Thursday, March 2, 2017

David Price's Elbow Hurts and So Does My Heart

Reports are out all over Red Sox Twitter this morning that David Price has been scratched from his next start with elbow/forearm soreness. He got an MRI and apparently didn't like the results, because he's getting a second opinion. That's right, our $217 million man is visiting the dreaded office of Dr. James Andrews, Tommy John surgery extraordinaire.

So, to recap, the Red Sox signed Price to a 7 year, $217 million contract before the 2016 season. Price proceeded to underperform expectations, not pitch "like a true ace", and lost yet another postseason game running his postseason record as a starter to 0-8. And now it looks like he'll need Tommy John surgery and be out until late in the 2018 season, and really not back to top form until the 2019 season. For those counting at home, by the time April 2019 rolls around, the Red Sox will have paid Price around $90 million. It reminds this blogger of the John Lackey contract - a less-than-stellar beginning in Boston, looked like the worst contract in the history of sports for most of it, then a major injury and rehab, but rebounded to become a vital part of the 2013 championship team before being traded away. Let's hope at least that last part comes true for Price, who even before this injury was dealing with headlines in the Boston Globe like "Will Boston Ever See the Good Old David Price?"

Now, before we go any further I would like to add this important disclaimer: David Price was good last year. Really good. He led the American League in innings pitched and games started (seems like an important part of "pitching like an ace!"). His K/9 was just 0.3 less than in 2015. He won 17 games and struck out 228 batters, good for the second-highest total of his career. His control was slightly worse than normal, posting his highest BB/9 in four years (2.0), and a few more balls left the park pitching in Fenway, resulting in his highest HR/9 in his career (1.2). But David Price is still a damned good pitcher, folks. His absence hurts.

Finally, what will this do to the Red Sox rotation? Well, this article claiming that Drew Pomeranz wants zero part of being put in the bullpen might not matter, since the big lefty will most likely now be firmly entrenched in the top five. Sox rotation will shake out like this if in fact Price is out for 2017:
1. Chris Sale
2. Rick Porcello
3. Eduardo Rodriguez
4. Steven Wright
5. Drew Pomeranz

That's still a pretty damned good starting rotation. The Chris Sale trade is looking better and better. My only issue is this: what happens when another starter gets hurt? The depth beyond this is scary - anyone want to see more of Henry Owens starting games for Boston? Me either. Brian Johnson anyone? Eh. Clay Buchholz? He's wearing a Phillies uniform now. It gets scary quick down here beyond the top five. Get Brian Bannister on this quickly, we need another Rich Hill for depth.

Monday, February 13, 2017

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects Pre Spring Training Edition

Last September RSM ranked the top prospects in the Red Sox system following the 2016 season's completion. The biggest change in this ranking compared to September's is the exit of eight names due to trades, the rule 5 draft, and in one case leaving via minor league free agency. The now former Sox prospects (and their Sept. rank) are:

 1. Yoan Moncada
4. Michael Kopech These three were the bulk of the package used to acquire Chris Sale.
8. Luis Alexander Basabe

 7. Mauricio Dubon
28. Josh Pennington This pair of kids went to Milwaukee with Travis Shaw for Tyler Thornburg.

27. Justin Haley This pitcher was taken in rule 5 draft by Angels, who traded him to the Twins.

37. Aneury Tavarez Taken in Rule 5 draft by Baltimore

39. Henry Ramos Signed as a minor league free agent with the Dodgers.

So our new rankings are largely a reshuffling of the remaining names from the names presented in September, with one new name to our list down at number 20. Their September ranking is in { } and in a slight change from our past rankings, the team listed after the player is a projection of where that player will begin 2017.

1. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston {2} Benintendi is still regarded a prospect because his major league plate appearances were under 130 in '16 leaving eligible as a rookie in 2017. Every major prospect ranking this off season has Benintendi as the number one prospect in all of baseball and is considered the odds on favorite to win American League Rookie of the Year. It will be a shock if Benintendi is not the everyday starting left fielder for Boston. In addition, in several interviews this winter manager John Farrell has proposed the idea of Andrew batting second in the lineup. AB will be a key component to an offense trying to replace David Ortiz' production. If you are looking for a bold, off the wall 2017 prediction for the Red Sox try this one. Andrew Benintendi not only wins AL Rookie of the Year, but matching the player he is ofter compared to Fred Lynn, he also wins AL MVP.

