Saturday, August 6, 2016

RSM Top 30 Red Sox Prospects- August 2016

As expected there are more movements- comings and goings- on this month's rankings of the top of the Red Sox system than there has been from one month to the next in a long time.

Dave Dombrowski, while not pillaging the entire system as feared by some, did trade three players from July's top 30, and  fourth from July's honorable mentions.  Anderson Espinoza (#4) was the biggest name dealt by far.  He went to the Padres straight up for All Star pitcher Drew Pomeranz. Pat Light (#8) was dealt to the Twins on deadline day for fellow reliever lefty Fernando Abad.  Also from July's top 30 the Red Sox now only have one Luis Basabe in the system.  Luis Alejandro Basabe (#23) leaves his twin brother, Luis Alexander behind in Greenville, as "AJ" was traded to Arizona, along with pitcher Jose Almonte for Brad Ziegler. Paw Sox righty Aaron Wilkerson, who was just off the top 30 in July, was traded to Milwaukee for Aaron Hill. The Brewers also received second baseman Wendell Rijo, who had fallen off the top 30 in July, but had resided there for the last couple of seasons.  In addition to Rijo, another player no longer in the top 30 recently, but had spent many months on our rankings over several seasons has left the organization.  Infielder Sean Coyle was designated for assignment to make room on the 40 man roster.  The Angels claimed Coyle and he is now in their minor league system.

Last month, second round draftee, shortstop CJ Chatham joined our list as the first of the top picks from the draft to sign.  By the July 15 signing deadline, all of the the top ten picks had signed, and the other four players selected in the top five join Chatham on this list for August.

As usual the team listed behind each player is their assignment as of July 31 ( with one exception marked by an *).  The number in { } is July's rating.

The hitter's slash line:  HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS, for pitchers W-L/ERA/WHIP/K-BB.

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B Portland {1}.  Moncada was selected to play in the Futures Game in San Diego as part of baseball's All Star celebration.  He took the opportunity and polished his sterling reputation even more, by winning the game MVP. The highlight of his game was a long home run to left field.  Of note, Yoan hit the home run batting right handed.  During the regular season Moncada has 12 home runs, combining his A and AA totals. All 12 home runs have been hit from the left side by the switch hitting infielder. His right handed hitting is still one skill that could use some more minor league tuning. After the Futures game, the Sox brass continued to state the intent to leave Moncada at second base for this season.  However, just days later Moncada began a routine of pre-game workouts at third base with his manager at Portland, former big league infielder Carlos Febles.  As July ended and August began, rumors of a promotion to AAA abound as Yoan has hit 7/18/.307/.408/1.078 in his first full month at Portland.

2. Andrew Benintendi, OF Boston* {2}. Benintendi, who turned 22 on July 6th, continued to rake at AA after a slow start.  Benintendi was hitting just .213 in his first 47 at bats for the Sea Dogs.  In 190 AB's since his AA line is at 8/44/.295/.357/.872 with 18 doubles and five triples.  The Red Sox, after some quotes from Dave Dombrowski about being willing to bring players to the majors from AA in certain cases, began playing Benintendi in left field instead of his usual center.  Andrew capped his torrid July by being named the Eastern League Player of the Week for the 25th-31st. It turned out to be his last week in the Eastern League because in the late night hours of August 1, Benintendi was recalled to Boston and flew to Seattle to join the Sox. Benintendi made his MLB debut the next night going 0 for 2 as a late game sub.  On August 3, Andrew, in front of numerous family members who flew into Seattle for the game, had two singles while making his first big league start.  The chance to grab a big league job is there.  It will be fun to watch Benintendi play in a pennant chase.

3. Rafael Devers, 3B Salem {3} As well as the top two super prospects have played, in July Devers was right there with them.  Rafael collected 41 hits in July to go: 5/17/.357/.408/1.078 for the month.  After a terrible beginning to '16, Devers is now hitting .272 with nine home runs for the year.  Keith Law of ESPN ranked Devers as the seventh best prospect in all of MLB in his mid-season report. If Devers was truly a piece Dombrowski was dangling for pitching at the deadline, the Red Sox may be very happy in the future that Devers was not dealt.

4. Michael Kopech, RHP Salem {6}.  With the trade of Anderson Espinoza, Kopech inherits the mantle as the Sox best pitching prospect. Kopech, after an injury plagued beginning to 2016, finally made his Salem debut in July: 0-1/1.21/1.20/32-15.  Kopech did not allow an earned run until his fourth start. Kopech also gained attention around the game by hitting 105 mph on the radar guns in one  of his starts. A strong last month at Salem should set Kopech up to head the Sea Dogs rotation for Opening Day 2017.

5. Jason Groome, LHP GCL Red Sox {NR}.  At the signing deadline Boston came to an agreement with Groome, their first round pick, for $3.65M.  It had been widely reported the high school lefty, who had been by many considered the best player in this draft, was looking for $4M or more to sign. On July 30, Groome was assigned to the Red Sox team in the Gulf Coast League. If Groome turns out to be anything close to his draft profile, he could be the top name on this list in the future.

