conscious Red Sox front office to swallow. But even more concerning (baseball-wise) are his eroding skills. Not too long ago, he was a premier defender, base stealer, and hitter. Could he still contribute to a team in a pennant race as a pinch runner, late inning pinch hitter, and utility middle infielder. Probably. Could the Red Sox use someone like Reyes? If he can still show elite speed, then yes. Do the Red Sox want an aging middle infield utility man with a domestic violence conviction who is owed $22 million in 2017 (but could be released after 2017)? Probably not. 
  • Addressing the weak bench part III: trade for Trevor Plouffe. The Twins (or at least their fans) want to move Miguel Sano back to 3B. His stint as an outfielder has been almost as disastrous as Hanley Ramirez’ was in 2015. But the problem is Trevor Plouffe is already manning the hot corner for the Twinkies and DH is occupied by Korean slugger Byung-ho Park. Seeing as Sano is the future of the franchise, it seems likely Plouffe will be traded. Plouffe hit .244/.307/.435 with 22 HR and 86 RBI in 2015. He has underwhelmed in 2016 after a DL stint in early April, but he’s a guy with a 2.5 and 3.9 WAR in 2015 and 2014 respectively. He would have to come off the bench for the Red Sox initially, but he might be better than Travis Shaw in the long run (or right now). Even if he is nothing more than a pinch hitter and spot starter for the Sox, it would be a big boost to their depth. He could fulfill the Mike Carp role from 2013, who was a very valuable player for the Sox. The 3B depth in the organization is atrocious, as is evidenced every time Josh Rutledge mans the hot sack. Brock Holt’s return will help with depth there, but he’s needed in LF so that Rusney Castillo can go back to Pawtucket or Cuba for the rest of his seven year $400 million contract (numbers approximate). I also think Plouffe could be had relatively cheap, as Minnesota is in a tough position of having to move him and Dombrowski will know this. The problem is, I would imagine a lot of teams will have interest. Go after Plouffe!
  • The Red Sox' starting pitching rotation is a porta-potty fire. A quick recap: Clay Buchholz was so bad, he was banished to the bullpen for the first time in his career. Joe Kelly had one good start and otherwise has been an erratic, inefficient c***tease. Henry Owens is a slop-thrower who looks like he will either be a AAA pitcher the rest of his life or will be out of baseball soon. Eduardo Rodriguez was supposed to step in and be his 2015 self, cementing a spot in the rotation and dominating for the rest of 2016. Instead, something is clearly wrong with him and he needs to go on the DL and basically start his season over. David Price has been pretty good lately, but we gave him a 7 year, $217 million contract to be the best pitcher in the American League, not “pretty good”. Thank god for Steven Wright and Rick Porcello. Things have gotten so bad, fans are calling for John Farrell to put Clay Buchholz back in the rotation. Egads.
  • Roenis Elias steps into the fray tonight to try to lock down a rotation spot for himself. He comes in with a cool 16.20 ERA and 3.60 WHIP on the 2016 season. Ok, that’s not fair: those numbers are in only 1.2 innings of major league work this season. In 9 starts with Pawtucket, Elias has a 3.54 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, and 2.22 K/BB. That WHIP is too high, and he walks too many batters. The one strikeout per inning pace at AAA is not particularly impressive. He’s going to have to hit his spots and let his defensive work behind him. We’ll see. Here’s hoping he does well.
  • Improving the Rotation Part I: The guy who I have long sought after on this website is about to get back to throwing again. Tyson Ross will throw a bullpen session on Sunday, and if all goes well should be back pitching with the Padres by early July. I want to see him come back and have success against major league hitters and not just assume he’ll be back to his old self like the Sox apparently did with Ed Rod, but as long as he shows he is back to being Tyson Ross, I say the Red Sox should pounce like a fat kid going after the last donut in the box. Ross checks all the boxes of a pitcher the Sox would like to trade for: youth, velocity, team control, all at a fair price. Go after Ross! In July!
  • It seems clear that Joe Kelly will not be in the Red Sox rotation any longer after he comes back from his most recent DL stint. John Farrell admitted this week that he would be open to moving Joe Kelly to the bullpen. To which I say: FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG JOHN!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been screaming about moving Kelly to the bullpen since mid 2015. Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa seem capable of continuing solid 2016 seasons, but the real fate of the Sox bullpen might come down to Joe’s ability to transition to the pen and Matt Barnes. It’s always been clear by the second inning, and usually by the first, of every Joe Kelly start whether he has it that night or not. If he doesn’t, the Sox lose. If he doesn’t have it coming out of the pen, just yank him. Why has it taken this long for the Sox to pull this trigger?
  • Rusney Castillo. 7 years, $72.5 million. Has to be the worst contract in Red Sox history, right? Jerry Remy was speechless last night in trying to describe how completely unimpressive and mediocre Castillo has been over the last two years. At least he’s still young. Oh no, wait: he’s 28 years old. John Lackey’s contract was bad at the start, but he was a big part of the ’13 World Series. Pablo Sandoval’s contract might compete as worst ever before it’s all said and done, especially if he keeps doing this:  