2. Rafael Devers, 3B, Portland {3} Devers is ranked as a top twenty prospect in the game. Unless something very unexpected happens, Devers will inherit the number one spot on this list come May, when Benintendi comes to bat enough to lose his eligibility. For all the large, three top ten prospect, package Boston parted with to get Chris Sale, multiple reports stated the White Sox continuously asked for Devers along with Moncada and Kopech. Dave Dombrowski basically confirmed this and said the Sox would not trade Devers. Devers has been invited to his first big league camp and at age 20 is scheduled to play third base for the Sea Dogs. If Devers shines at Portland, he could make the jump to Boston in 2017 a la Benintendi in 2016. Or as Mookie Betts did in 2014 start at Portland, make a stop in AAA before going to Boston. Even if Devers comes to Boston in 2018, he is still one of the best power hitting prospects in all of baseball and he is still very young.

3. Jay Groome, LHP, Greenville {5} Groome is another one of top shelf highly regarded prospects in the baseball wide rankings. But since he just came out of high school in last June's draft, Groome is further away from the big leagues than the others in the top five of this list. Groome is known for a plus fastball and a devastating curveball. Boston will be cautious with the youngster's innings this year and he will likely spend the entire campaign at low A, but beginning in 2018 Groome's ascension will be guided by his production, and despite his age could be big league ready by 2020.

4. Sam Travis, 1B, Pawtucket {6} I will admit it I am higher on Sam Travis than some others. If he had not missed more than half of 2016 with a knee injury, he could all ready be Boston's first baseman. On more than one occasion this off season the Sox brass explained not going after free agent slugger Edwin Encarnarcion by saying they did not want a long term contract to EE blocking Sam Travis (or Rafael Devers). Now I think the Sox desire to stay under the new luxury tax cap, had more to do with not pursuing the Jays DH, but I believe they are high on Sam Travis. I think any injury to or slip in production from Hanley Ramirez or newcomer Mitch Moreland could lead to promotion to Boston for Sam Travis.

5. Brian Johnson, LHP, Pawtucket {9} This will be a big, maybe even a make or break year for the former first round pick. Johnson has missed a lot of time since making a one game major league debut in the summer of 2015. Before that time his reputation was that of a solid, strike zone pounding lefty who profiles as a back of the rotation starter in the big leagues. With the Red Sox depth for starting pitching after the front six questionable, Johnson could be the first guy summoned from Pawtucket if he can return to pre-late 2015 form.

6. Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Salem {10} The projection to high A Salem may be overly aggressive and Greenville to at least start 2017 may be more likely. But the 2016 draftee tore apart Lowell and showed off his prodigious power potential. In college at Arizona, Dalbec split time between third and the mound. In fact, his pitching nearly led the Wildcats to the College World Series title. But Boston was one team that preferred him as a hitter (many teams wanted him as a pitcher), and Dalbec himself credits not having to split time pitching and hitting for his strong Lowell performance.

7. Josh Ockimey, 1B Salem {11} Ockimey had an outstanding first half of 2016 at Greenville and lagged badly in the second half. The trading of four top ten prospects this winter, has elevated Ockimey into our top seven. In 2017 at Salem, Josh will have a chance to solidify his ranking and add another power hitting legitimate prospect to the Sox system.

8. Marco Hernandez, IF, Pawtucket {13} Hernandez at times gets overlooked as a "prospect"due to his entry into the Sox system from the Cubs, where he was considered just organizational filler. Also his yo-yo ing between AAA and Boston overshadowed some of Marco's plusses. First he will play nearly all of 2017 at age 24. In his stops in Boston, Hernandez has shown an ability to hit big league pitching. If Brock Holt or another Sox infielder should suffer an injury, Marco likely is next in line. Also, if third base remains an issue for Boston, Hernandez could factor in there as well.

9. Michael Chavis, 3B, Salem {12} The 2014 first round draft pick is another player who may face a make or break 2017. Chavis is considered a potential power hitter, but his overall hit tool has been an issue in his pro career. The desire to get Chavis everyday playing time at third for Salem, could be a big factor in Bobby Dalbec having to start at Greenville rather than Salem.

10. Roniel Raudes, RHP, Salem Raudes will make his High A debut at age 19. If the Red Sox system is to push back towards the top of all MLB systems, they not only will need to add next summer strong international signees and good draft picks, but the Sox need players like Raudes to step forward. Raudes doesn't have overpowering stuff, but pitches to his spots exceptionally well. As he climbs the ladder, the question is can Raudes be successful at the higher levels using the same formula?