6. Sam Travis,1B Pawtucket {5}.  The first baseman whose season ended two months ago due to injury is still the top hitting prospect in the tier after the top three super prospects.

7. Brian Johnson, LHP Pawtucket {10}. Johnson has returned after dealing with depression issues.  Johnson made six starts in July,  two each for the GCL Red Sox and Lowell and then returned to AAA for two more.  Johnson has pitched very well since his return with a July ERA of 2.28 in the six starts.  The best sign of all is Johnson's command, which is his calling card, has returned with 26 strikeouts versus only eight walks in July.

8. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF {17}. Basabe is another player who has used a torrid July to turn around his poor start to 2016, and to rocket back up our rankings.  Basabe raised his batting average for the year to .263 with ten homers, by rocking July: 4/19/.363/.438/1.032.  For the year, Luis has 18 stolen bases in 21 attempts, and along with his ten home runs,  this provides a glimpse as to why scouts feel Basabe has 20/20 potential.

9. Josh Ockimey, 1B Greenville{12}. The first sacker, who has put together one of the best 2016's in the Sox system: 15/50/.253/.388/.859 with 22 doubles, has broken into our top ten for the first time. Ockimey actually struggled in July, hitting only .151. But Ockimey did hit four home runs, one of which was a 485 foot bomb.  Something to keep an eye on for August will be how Ockimey adjusts to the struggles of July.

10. Mauricio Dubon, SS Portland {11}. Another top ten newcomer, who has had a very solid, consistent season throughout stints with Salem and Portland.  For the season Dubon has hit .309.  On July 31st Dubon hit his first AA home run.

11. Michael Chavis, 3B Greenville {7}. Chavis continues to have a solid second season for the Drive after returning from an April injury.  Chavis is hitting .266 an improvement of over 40 points from the .223 Chavis compiled for Greenville in 109 games in 2015.

12. Marco Hernandez, U Pawtucket {9}. After hitting a very respectable 1/5/.295/.367 in limited time for Boston, Hernandez has settled back in at Pawtucket, where he is hitting .310 for the season.  Marco will continue to need to prove he can be more than a AAAA player, and compete for a big league spot as an utility player.

13. Nick Longhi, 1B Salem {13}. The only number really missing from an otherwise good season at Salem is the home run ball: 2/62/.288/.359.755 with 27 doubles and three triples for the year to date. Longhi has also played some in right field which could give him some positional flexibility going forward.

14.CJ Chatham, SS- Lowell {18}. In his first 28 pro at bats for the GCL Sox and Lowell, Chatham is off to a 4 for 28 start.  CJ was hitless in his first few GCL games and then broke out with a double and home run,  The next day Chatham was promoted to Lowell.

15. Roniel Raudes, RHP Greenvile{14}. The 18 year old is now the youngest member of the Drive after the Espinoza trade.  Raudes did not shine in July with a 5.76 ERA, but for the season his numbers are 9-3/443/1.28/82-17.  Obviously the 82 K's to only 17 walks is the number that jumps off the page.

16. Travis Lakins, RHP Salem {16} After a strong start to 2016 this Ohio State product has now struggled through both June and July.  But other than two innings pitched for Lowell in 2015, this is his pro debut and in High A.  Despite his July ERA of 7.20 raising his seasonal ERA to 5.93, Lakins is still a highly regarded pitching prospect.  On July 28 Lakins went on the Disabled List with right elbow inflammation, perhaps an explanation of the poor June and July.

17. Trey Ball, LHP Salem {15} The 2013 first rounder seemed to be coming around in early 2016, but Ball pitched poorly in late June and worse in July, with a terrible monthly ERA of 8.17. Ball had stretch of three July starts in which he did not make it to the fourth inning in any.  Ball's day of reckoning as a Sox prospect may be coming sooner rather than later.

18. Kyle Martin, RHP Pawtucket {21}.  With the trade of Pat Light, Martin moves to the top of the list of young bullpen prospects for Boston.  Martin continued a strong '16 campaign with a 2.93 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in July.

19. Chandler Shepherd, RHP Pawtucket {20}. And if Kyle Martin is #1 relief prospect, Shepherd is 1A. The 14th round draft pick in 2014, has made his way to AAA and in July had a 3.86 ERA in seven games.

20. Shaun Anderson, RHP Lowell {NR}.  Anderson was the third round pick for Boston in this year's draft.  Anderson signed on July 3 for $700,000.  Anderson, 6'4" 225 lb., was the closer for the University of Florida, but Boston is likely to try him as a starter.  By the end of July, Anderson, who features a 95 mph fastball, had made just one appearance at Lowell.

21. Mike Shawaryn, RHP unassigned {NR}.  This righty was the fifth round draft pick from the University of Maryland.  His three year career record for the Terrapins was 30-10.  Shawaryn signed for an over slot bonus of $637,500 on deadline day, with Boston using some of the money saved on Jason Groome.  Shawaryn throws in the low 90's and has a plus slider.