But what other contract would even be in contention for worst in Red Sox history? To make it worse, the Cuban player the Sox wanted that offseason was Jose Abreu and they nearly got him. When they didn’t, they signed Castillo as a consolation prize. Like the guy at the bar who strikes out with the dime piece hostess and takes home the ugly girl at the end of the bar. Only if the girl at the end of the bar had herpes. And syphilis. 
  • Finally, I would like to say: I HATE ALL-STAR VOTING. I hate all the campaigns that all teams are forced to wage on social media, on TV, and at the games just to have a chance to see their players on the team. I hate the endless pandering and the ballot-stuffing. I hate the updates on who is leading the voting at each position, as if it matters for something. I hate the fact that the best players don’t end up starting the All-Star game, especially since the game determines home field advantage in the World Series. I just hate the entire process. Almost as much as replay in baseball (okay, not that much. I’m worked up). I think the pitchers should vote on the hitters for their league and the hitters should vote on the pitchers. Who knows who is really good better than their opponents?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects- June 2016

A new month brings around the new RSM ranking of the Red Sox farm system.  This month brings a slight shuffle of the "top four" and injury and illness to much of the rest of the top ten.  There are four of our current top eight that are either currently out injured or ill, have not played yet this season due to injury, or are out for the remainder of the season due to an injury sustained in May.

There have also been some poor 2016 performances (in one case dropping the player out of the top 30- Ty Buttrey) or lackluster May results.  All of this has caused shuffling from number six all the way down through the rankings.  But on the more optimistic side there have also been players who make moves up the list due to strong showings in early 2016.

As always the team listed after the player is his assignment as of June 1 and the number in { } is May's ranking.  The offensive slash line is HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS and for the pitching prospects the slash line is W-L/ERA/WHIP/K-BB.

Let's get started.

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B- Salem {1}.  Moncada remains the best Boston prospect and one of the best in the game.  Yoan began May by winning the Carolina League player of the week in the month's first week. Among the highlights of that week was Moncada's first Carolina League home run, which was a grand slam.  After that week, Moncada scuffled through much of the rest of May, tamping down talk for now of a possible promotion to Portland. Yoan did finish May with a slash line for the season of 3/23/.287/.414/.858.  Besides the sterling OBP, Yoan added thirteen doubles and along with a trio of triples. Moncada also had 31 stolen bases by the end of May. You can still expect to see Moncada playing at Hadlock Field some time this season.

2. Andrew Benintendi, OF- Portland {2}. Benintendi became the first of the top prospects playing at Salem to be promoted to AA on May 15.  Benintendi forced the issue by tearing through the Carolina League at 1/32/.341/.413/.976 with thirteen doubles and seven triples in 135 at bats. The first two weeks or so of AA have not produced the same results.  In his first 42 at bats with the Sea Dogs, Andrew is hitting .213 with only two extra base hits.  But this is a step in the development of all prospects that can be very important.  The organization can see how the player, who has excelled up until this point, reacts and adjusts to adversity.

3. Anderson Espinoza, RHP- Greenville {4}. Espinoza has not completely dominated batters throughout 2016 at this point as he did in 2015.  But he has certainly had outstanding performances and an overall steady, strong first two months at Low A: 4-4/3.43(2.38 in May)/1.19/49-17 in ten starts.  On May 24th Espinoza had the longest outing of his pro career.  Anderson pitched six innings of two hit shutout ball.  The Sox are expected to cap Espinoza's 2016 at around 110 innings, after hurling only 58 1/3 innings last season.

4. Rafael Devers, 3B- Salem {3}. Devers is one of the players who struggled for the first two months of 2016. His line is 4/22/.197/.273/.587 with seven doubles and a triple.  Despite the overall underperformance, as the numbers show, Devers has flashed his power at times with the dozen extra base hits.  On May 28 Rafael had his first three hit game of the campaign, and that may be the start of a resurgence for the rest of 2016 for this very highly regarded prospect.

5. Sam Travis, 1B- Pawtucket {5} Travis was having a very solid AAA debut season with six home runs while hitting .272.  This all changed on May 29 when in a third inning rundown play, Travis injured his left knee.  The testing came back to reveal a left ACL tear and Travis will miss the rest of 2016.  Despite the lost remainder of 2016, Travis is expected to remain highly regarded as a top Sox prospect.  But the opportunity to grab the 2017 Red Sox first base job to open next season season may be in jeopardy.

6. Michael Kopech, RHP -XST{7}. Kopech's season will be the mirror image of Sam Travis'.  Kopech has missed all of 2016 so far due to a broken right hand in spring training, but is expected back soon.  Kopech is now at extended spring training, and made his first game appearance. Kopech pitched two innings and gave up only one hit, no walks while fanning three.  It is expected that Kopech will be assigned to a team before June is over, likely back to Grenville where he pitched in 2015.