22. Yankory Pimental, RHP Salem {19} Another bullpen arm who has spent the season at Salem.  His line for the year is 7-5/3.47/1.35/51-29.  Like many of the pitchers on this list, Pimental struggled in July with an ERA of 6.75.

23. Bobby Dalbec, 3B Lowell {NR} The final new draftee on the August rankings.  The Sox grabbed this power hitting third baseman from the University of Arizona (where he also pitched, including in this year's College World Series).  Dalbec had an outstanding sophomore season at Arizona, but he regressed this year with many strikeouts.  But Dalbec has off the charts power potential, and if he can cut down even a little on the whiffs, and makes enough contact, the Sox may have stolen him in the fourth round.  Dalbec signed on July 15 for $650,000 (using more of the Groome savings) and on July 23 he his pro debut for Lowell.  In his first 18 at bats Dalbec has already hit his first pro home run and is hitting .444 (8 for 18).  Dalbec is one to really keep an eye on.

24. Tate Matheny, OF Greenville {25}. Matheny is a model of consistency in 2016.  In July he produced a line of 1/13/.318/.348/.771, with a nearly identical seasonal BA and OBP of .316 and .357.

25. Yoan Aybar, OF Lowell {28} Aybar who turned 19 on July 3, has been playing regularly in the Spinners outfield.  He has three home runs showing signs of his potential but his overall numbers are  a weak 3/12/.216/.269/.613.  Aybar ,who also has three doubles and two triples, hit only .177 in July.

26. Austin Rei, C Greenville {26}  Rei is another player whose future depends on being able to hit enough to match his stronger defensive game.  July brought mixed results, with only a .200 batting average but with four home runs for the young catcher.

27. Henry Ramos, OF Pawtucket {27}. July was not Ramos' best month as he hopes to take full advantage of his first AAA assignment: 3/8/.221/.269/.641.  Ramos is very athletic, but to have a big league career even as a fourth outfielder, he needs to hit more than .221.

28. Jake Cosart, RHP Greenville {NR} Cosart reappears in the top 30 after slipping from 26th in June to just off the top 30 in July.  Cosart has thrived after being converted full time to the bullpen this year.  Jake had one of the better July lines for any Red Sox minor league hurler: 1-0 with two saves and an ERA of 2.92.  His seasonal mark is 4-1 with 2.09 ERA.  But his outstanding entry on the seasonal stat sheet is 76 strikeouts with only 25 walks.  Cosart who can throw in the high 90's could move quickly as a bullpen arm.  The move began on August 4 when he was promoted to Salem.

29. Deven Marrero, SS Pawtucket {22}.  The former first round draft pick and top ten Red Sox prospect is on the verge of failure.  He has had a miserable 2016 at the plate:0/21/.196/.242/.277.  His July was even worse hitting only .134.   The question with Marrero since the day he was drafted is can he hit enough?  The answer is no.

30. Bryce Brentz, OF Boston {NR} The is an unique situation where a former top ten prospect whose light had dimmed made his way back to our list because of his major league showing.   In June with the Red Sox left field looking like a MASH unit, Brentz was recalled seemingly just as a warm body.  But in a platoon facing mostly lefty starters, Brentz has acquitted himself admirably.  He may never be a big league star, but Brentz has shown he could be at least a fourth outfielder for many big league teams.  Through July for Boston Brentz is hitting:1/7/.288/.327/.712 with a pair of doubles.  Brentz has also played well in left field overall.  On June 26 in Texas, Brentz hit his first big league home run.  When Chris Young returns from the DL, Brentz likely will return to AAA.  But by then he will have spent a coupe of months in the show, and another team may have been watching.

Here are few other names just missing the Top 30

Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP Portland
Jalen Beeks, LHP Portland
Luis Ysla, LHP Portland
Josh Pennington, RHP Lowell- '14 29th round draftee from Cape May, NJ who fell due to TJ surgery
Kyri Washington, OF Greenville
Steve Nogosek, RHP Lowell sixth round draftee, closer from Univ. of Oregon

Believe it or not August is the last full month for the minor leagues which end their  regular season campaigns on Labor Day.  Our next rankings will come after Labor Day, after those regular seasons are over.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Trading Deadline Day Live Chat

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sale Price

If the Boston Red Sox can swing a trade for the possibly available White Sox All Star lefty, Chris Sale, the name of this post would be the front of the Red Sox rotation. But the topic of the post is in actuality what it may cost the Red Sox in players to acquire the best pitcher in the American League.

Chris Sale is only 27 years old, he will not turn 28 until right before Opening Day 2017.  He is signed through 2019 at very short money for a star pitcher.  He is earning $9.15M this year with 12M due in '17 and '18 and 15M in 2019.  He is 71-43 with an ERA of 2.95 for his career.  The White Sox will ask for the moon for him it would seem.  Let's look at some of the rumored asking prices out there for Chris Sale.

First the most common rumor is the White Sox want a package of five top young players, with some major league ready players in the package ideally.  There are also reports Chicago would want at least two pitchers in return to help offset the loss of Sale.  There are a very limited amount of teams who have the young players to make this happen probably Texas, Boston, the Dodgers, and maybe Houston.

We will examine groups of Red Sox players who have been mentioned in Sale rumors and present a package that could entice the Chisox.

The core, the B-Boys: Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Several reports claim any Sox-Sox deal must begin with one of these three, plus one of the Sox best two prospects plus more.  Let me be clear there is no chance in hell I would trade Mookie Betts straight up for any pitcher including Chris Sale.  There is the same no chance that I would trade Xander Bogaerts straight up for any pitcher, again including Mr. Sale.  I might, maybe deal JBJ straight up for Sale but I doubt I would (and to be honest I doubt the White Sox trade Sale one for one for Jackie).  I do not think Dave Dombrowski trades any of these three guys either.   The basis of the deal needs to start elsewhere.

The Super Prospects: Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers

Many of the same reports which claim the deal begins with one of Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley go on to say the second piece needs to be Moncada or Benintendi.  I hate to sound like a broken record but I do not trade Yoan Moncada for any pitcher.  This would be akin to trading Bogaerts or Betts two or three years ago.  My preference would be to hang onto Benintendi as well.  This may be difficult to do because there was a report out of Chicago today saying the White Sox would be willing to build a deal with Benintendi as the main piece. Last year when the Red Sox picked Benintendi at number seven overall in the draft, the White Sox were sitting at number eight, and apparently had every intention to take Benintendi there.

If there is to be a blockbuster package it must include one top ten type prospect (that means top ten in all of baseball, just not Red Sox top ten).  If Boston hopes to hold onto both Moncada and Benintendi, luckily they have one more top ten player in their system.  Rafael Devers, a power hitting third baseman, after a slow start to 2016 has been raking of late in Salem. Keith Law of ESPN in his mid season rankings had Devers as the seventh best prospect in all of the game.  At age 19, Devers is further from big league ready, but is a similarly rated prospect to Yoan and Andrew.

So piece number one would be Rafael Devers.


With the trade of Anderson Espinoza to San Diego earlier this month for Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox system is not loaded with pitching, the way they are with batters. The two best by far are Michael Kopech, who recently hit 105 on the radar guns, pitching for Salem and the second top 50 type prospect is recently signed number one draftee, Jay Groome.  Groome should not be dealt (even though with new rules in MLB recent draftees can be traded), until Boston has a better idea what they have in Groome.  This may take a year or two. And I do not think they are in position to trade Kopech either (although I would if it meant making the deal or not).

Neither Henry Owens nor Brian Johnson have the panache to be a leading piece in the trade at this time.  I do think however one of them (Owens likely) could be added as a fourth or fifth piece.

Boston does have a couple of other mid range pitching prospects, but likely no one else to spark Chicago's interest.  But Boston certainly does have other pitching to offer.  Out of the current Boston bullpen, Matt Barnes could interest the White Sox (especially if they still believe he could start in the big leagues) and at the back end of a deal Joe Kelly may spark some interest.

But if Chris Sale were to join the Red Sox rotation, Boston could include in the trade package the starter leaving the rotation. Tonight on NESN Nick Cafardo said if the Red Sox included Eduardo Rodriguez in the package it would take only two other pieces to make a deal. Now considering it was Cafardo the other two pieces could be Betts and Moncada, but the question is would you trade E-Rod in a package for Sale?  Rodriguez is not only young, but has over a year of MLB experience.  I cannot imagine any other team offering a better young pitcher.

About a week after the Drew Pomeranz trade to Boston a report surfaced that Theo Epstein and the Cubs had been trying hard to acquire Pomeranz.  The Cubs did not intend to keep Drew, but the report said the Cubs were going to include Pomeranz in a package for a starting pitcher who was not previously known to be available.  Now I cannot believe the White Sox would have traded Chris Sale across town to the Cubbies, but could Boston use Drew Pomeranz in a similar manner?  Pomeranz is the same age as Sale and is coming off an All Star Game appearance, and is signed for two more years.  Pomeranz could "replace" Sale in the Chisox rotation, and attraction of acquiring some young talent with him from Boston would offset the differences in the two lefties.

So I include in my proposal to Rick Hahn so far: Rafael Devers, Drew Pomeranz.

Big League Ready Talent

If the White Sox, as reported, are looking for the package to include a big leaguer, the third piece of our deal would likely come from the following list:

Blake Swihart
Travis Shaw
Brock Holt
Christian Vazquez

Let's review the list in reverse order.

The White Sox catching is dreadful Dioner Navarro, Alex Avila.  Christian Vazquez would be an immediate and long term upgrade.  Vazquez' poor offensive showing in 2016 might limit his value, but I could see him being attractive to a team with such crappy catchers.