7. Michael Chavis, 3B- Greenville  {8}.  Another player who is currently out with injury, but Chavis has apparently dodged a bullet.  In late April, Chavis injured his left thumb ligament and it appeared, in fact was reported in some places, that Chavis needed surgery. This would have ended or at least severely curtailed his 2016.  But as it turned out Chavis did not need any surgery, and he is at extended spring training working in both the field and at the plate.  Chavis, who was hitting .356 with three home runs at the time of the thumb injury, is now looking like he could return to the Drive during June.

8. Brian Johnson, LHP- Pawtucket {6}.  Johnson whose reputation was built on being able to repeat his delivery and pound the strike zone, did not look like himself for any of 2016.  His line for the season: 2-3/4.64/1.64/28-22 in seven starts. May was even worse with an ERA of 8.31 with more walks than strikeouts (8-11).  On May 21 the Red Sox announced Johnson was being placed on the temporarily inactive list as Johnson was seeking treatment for anxiety.  At this point all of the focus will be to get Johnson the treatment needed for his condition.  Hopefully Johnson can regain his nearly major league ready status in the future.

9. Marco Hernandez, Utility- Boston {13} Hernandez came to Boston as an unheralded player to be named later from the Cubs for Felix Doubront before the 2015 season.  After starring for both Portland and Pawtucket last year, Hernandez has made his way to the big leagues in 2016 as he has rode the Pawtucket-Boston express.  On Memorial Day, Hernandez blasted a three run home run in Baltimore to clinch a win over the O's.  This was his first big league home run, and Marco is looking more and more like a player who could help Boston in a Brock Holt-like role.

10. Pat Light, RHP- Pawtucket {12}.  Despite a cup of coffee with Boston, Light has spent almost all of 2016 in Pawtucket.  His main assignment has been to harness his 98 mph fastball.  If Light can throw his top shelf fastball for strikes consistently, he could be the answer for the Carson Smith replacement in Boston.  The May numbers were encouraging: 0-1/3.12/1.21/21-10 with three saves.

11. Nick Longhi, 1B- Salem{11}. This 2013 draftee is putting up his third consecutive solid season and is knocking on the door of the top ten. His 2016 line is 0/35/287/.362/.747 with fifteen extra base hits. After hitting seven home runs for Greenville in '15, it would be nice for Longhi to get off the schneid in the long ball column this year.  If Longhi begins to mix in some home runs and maintains his other numbers, a mid season promotion to Portland is not out of the question. It's possible the injury to AAA first baseman Sam Travis could set off a chain of first base promotions in the organization eventually.

12. Travis Lakins, RHP- Salem {10}.  The Ohio State product was another player who did not have a good May: 2-1/7.91/1.50/17-6 in four starts.  But for the year to date Lakins has struck out 44 as opposed to only 16 walks.  Look for Lakins to rebound in June.

13. Roniel Raudes, RHP- Greenville {15}. The "other" eighteen year old in the Drive rotation.  In his nine starts on the season, Raudes has actually put up numbers slightly better than his eighteen year old staff mate, Anderson Espinoza: 5-1/3.21/1.12/40-8.  Raudes will also have his innings caped at around 110 for the year, he is at 42 through May.

14. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF- Greenville {9}. "Ax" falls out of the top ten due a real battle at the plate so far in 2016 for Grenville: 4/14/.201/.270/.666 with five doubles and four triples.  Basabe was completely lost in May hitting only .115. As a nineteen year old playing in the South Atlantic League there is plenty of time to regain his stroke, and the thirteen extra base hits garnered so far does show signs of light in his game.

15. Mauricio Dubon, SS- Salem {16}.  Dubon continues to shine and be very consistent for Salem.  His YTD line is 0/19/.299.382/.767.  His line for May nearly mirrors: 0/12/.295/.382/.814. Dubon still appears to be in line for a promotion to Portland.

16. Trey Ball, LHP- Salem {22}.  Are we seeing the blossoming of Trey Ball?  After missing nearly all of April with an injury, Ball has returned to pitch several strong starts and has compiled a pitching line of: 2-2/2.31/1.21/24-19 in seven starts.  In five May starts Ball's ERA was 1.80.  After pitching all of 2015 also at Salem, it would seem just a few more strong High A outings would lead to Trey Ball, who will turn just 22 on June 27, to Hadlock Field.

17. Josh Ockimey, 1B- Greenville {20} The power hitting first sacker is threatening to skyrocket even further up our rankings if he continues to rake as he has throughout 2016.  From Opening Day to the end of May, no one else in entire system has crushed the ball in the manner that Ockimey has.  His YTD line is 9/28/.308/.450/1.016 with a dozen doubles and a triple. The numbers for May alone were: 4/18/.321/.467/1.015.  The ungodly OPS is fueled in part by 42 walks.

18. Yankory Pimentel, RHP- Salem {19}.  The twenty two year old Dominican continues to compile strong numbers at Salem: 3-1/1.38/1.00/21-15 with two saves in  a dozen games. Pimentel is one of several young bullpen arms the Red Sox are developing in the system, and Yankory could see Maine before the season ends.

19. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP- Portland {17}. Teddy is another prospect whose May did not live up to April.  After a good start to his AA career in April for Portland, the numbers that Stank had in May were: 1-4/5.02/1.53/13-11 in five starts. Stankiewicz will be another prospect to watch how he reacts to this bump in the road.  If he can recover, he ranks near the top of starting pitching candidates at the upper levels of the system.  If not, he will join a long list of players throughout the game who have hit the wall at AA.

20. Deven Marrero, SS- Pawtucket {14}. Perhaps the poster boy for Red Sox prospects who have had a terrible 2016 at the dish: 0/15/.196 (only .182 in May)/.242/.482 with eight doubles.  Despite his sterling glove almost any chance Marrero had to be an everyday major league player is gone.  If he can stick in the show, it would likely be as an utility infielder. But hitting under the Mendoza line in AAA may even preclude the backup role in the big leagues.

21. Kyle Martin, RHP- Pawtucket {24}. After Pat Light, Martin could be the most ready arm for the Boston bullpen. Martin followed a strong April with even a better May: 0-2/1.65/0.86/23-3 with two saves. The outstanding statistic for Martin is on the year 34 strikeouts versus only three walks.

22. Chandler Shepherd, RHP- Portland{26}. Other than one start for Lowell in 2014, the Red Sox have used Shepherd out of the bullpen in his other 65 games of his pro career.  In his AA debut, Shepherd has been a bright light for the dismal Dogs: 1-1/2.31/0.99/30-9 with four saves.  For all of the talk about Andrew Benintendi racing to the big leagues this year, it is just as likely the first member of the 2016 Portland Seas Dogs to reach Boston will be Chandler Shepherd.

23. Luis Alejandro Basabe, 2B- Greenville {28}.  It is almost like the Basabe twins have changed uniform numbers just to fool everyone about which Luis is which. "AJ" was considered a borderline prospect at best while his outfield playing twin, was rocketing into the top ten lists. But as mentioned above, Ax Basabe has really struggled in 2016, but brother AJ is opening eyes:3/12/.289/.389/.826 with a pair of triples and eight doubles.  There may well be two Basabes on this list for the next few years.

24. Williams Jerez, LHP- Portland {23}. Williams continues to have workman like, but unspectacular numbers at AA: 0-1/3.77/1.57/22-11.  Considering Jerez is only 24, in only his third year of pro pitching, and most importantly, is left handed, there is plenty of time for him to carve out a niche in a major league bullpen.

25. Wendell Rijo, 2B- Portland {21}. Another member of the "boy, I have had a terrible 2016" club. His debut year at AA has not gone well at the plate: 1/8/.176/.236/.486 with seven doubles.  At age 20, again this season the one thing Rijo has in his favor, he is much below the league average age.  In theory Rijo could spend all of 2016 and 2017 at Portland and still be on pace for a possible big league career.  But with the wave of infielders behind him at Salem (and that may be one reason he was pushed up to Portland to begin with) it would behoove Mr. Rijo to start hitting.

26. Jake Cosart, RHP- Greenville {NR}. This hard throwing right hander was not on the May rankings, but has appeared on the list before.  In 2016 the Red Sox, as they have done with other pitchers in the recent year or two, have converted Cosart to the bullpen full time at Greenville.  Jake has responded with: 1-0/2.05/1.14/39-14.  If he can continue a nearly 3 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio, Cosart could come up the system quickly.

27. Austin Rei, C- Greenville {NR} Another player who has been on these lists most of last season after being drafted in the third round of the 2015 June draft.  Rei, who had a miserable season at the plate for Lowell in 2015, seems to be rebounding at Low A.  His batting numbers for May were encouraging: 1/4/.266/.405/.749.  Rei came out of college with a reputation as a strong defensive catcher, so any offensive offerings just improve his chances to be a big league catcher some day.

28. Tate Matheny, OF- Greenville {NR} Still another player drafted in 2015 who was not on this list in May, but did make a 2015 appearance.  After missing the early part of 2016 with an injury, the twenty two year old son of Cardinals manager, Mike Matheny, joined the Drive in late April and contributed immediately.  His line for the year is: 2/23/.284/.314/.711 with four doubles and three triples.

29. Henry Ramos, OF- Portland {NR} And a final returnee to our rankings.  Ramos who has played for Portland since Opening Day 2014, has had much of his Portland experience shattered by a series of injuries.  Ramos actually had a brief sojourn on the DL this April.  But despite that Henry has began 2016 in style in what is likely a last ditch effort to maintain his standing with Boston as any type of future major leaguer: 3/9/.277 (.304 in May)/.331/.738 with five doubles and three triples.  Ramos is athletic enough to be at least a backup outfielder in the big leagues, but he must stay healthy.

30. Christopher Acosta, RHP and Yoan Aybar, OF {29/30}.  This pair of highly regarded Dominican prospects are awaiting the start of their seasons.  Acosta, coming of a 2015 DSL season, is likely headed for the Gulf Coast League and Aybar, who has all ready spent a year each in the DSL and GCL, is ticketed for Lowell.