Brock Holt is probably too valuable to the Red Sox as they begin the last two months of the season.  But if the Red Sox could keep Benintendi out of the deal, he comes up to Boston to help out in left field.  If Chicago is looking for players to help them now, Holt fits the bill. Plus Chicago second sacker, Bret Lawrie is a free agent to be, so Holt could play there full time in 2017.

Travis Shaw has been slumping of late, but he has shown he can hit for power at the major league level.  The White Sox seem to have the corner infield spots covered with Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier.  But Frazier is another name Chicago is rumored to be shopping at the deadline, and Abreu would make a fine DH if Shaw manned first. For those who are still Shaw skeptics, this would be considered trading high on Shaw.

But by far the most attractive name on this list, a player who in my eyes is just a notch or so below Moncada, Benintendi, and Devers is Blake Swihart.  Swihart despite being out currently with an ankle injury, could be the answer to the Chicago catching situation detailed above. Swihart has already shown flashes of the strong major league hitter he can be, and likely will be.  Swihart is not someone I would like to trade, and if the Red Sox do they had better hope Sandy Leon is not a mirage or that Vazquez will hit when he is further removed from Tommy John surgery.  But if you are looking to build a blockbuster package and keep all five of Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, Moncada and Benintendi, Blake Swihart likely needs to be in the package.

Offer so far: Rafael Devers, Drew Pomeranz, Blake Swihart.

This offer includes a major league All Star pitcher, a big league catcher/outfielder, and a prospect rated in the top ten to fifteen in all of baseball.

The rest

For the rest you could look back at any of the Red Sox Maineiacs top 30 prospects.  For another pitcher I would offer one of Travis Lakins, Trey Ball, or Teddy Stankiewicz.  Lakins is the highest rated Red Sox prospect of these three, Ball of course was drafted the highest, and Stankiewicz is the only one of these three at AA.  Henry Owens or Brian Johnson could fit here as well, but I would prefer to send along someone in a lower level.

One player who has had a very strong 2016 is current Sea Dogs shortstop, Mauricio Dubon.  Dubon has also played second base, and with the White Sox having young shortstop, Tim Anderson, Dubon could be a keystone partner for Anderson in the future.

So let's make our final offer: Devers, Pomeranz, Swihart, Dubon, and Trey Ball for Chris Sale.

So would Chicago make this deal?  I am not sure, but this is an offer that does not include the five guys I would not want to trade (plus it keeps E-Rod).  It is also an offer that I feel would be the best Chicago receives unless Texas trades several guys like Jurickson Profar, Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara.  But Texas does not have the pitching to trade to match Pomeranz (and especially not Rodriguez if he was included).

If the White Sox really want to trade Chris Sale this package might get it done.  But to be honest, I am not convinced Sale will be traded.  Jose Quintana, anyone?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Night Baseball Live Chat Red Sox @ Yankees 7-17-16

Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs Sunday Night Baseball live chat!
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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Dave Dombrowski Deals- Exit Espinoza

As the All Star Break wound to a close, I was preparing to post some thoughts on several positive developments in the first half of the season.  Such as not only can Jackie Bradley, Jr. hit enough to be a starting outfielder in the big leagues, it turns out he can hit enough to be a starting outfielder in the All Star Game.  Yes David Ortiz has plenty left in the tank at age 40 and Hanley can play an acceptable first base. And more including the continued blossoming of Betts and Bogaerts.

But before I could compile that post, Dealer Dave Dombrowski struck.  On the last night of the All Star break, the Sox made the deal for a starting pitcher everyone felt they so needed.   But the timing, nearly three weeks before the trade deadline was surprising.  And then the players involved and the structure of the deal completed the surprise.

Boston acquires lefty starter Drew Pomeranz from San Diego straight up for the Red Sox top pitching prospect, 18 year old Anderson Espinoza.

First, let's talk some about Anderson.  It has been decades, if ever, that Boston had this type of pitching prospect, when you factor in his age.  And this is not just the Red Sox overrating a prospect.  For example on the day of trade, Keith Law of ESPN came out with his mid season rankings of baseball's top prospects and Espinoza was #14 ( fourth best pitching prospect).  Espinoza has a fastball in the 97 mph range and a curveball and change up that are considered plus pitches by the scouts. Pedro Martinez, who Espinoza draws comparisons to, was quoted earlier this year as saying Espinoza was one prospect that cannot be dealt. At age 17, he completely dominated the rookie leagues, but this year while he was having an acceptable season at low A Greenville, his ERA is 4.38. He also was the youngest player in the entire league.

Pomeranz is a every bit an interesting case as Espinoza. Once upon a time, he was Espinoza (except not age 18).  Drew was drafted out of ole Miss by Cleveland fifth overall in the 2010 draft and was progressing quickly towards Cleveland, when the Tribe traded him ( and their second best pitching prospect, Alex White) to the Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez.  Since that time Pomeranz fell into a spot starter, mostly relief pitching role.  He also has bounced from Colorado to Oakland and then traded last winter to the Padres.

Pomeranz, a big 6'6' 240 pound lefty, pleaded for a shot at the rotation this spring and won a job.  In 2016 Pomeranz was so effective that he was in this week's All Star game and pitched one inning. He has the lowest batting average against in MLB in 2016: .184 and  with a 8-7 record with an ERA of 2.47.  Three of his losses are 1-0 to Clayton Kershaw and a pair of 1-0 and 2-1 losses to Johnny Cueto.

With the extreme lack of starting pitching available on the trade market, some observers considered Pomeranz and Oakland's Rich Hill as the best pitchers who will be actually up for trade.  Besides his 2016 performance, there is another reason Pomeranz may have been the best available and perhaps why the price tag was so high.  Pomeranz is only making $1.35M this season and cannot be a free agent until after the 2018 season.

This deal could go one of several directions.  Best case scenario Dave Dombrowski has again identified a pitcher on the upswing as he reaches his prime years.  The best previous example is Dombrowski dealing for just some guy from Arizona named Max Scherzer. Then it is just as possible the Pomeranz first half of 2016 has been an aberration and he will return to his spot starter/reliever results.

Espinoza may very well become Pedro Martinez,, but he is also still 18, and not only has an unsure future, but at best is two years away from the big leagues if not more.  One sign of the high regard Espinoza has is the fact the Padres traded a 27 year old lefty All Star starter under control for 2 1/2 years straight up for him.  From Boston's point of view trading only Espinoza reduces the risk of losing a superstar of the future.  The last time the Sox traded their best pitching prospect to the Padres it was Casey Kelly for Adrian Gonzalez.  But the Sox included some other minor leaguers and one was Anthony Rizzo.  Losing Casey Kelly has not hurt a bit, but man it would have been nice to have Rizzo.

If the Red Sox could win the World Series again in David Ortiz' final season, and Drew Pomeranz helps in this quest, then likely this deal is a win.  Even if Anderson Espinoza wins a string of Cy Young Awards.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects- July 2016

 We are now past the the minor league All Star games and a number of the prospects on our list have been promoted.  In addition the amateur draft occurred in early June.  By the end of June only one of the first five picks for Boston has signed, second rounder shortstop CJ Chatham, and he joins our list.

The Sox first round pick lefty pitcher Jason Groome, a high schooler from New Jersey, is expected to go right up to the July 15 deadline to sign, but most observers expect he will and he and some of the other draftees may join these rankings a month from now.

As always the number in { } behind the player's name is the previous month's ranking.  The team listed is the current assignment as of June 30.  The hitter's line is HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS and for the pitcher's W-L/ERA/WHIP/K-BB.

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B- Portland {1}. On June 20 the much anticipated promotion of Moncada to AA Portland happened.  In 61 games at Salem, Moncada finished at 4/34/.307/.427/.923 with 25 doubles and a trio of triples.  Yoan also stole 36 bases.  In his 40 at bats with the Sea Dogs, Moncada is off to a .250 start with one home run, triple  and double each.  At the beginning of his AA career, the Red Sox have chosen to keep Moncada at second base.  But do not be surprised if the next move in Moncada's career is not a quick promotion to AAA but instead a position change, maybe to third base.  Moncada has been named to play for the World team in the Futures Game in San Diego.

2. Andrew Benintendi, OF- Portland{2}. After an initial adjustment to AA, Benintendi has caught fire again in June.  His Portland line for June is 4/17/.305/.362/.886 with 11 doubles.  Now that Benintendi has been joined by some of his former Salem teammates, it will be interesting to see how high the Sea Dogs fortunes can rise. Benintendi will join Moncada in the Futures Game opposing him while playing for Team USA.

3. Rafael Devers, 3B- Salem  {4} Devers climbs back up to number three on the foundation of a resurgent June.  Despite hitting .238 for the year through June, Devers rebounded nicely in June hitting 0/9/.313/.352/.738.  If Devers continues to be hot at the plate in July it will be intriguing to see if he is the trade chip Dave Dombrowski tries to cash in for pitching.  Or could Devers make himself too strong a prospect to deal?

4. Anderson Espinoza, RHP- Greenville {3}.  For an eighteen year old pitching in the South Atlantic League where the average age is around 21, Anderson is having a strong campaign for his Drive team: 4-7/3.95/1.33/62-25 in 15 starts for 66 innings.  Espinoza is not completely dominating opponents as in 2015, and likely is looking at a complete season at Greenville.  But despite a few bumpy starts, Espinoza has also flashed the explosive stuff and is still one of the elite pitching prospects in all of baseball.

5. Sam Travis, 1B- Pawtucket {5} Travis of course is out for the season with the knee injury we discussed last month.  If not for the injury Travis was considered a top trade chip if the Sox dealt for pitching and tried to hold onto the big four on this list.  The question is if some team is rebuilding for beyond 2016, would they still take Travis in a deal?