So there's the RSM rankings of the Sox farm for another month.  There will be at least one new name in July, maybe more, because the MLB draft is on June 9-11.  The Sox pick at 12 in the first round and that player will certainly be on our July rankings, if they have signed by then. For updates on any Sox related draft rumors check out our post on the pre-draft here at RSM.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

2016 MLB Draft Preview- The Red Sox Perspective

  The annual MLB draft is a three day affair which will commence on June 9.  This year the Red Sox pick number 12 in the first round. These are the teams that pick ahead of Boston:

1. Philadelphia
2. Cincinnati
3. Atlanta
4. Colorado
5. Milwaukee
6. Oakland ( first AL team to pick)
7. Miami
8. San Diego
9. Detroit
10. Chicago White Sox
11. Seattle

This is not considered a deep or overly talented draft.  And there is no consensus number one pick or any definite expected order to any of picks ahead of Boston.  Among the issues with the top of the first round in this draft is that the most plentiful type of players available are high school pitchers.  Many teams do not like to use picks on the volatile arms of the high schoolers, preferring to wait until late first round or second for these picks.  But there is a dearth of college pitching in this draft, so the high schoolers may go earlier than expected.

Despite the lack of a consensus top four or five picks, there are some players who are off the board early in every mock draft out there.  Let's take a thumbnail sketch look at some of those names.

Players who will definitely gone by pick #12:

AJ Puk, LHP Univ. of Florida.  Considered the best college pitcher available.  Despite there being no consensus number one, Puk is going first to the Phillies in at least 80% of the mock drafts I have seen.

Kyle Lewis, OF Mercer. Lewis is another player under the Phillies' consideration at the top of the board.  The plus power hitting center fielder is unlikely to drop below number three.

Jason Groome, LHP Barnegat, NJ HS.  Months ago the Phillies were thought to be grabbing this local kid at the top. But the bugaboo of taking a high school arm number one is in play here.  In the mocks Groome rarely drops below Atlanta at three, although I have seen one with Groome at six to Oakland.  One very slight asterisk as far as Groome definitely not going at #12.  In the last few days Groome has put out on social media, he is a life long Red Sox fan and it would be a dream to pitch for Boston. Could Groome and his people try to ask for a big enough dollar amount to push him to his desired #12?  Seems unlikely.

Mickey Moniak, OF La Costa Canyon, CA HS  He has all the tools except maybe power, which could come.  Usually mocked from four to seven.

Corey Ray, OF  Louisville.  One of the top two or three college bats available.  Ray seems a lock to go in the top five.

Nick Senzel, 3B Tennessee. Considered by many to be the most advanced college hitter in the draft. In this volatile draft I have seen him mocked from two to ten, but never slipping to #12.  If he did I
think the Sox would pounce on him quickly.

Players Unlikely to be at #12

Delvin Perez, SS Puerto Rico. Some consider Perez as talented as anyone in the draft but has major immaturity issues, which could cause him to slide.  In one mock draft I actually saw him go by Boston into the mid teens.  But on the flip side he has been consistently linked with Milwaukee at five.

Riley Pint, RHP Overland Park, KS HS  After Jason Groome, usually the next high school pitcher off the board.  Almost always in the four to seven range, although more recently I have seen a couple of nines to the Tigers.

High School Pitchers:

Including Riley Pint, there are a group of four other high school pitchers that the Red Sox are rumored to be interested in:

Braxton Garrett, LHP Florence, AL
Forrest Whitley, RHP San Antonio, TX
Matt Manning, RHP Sacramento, CA
Ian Anderson, RHP Clifton Park, NY

These four are listed in approximate order of how they are usually mocked.  Garrett being the least likely to get to #12(#11 is as low as I have seen him mocked).  The other issue with any of these hurlers is whether or not the Sox would go the high school pitcher route.  At least one report I have read said they would not, but another specifically listed these four as targets.  One other note Whitley, especially and Manning are rumored to be Yankee targets at #18.

Mocked to the Sox:

Here are several names that have been linked to Boston in various mock drafts from various national sources.

Zack Collins, C Univ. of Miami.  Collins is known to have plus power from the left side, but there is a split decision on his defensive prowess.  Most scouts feel he is a 1B-DH in the making.  A few feel he could stick at catcher with some work.  Think Kyle Schwarber, but a notch or two down in the power department.  In almost every mock ( he went #11 in one) he is available at #12.

Nolan Jones, 3B Bensalem, PA HS.  This might be a reach for at #12, but more than one report has Boston very interested.  Jones is a lefty hitter, considered one of the better pure high school bats in the draft.  Jones usually rates or mocks in the low 20's, so if Boston wants him, he should be there.

Taylor Trammell, OF Georgia HS.  The blazing fast left handed hitter is committed to Georgia Tech, but is expected to sign.  Other than his mock to Boston at 12, his next two highest spots were 16 & 18.

Bryan Reynolds, OF Vanderbilt  Reynolds went undrafted out of high school in 2014 and then as a freshman at Vandy, helped lead them to a CWS title.  The switch hitter has put up three solid offensive campaigns for the Commodores. Again, Reynolds is usually rated ten or twelve spots (or more) below 12.