6. Michael Kopech, RHP- Salem {6}.  After his off the field broken hand injury in spring training, Kopech has had some movement in his 2016. Some.  Kopech left extended spring training and was assigned to Lowell and made the Spinners Opening Night start.   Kopech went 4 1/3 innings in the opening start allowed no runs on four hits.  Michael walked and struck out four each.  After that one start Kopech was promoted two rungs to Salem.  On the day Kopech was scheduled to make his High A debut, he was scratched from the start with what was called a leg cramp.  He has since been diagnosed with a calf strain, and while not considered serious, Koepch was on the Salem DL as June ended.

7. Michael Chavis, 3B- Greenville {7} Chavis was activated from the disabled list on June 6 and returned to the Drive lineup for the first time since April. Chavis hasn't regained the lofty numbers from April hitting only .211 with one home run in June.

8. Pat Light, RHP- Boston {10} In twenty AAA games this year, Light has five saves and a 2.05 ERA.  Light shone particularly brightly in June: in seven appearances Light had a pair of saves with an ERA of 0.00.  Pat also struck out eleven with only three walks.  Light has been recalled to Boston and if he can continue to command the high octane fastball in June's manner, he could be one of the answers to the depth needed in the 7th and 8th innings.

9. Marco Hernandez, IF- Boston {9}Marco continues to contribute off the bench and in an occasional starting role for Boston. In 36 at bats, Hernandez has hit his first MLB home run and is hitting .250.

10. Brian Johnson, LHP- Pawtucket {8}. Johnson's career remains on hold as he is still away from the team and is in Florida working out while he continues to be treated for anxiety.

11. Mauricio Dubon, SS- Portland {15}.  Dubon is another recent graduate from Salem to Portland.  And while Mauricio is not the same caliber prospect as Moncada and Benintendi, he has opened scouts eyes this year from spring training through June.  He finished his Salem stint hitting .306 and a very impressive .387 OBP with 29 RBI. In his first 30 at bats for the Sea Dogs, Dubon has hit .267 with a still strong .353 OBP. Dubon also has a double and a pair of triples in those first 30 AB's.  Dubon was named a Carolina League All Star.

12. Josh Ockimey, 1B- Greenville [17}. The South Atlantic League All Star continued his strong hitting in June, with a bit of a dip: 2/8/.254/.357.766.  The 20 year old left handed hitting slugger from Philly has an overall line for the season: 11/36/.286/.417/.925 with 17 doubles.  His high OBP has been fueled by his 53 walks which more than doubles his walk total for Lowell in 2015.  This added patience at the plate is being given as a major reason for his overall offensive explosion.

13. Nick Longhi, 1B- Salem {11} Along with Rafael Devers, Longhi is now a anchor in the Salem lineup with the promotions of several Opening Day teammates to Portland.   Longhi has hit well all year: 1/46/.289/.365/.760.  His June slash of .293/.372/.775 nearly matched the overall total. With the Sea Dogs using some veteran retread first basemen, it is not out of the question that Nick becomes another Salem alumnus to see Hadlock Field this year.

14. Roniel Raudes, RHP- Greenville {13} Another Drive member that was named a South Atlantic League All Star.  Raudes continues to post numbers better than his heralded fellow teenage teammate, Anderson Espinoza: 7-2/3.88/1.23/56-12.  His June ERA was over 5.00 however (as was Espinoza's), so it will be telling to see how strongly the teens can finish the campaign, before any innings limits may come into play.

15. Trey Ball, LHP- Salem{16}.  Ball seems to be the next Salem player who could go to Portland at any time.  In June Ball made five starts covering 25 innings: 3-2/2.52/1.56/14-14.  The factor most likely keeping Ball in Class A is that the walks in June matched the strikeouts.  Better command would likely push the former number seven overall draft pick to AA.

16. Travis Lakins, RHP- Salem  {12}. Lakins really struggled for most of June with an ERA of 7.17 and a WHIP of 2.02 in five starts.  Although for the year Lakins has 62 K's to 24 walks, the poor June has ballooned his overall ERA to 5.45.

17. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF- Greenville {14}  Ax's overall line for the year : 6/23/.217/.281.684 continues to be a disappointment (other than the home run number).  But in June he showed signs of life with a BA of .267 and a OBP of .329.  A strong last two months at Greenville in 2016 could put this Basabe twin back on the path to being a top ten Sox prospect.

18. CJ Chatham, SS- Unassigned {NR}. The Sox took this college shortstop from Florida Atlantic in the second round.  Chatham was expected to play for Lowell, but after reporting it was discovered Chatham had a hairline fracture in his thumb, which he had suffered in the last week of his college career, but had gone undetected.  Scouts are split on CJ's future chances of remaining at shortstop down the road.  But his bat is considered strong enough to play elsewhere if need be.  Chatham was considered the best college shortstop in the 2016 draft, although it was considered a weak college shortstop crop this year.

19. Yankory Pimental, RHP- Salem {18} Yankory has accumulated decent numbers at Salem for the year to date: 3-2/4.08/1.42/16-6 with a save.  With his fastball sitting in the mid 90's, Pimental is considered a bullpen prospect.

20. Chandler Shepherd, RHP- Pawtucket {22} Another prospect who was promoted during June.  The reliever was promoted from Portland to Pawtucket on June 20.  In 22 games for Portland ( 30 IP), his line was 1-1/1.80/0.80/39-10.  In his first seven innings for the Paw Sox, Shepherd continued to shine: 0-0/0.00/0.43/4-1 with another save.  As the Red Sox continue to look for bullpen depth, Shepherd could get a shot this year in Boston.

21. Kyle Martin, RHP- Pawtucket {21} Martin is another bullpen arm expected to be on Boston's radar, but he stumbled in June: 0-1/5.91/1.59/11-7 with a home run allowed.  But for the year Martin's ERA is 3.72 and he has four saves.

22. Deven Marrero, SS- Pawtucket {20}Despite a brief cameo appearance in Boston during June, while a parade of Paw Sox players came through Boston acting as the Bosox bench during a plague of injuries, Marrero's star continues to fade.  June was his best month at the plate hitting .273, but that still leaves his BA for the season at .214.

23. Luis Alejandro Basabe, 2B- Greenville {23} AJ continues to outshine his more heralded twin brother, and because of this he was named to the league All Star team, and his brother was not.  In June AJ hit a torrid: 0/9/.350/.466/.949 with six doubles and a triple.  This brought his YTD numbers to 3/21/.301/.406.847. One of the best statistical seasons in the Sox system to date.

24. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP- Portland {19}.  The only player on the top 30 who has spent the entire season with the Sea Dogs. But Teddy, after a solid beginning to his AA career, really came off the rails in June: 1-3/8.44/2.17/16-11 in six starts.  This brings his ERA for the year to 4.99.  If Stankiewicz hopes to continue his one level per season rise through the Sox system, he will need a better July and August.

25. Tate Matheny, OF- Greenville {28}. The son of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny began his pro career in 2015 by hitting .181 at Lowell.  2016 has unveiled an entirely different player.  For the Drive, Tate has hit and hit: 4/32/.315/.359.817.  Matheny also has eleven doubles and four triples. With that type of production and his pedigree as a kid growing up in big league clubhouses, this 2015 fourth round draftee could blossom as a top prospect.

26. Austin Rei, C- Greenville {27}. Rei is another player improving over a poor Lowell debut.  The second round draftee hit only .179 at Lowell in 2015.  Rei is not nearly matching Matheny's improvement, but is hitting better: 2/20/.228/.346.656.  Rei has also been strong behind the dish.

27. Henry Ramos, OF- Pawtucket {29}.  Ramos who rejoined our rankings last month, was soon thereafter promoted to AAA.  Ramos after a pair of injury shortened seasons at Portland now has a chance to show he can be a big league player.  Since his promotion to Pawtucket, Ramos has been hitting, in 81 at bats, 2/17/.309/.318/.800.  Still only 24, Ramos may well have turned the corner.  Henry could be a lesser part of a Boston trade package at the deadline.

28. Yoan Aybar, OF- Lowell {30}.  Aybar is finally getting some game action as the Lowell season began in June.  In the first twelve Spinners' games Aybar began: 1/6/.2783/.327/.740, also with a double and a triple.

29. Jalen Beeks, LHP- Portland {NR}.  Beeks was promoted from Salem at the same time as Yoan Moncada (and fellow pitcher, Ben Taylor).  In his final three starts for Salem, Beeks had an ERA of 1.72. His AA debut was outstanding, with ten strikeouts.  Beeks joined the Sox system as a 12th round draft pick in the 2014 draft from a junior college.  Beeks will turn 23 in July.

30. Kyri Washington, OF- Greenville {NR}. Kyri who debuted on our list in May, only to slip off last month, sneaks back in at 30.  His year to date numbers: 11/50/.289/.323/.881.  The eleven home runs tie him for second in the entire system with Josh Ockimey (Paw Sox vet Chris Marrero has 12).  Kyri barely made the Drive roster out of spring training, but has capitalized on his chance.

A few other names who just missed the list:

* Bryce Brentz,OF- is getting a chance in Boston at least for now, has his first MLB home run.
* Aaron Wilkerson, RHP- Indy League refugee, who starred in AA, now at AAA, Boston beckons
* Luis Ysla, LHP- Sea Dog reliever
*Ty Buttrey, RHP- converted to pen in Portland, 96 mph heater may play better in pen.
*Jake Cosart, RHP another bullpen convert as of this past April

Christopher Acosta- the international free agent who signed at same time as Anderson Espinoza, was expected to make his stateside debut this year.  But he got into trouble during extended spring training and he bolted and went home to the Dominican.  Acosta was then asked to report to the Red Sox Dominican Academy.  He refused that and the Sox suspended him and placed him on the restricted list.  For the moment this places him off the Sox radar.

As mentioned at the top the deadline to sign draftees is July 15, so for next month's rankings we are likely to have more than one addition to our list.  Hopefully this will include Jason Groome placed well into the top ten.

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.