Zack Burdi, RHP Louisville In its most recent mock draft Baseball America had Burdi at #12.  Burdi is the closer at Louisville and has a fastball that routinely hits 100.  Some scouts feel Burdi could join a major league bullpen this season, maybe even straight out of college.  But if Boston takes the fireballing righty at #12, when for example MLB.com has him rated as the #39 prospect in the draft, the members of Red Sox Nation who closely follow the farm system are gonna be pissed.  It is fervently hoped by all Sox fans the team does not finish poorly enough to merit another #12 pick for a good long time.  This pick should not be used to try to fill a current need in the Boston bullpen. But on the flip side if the Sox like Burdi the next two Boston picks are at #51 & #88. He is unlikely to be there then.

There seems to be a common thread in these mocks, which is the Sox (other than maybe Collins) reaching down the board for a player they may rank higher than others.  Or it may very well be the Red Sox are playing their cards so close to the vest, that none of the "experts" have any damned idea what the Sox will do.

Three more names to watch for:

Blake Rutherford, OF Chaminade, CA HS.  This left handed hitting high schooler is often mocked in the range of 8-10, ahead of Boston.  But if he slips the Sox would likely be interested in his plus across the board skills.

Dakota Hudson, RHP Mississippi State.  His fastball can touch 97, and his command has improved this year over the first two MSU seasons.  His mock spots are usually right before or after Boston.  I have not seen Hudson linked directly to Boston, but a college arm, which are few in this first round would seem to be intriguing.

Cal Quantrill, RHP Stanford. Son of Paul. Cal was expected to be taken at or near the top of this draft, but last year, three starts into his sophomore season, Quantrill hurt his arm and required Tommy John surgery and has not yet returned to the mound.  The Tommy John surgery patients in recent years have still be taken in the first round, but not always as high as #12.

As the next week and a half passes on towards draft day, I will continue to update any rumors connected to the Red Sox and their first round pick.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Thoughts on the Red Sox with 26.54% of the Season in the Books

There have been many columns and blogs this week commemorating the "quarter pole" of the 2016 Red Sox season.  Since the actual quarter of 162 games is 40 1/2 games, it is very difficult to get thoughts published between the top and the bottom of the fifth inning of game 41.  But here are some observations on the suddenly red hot Red Sox team after 43 games.

* Jackie Bradley, Jr.: Maybe JBJ is all that needs to be said and move on.  Jackie, who I said in my pre season picks I still believed could hit .280-.290,  is well on his way.  As JBJ sits on a ongoing 26 game hitting streak he is slashing .342/.411/1.035 with eight home runs, ten doubles, and four triples. JBJ cannot stay this hot (can he?), but that .280-.290 is starting to look too low.  And be honest, if you were told with a week to go to Memorial Day weekend, JBJ would have one fewer RBI than David Ortiz your immediate response would have been " oh, Big Papi has collapsed as a hitter in his age 40 season".

* Big Papi has most assuredly not fallen he is on a historic pace for a 40 year old batter. He has a line of 10-34-.311/.391.  Of course, with each heroic game Papi is asked why are you retiring?  But here is the dilemma: Do you keep begging Ortiz to come back until finally his offensive production does fail, as it surely would eventually. What is wrong with going out on top?

* There is nothing wrong with David Price. Price began his Red Sox career in  a most "non-aceian" way.  But whether it was Dustin Pedroia mechanical tips or just another of a string of poor Aprils in Price's career, the turnaround has seemingly begun.  The big win in KC after dropping the first two of the three game series was an example of an ace stepping forward.

* There is paucity of free agent pitchers this coming winter, who usually constitute the trade deadline rentals.  Even though the conventional wisdom is Dave Dombrowski will trade for another starter, preferably a # 2, the Sox rotation improvement may have to come from within.  I know this is easy to say after he pitched a no-hitter into the seventh yesterday, but I still think Joe Kelly turned a corner in his eight game winning streak last August-September.  Kelly and hopefully a healthy Eduardo Rodriguez may be the additions needed to this rotation.

* Hanley Ramirez can play first base, ladies and gentlemen.  And Hanley is playing with such joy and hustle, he has been a true pleasure to watch day in and day out.

* Xander Bogaerts is very likely one of the five best players in the American League right now.  When you factor in his defense along with 4/24/.339/.392 while leading the league in hits, he had better be the starting shortstop for the AL in the All Star game.  Go vote now.

* Mookie Betts while hitting home runs along the way, the two he hit yesterday make nine for the campaign, has not reached the offensive level expected ....yet.  In a lineup with six regulars hitting .300 of above, Betts is at .276.  When some one tells you players like JBJ and Ortiz cannot keep up their torrid paces, point out to them that players like Betts, Ramirez, and whomever is playing left field can certainly pick up whatever slack may come.

* Left field may be the one "open" spot going forward.  Brock Holt had started 2016 capably, but as his record shows when he plays every day, his numbers tail off.  Blake Swihart, after losing his catching job to Christian Vazquez, returned to AAA where the Sox groomed him to play left field along with catching.  With Brock Holt now on the concussion DL, Swihart was recalled this weekend to play left field in a platoon with Chris Young. If Swihart does not grab the job and Holt returns to his utility role, do not be surprised if by sometime in late July or August that the left fielder for your Boston Red Sox is Andrew Benintendi.

* Travis Shaw has been everything the Red Sox could have asked for when they pushed Pablo Sandoval aside and made Travis the starting third baseman.  He is hitting 6-29-.313-.364 and has fielded third base surprisingly well.

* Craig Kimbrel has come as advertised (after a couple of early season bumps), but if Carson Smith is looking at a Tommy John or some other extended injury the bullpen becomes a possible concern.  Especially if Koji should realize at some point is he is 41.

* As a card carrying member of the John Farrell needs to go club (I had May 1 in the firing date pool), it is evident if this young team continues to pile up wins and plays with the exuberance they have exhibited so far, the manager is not going anywhere.

* In my pre season picks, I somewhat reluctantly picked the Red Sox to win the AL East, and I have no reason to change my mind (except for being much more confident in the pick).  As a matter of fact, I still feel Baltimore's pitching will cause them to slide back and the Yankees are even older than I thought, Toronto is playing so poorly they have slipped behind New York and the Rays are well playing like the Rays. For several years in a row the AL East has been considered to be a complete toss up and all the teams expected to be bunched together.  But each season one of the teams pulls comfortably in front.  The team with the best chance to that in 2016 is Boston.

Let's enjoy every minute of the remaining 73.46% of the 2016 regular season.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunday Night Baseball Live Chat 5-8-16

Come join us for another Sunday Night Baseball live chat as we talk live during tonight's Red Sox @ Yankees game. Ron Kulpa not allowed!
Live Blog Sunday Night Baseball Red Sox @ Yankees Live Chat 5-8-16

Saturday, May 7, 2016

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects- May 2016 Edition

After the completion of the first month of another season of minor league baseball, RSM presents another of our monthly in-season rankings of the Red Sox farm system.  There was no jockeying of position in our top seven from April, although there were many superb performances from the group. There is more shuffling below the top seven, including one player cracking the top 25 who was not in our pre season top 40.

As always the team listed behind the player is his assignment as of May 1 and the number in {  } is the previous month's ranking.  There are two slash lines used, for hitters: HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS and for the hurlers it is W-L/ERA/WHIP/K-BB.

Here are the top 30 kids in the Sox system ranked for May:

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B- Salem {1}.  In 2015 as a newly signed international free agent, the Sox kept Moncada in extended spring training to ease him into American baseball.  Yoan did not debut with the Greenville Drive until May 18.  When he did begin in Low A ball, he struggled until the All Star break, and then excelled in the second half.  In 2016 with Salem, there has been no such slow start. Moncada ended April at 0/9/.316/.450/.868. In addition Moncada had a half dozen extra base hits and sixteen stolen bases.

Despite the presence of Dustin Pedroia at second base in Boston, and much speculation that Moncada will be moved to another position because of Pedey, at this early point in his pro career, Moncada has played only second base.

Moncada certainly seems to be pace to reach Portland this season.  Based on his numbers the earliest promotion could come in May, and at the latest around July 4th.

2. Andrew Benintendi, OF- Salem {2}. If Moncada is knocking on the door to Hadlock Field, Benintendi is kicking in the front gates.  Last year's number one Sox draft pick is shredding the Carolina League to the tune of 1/22/.360/.426/1.066.  In 89 at bats through April Benny also had ten doubles and six triples. That means over 19% of his at bats resulted in extra base hits.  Benintendi also went through a stretch of 48 swings at the ball without a swing and miss ( the "miss" that started this streak was actually a check swing that Benintendi was ejected arguing over, before he had a clear swing and miss the streak had arrived at 60). Andrew ended April with an ongoing batting streak which had reached nineteen games, tying the all time Salem Red Sox record. Despite public pronouncements from Dave Dombrowski and other Sox execs, that a promotion is not near, if Benintendi continues this level of hitting in May, it seems unfathomable that he will not be a Portland Sea Dog any day now.

3. Rafael Devers,3B- Salem {3}. Devers is the only one of the super prospects who has struggled to begin 2016.  His April line was 2/8/.138/.242.504.  The one bright light in that meager line is the two home runs.  Devers is perhaps the one prospect for Boston who has the capacity to develop into a pure home run hitter. So the glimpse of home run power in April was encouraging.  There have been questions about Devers' ability to remain at third in the big leagues, so another encouragement has been his steady defensive play, according to manager Joe Oliver, while the bat struggles.  Unlike the two teammates ranked ahead of him here, Devers who'll play the entire 2016 campaign at age 19 (young for the Carolina League), is ticketed to spend all year at Salem.  Do not be the least bit surprised if Rafael ends his year  with numbers similar to 2015: 11/70/.288/.329/.773.

4. Anderson Espinoza, RHP- Greenville {4} The eighteen year from Caracas, Venezuela has continued to wow baseball personnel with his at times dominating pitching. One less than stellar game has inflated the ERA but his line is through five starts: 1-2/4.50/1.18/24-8.  The win was the first pro win for Espinoza due to the  strict innings limit imposed by Boston in 2015. So far this year Espinoza is being limited about five innings per start.  The 97+ fastball with excellent secondary pitches are still being flashed by Anderson.  The 24 K's, in only 22 innings, are only two strikeouts behind the system lead.  Espinoza only pitched 58 innings in 2015, so do not be surprised if his 2016 innings limit will be in the 100-115 range.

5. Sam Travis, 1B- Pawtucket {5} Travis, who impressed so strongly in the Red Sox spring games, has continued by putting up a very strong first AAA month. In April Travis hit 2/14/.289/.326/.760.  Sam also collected a half dozen doubles.  Travis is certainly positioning himself for a mid season call up to Boston if an injury should create an opportunity.  There had been talk of trying Travis in left field, but that has been put on the back burner while the Paw Sox have been training both Marco Hernandez and Blake Swihart in left field.

6. Brian Johnson, LHP- Pawtucket {6}. With Henry Owens' inability to grab even a temporary spot in the Boston rotation, Johnson could be next up.  With both Joe Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez in the middle of minor league rehabs, the next opportunity may be awhile though. Johnson has been off to an okay start to his 2016. 1-2/2.25/1.50/20-11 in four starts.  Johnson does seem healthy after an elbow scare which curtailed his 2015.

7. Michael Kopech, RHP-XST {7}.  Kopech still has not pitched in 2016 after breaking his pitching hand in a spring training off the field fight.  At this point his return is not imminent.  Only his long range ceiling and some top 100 prospects in all of baseball mentions last winter are keeping him from falling a few spots.

8. Michael Chavis, 3B-Greenville {9}. The decision to have Chavis repeat a level at Greenville, where he could be the clear cut starting third baseman was off to a great start. Chavis, who hit only .223 in 2015 for the Drive, put up an April of 3/14/.356/.415/.992.  Chavis' .356 was second to only Benintendi's .360 in the system. But unfortunately in late April, Michael injured his left thumb ligament and is on the disabled list, awaiting a verdict on a possible surgery. If Chavis should need the surgery and misses a substantial amount of 2016 it could set back the progress that been exhibited here in April.

9. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF- Greenville {10} Luis "Ax" Basabe is off to a very strong season at Greenville:3/10.259/.286.743.  The three home runs tied Basabe for third in the system with Michael Chavis. Ax also had five doubles and a triple.  Basabe also stole four bases without getting caught.  There is school of thought that the Sox were willing to trade Manuel Margot to San Diego not only due to Andrew Benintendi coming along but also because of Basabe.

10. Travis Lakins, RHP- Salem {13}.  Hidden among the very tall shadows cast by several of the super prospects playing in Salem is this 2015 sixth round draftee from Ohio State. After pitching just two innings for Lowell in '15, the Sox jumped Lakins all the way up to Salem out of spring training.  Lakins has not disappointed: 3-1/2.16/1.28/26-10, he lead the system for April in wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched in his five starts. Of the pitchers who have not yet reached AA or AAA, Lakins could be the one who comes through the system the fastest.

11. Nick Longhi, 1B- Salem {14}.  Another name lying in the weeds at Salem.  This 2013 draftee after hitting .330 at Lowell and .281 at Greenville the previous two seasons, began his High A career at: 0/16/.292/.354/.724.  The sixteen RBI was third for the Sox system in April.

12. Pat Light, RHP- Boston {12}  Light made his major league debut on April 26 after being recalled to help fortify an overused Boston bullpen.  In one inning of work he allowed two earned runs on two hits and a walk.  Light has since returned to AAA, where he continues to work on mastering his control of his very substantial fastball.  If Light's fastball can be harnessed, he is a definite candidate to help the Sox pen this year and going forward.

13. Marco Hernandez, U- Pawtucket {17}.  As the Sox look for an additional utility player to help the big club, Hernandez has emerged as a leading candidate.  After giving the middle infielder some play at third, Marco has now been playing some left field at AAA. Despite yo-yoing  between AAA and Boston, Hernandez had a strong April: 0/5/.333/.396/.855.

14. Deven Marrero, SS- Pawtucket {8} The former first rounder falls six spots down our list due to two factors: no clear path to a regular job in Boston and a terrible offensive April.  Marrero has always had the sterling defensive reputation, the question has been his bat.  April did nothing to answer that question: 0/6/.212/.264/.523.  When Boston needed infield bench help in April they recalled both Josh Rutledge and Marco Hernandez over Deven Marrero.  Nuf said.

15. Roniel Raudes, RHP- Greenville [24} Raudes is the second youngest player in the entire South Atlantic League, at age 18 years 3 months.  The youngest, of course, is Anderson Espinoza.  And if not for the presence of Espinoza in the Red Sox family, Raudes would likely be the most talked about young pitching phenom. His April line was 2-1/2.65/1.29/13-5. The Nicaraguan righty does not have the electric fastball of Espinoza.  Raudes' game is pounding the strike zone, he locates his upper 80's fastball as well as a plus curveball and change.  The pair of eighteen year olds are likely to spend the entire season at Greenville. It could be a lot of fun watching them come up the ladder together.