11. Nick Longhi, 1B, Portland {15} As Longhi reaches AA the question is can he add some power to his hitting package? Longhi had 77 RBI to lead the entire system, but has never hit the home runs associated with a corner infielder in the big leagues. With several names ahead of Longhi on the list who play a corner infield spot and who have shown power, it would behoove Nick to blast some pitches out of Hadlock Field in 2017.

12. CJ Chatham, SS, Greenville {16} Taken in the second round last June, Chatham is another player Boston is hoping can replenish their farm system. Chatham has good pop for a middle infielder, and with his college background could reach Salem before 2017 is over. Also CJ is a good candidate to rise up into the top ten on this list as the year goes on.

13. Travis Lakins, RHP, Portland {17} Last spring the Sox aggressively placed Lakins at Salem, and even though his second half at Salem was poor and somewhat injury plagued, the Sox could again push Lakins by starting his 2017 at Portland. Even if the Sox have Lakins repeat his 2016 start at Salem, a few good High A starts should move the 2015 draftee to AA.

14. Trey Ball, LHP, Portland {18} The overall number seven pick in the 2013 draft should reach AA to begin 2017. Now matter how you slice it, Ball to this point has been a disappointment. But since he was drafted from high school, he will reach Portland at age 22, and still have a chance to redeem himself. But the sands are almost out of the hourglass.

15. Kyle Martin, RHP, Pawtucket {19} Martin is a contender for the 2017 Noe Ramirez trophy. The Texas A&M product had a strong 2016 in the Pawtucket bullpen. But with no apparent openings in the Boston pen, Martin likely will spend this upcoming season bouncing back and forth from AAA to Boston. The good news for Martin is the first time he is called to help the pen in Boston will be his major league debut.

16. Chandler Shepherd, RHP, Pawtucket {20} And here is Kyle Martin's main competition in the Noe Ramirez trophy race. Unlike Martin who spent all of 2016 at AAA, Shepherd split 2016 between Portland and Pawtucket.

17. Shaun Anderson, RHP, Greenville {21} Another draftee from last June, Anderson was the closer at the Univ. of Florida. As Boston has done many times before they are stretching Anderson out and using him for now as a starter. But if Boston decides to return Anderson to the bullpen, he could rise through the system rather quickly.

18. Mike Shawaryn, RHP, Salem {23} Another product of the 2016 draft from Maryland. Many draft observers were surprised Boston was able to grab Shawaryn as low as the fifth round. Unlike the other college hurlers taken in the upper rounds of that draft, Shawaryn is considered to be able to be a starter in the big leagues.

19. Yankory Pimental, RHP, Portland {22} The 23 year old Dominican product will be one of several players on this list expected to reach Portland to start 2017. Pimental pitched effectively for Salem throughout 2016 and could be a sneaky pick to reach Boston's pen sometime in late 2017.

20. Robby Scott, LHP, Boston {NR} The one addition to our September list, Scott was elevated from just another 27 year old minor leaguer to someone on Boston's radar when the Sox surprisingly added Scott to their September roster. Scott, in the middle of a pennant race, got into seven games and did not allow an earned run in six innings pitched, while fanning seven batters. Scott, whom Boston signed from an Independent League team in 2011, comes into Boston's spring camp for the first time and seemingly will compete with Fernando Abad for a bullpen spot.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Red Sox Hot Stove Email Exchange

Hot Stove Email Exchange

Brandon TerrillWed, Dec 7, 2016 at 12:38 PM


There's been a furious flurry of hot stove action this week in Red Sox Nation, so I feel a need to have an email exchange amongst the Maineiacs to compile into a blog post. Let's kick these three prompts around for a while and see what we get:

1. I saw on Twitter today that since Dave Dombrowski has taken over, he has traded away 21 prospects from the Red Sox farm system and received 0 back in return. What do we make of this approach?

2. An article on The Ringer today by Ben Lindbergh had the following headline, "The Red Sox Just Became Prohibitive American League Favorites". Do we want to be the "winter champions" (Barry's term) heading into 2017? If not, what do we do if we are anyway?

3. What do we make of the Red Sox picking up the 2018 team option on manager John Farrell's contract in December of 2016?

Jason Allen Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 1:06 PM


It certainly has been an eventful few days. I love the idea for the post.

1. This is Dombrowski's MO. While it certainly has worked for him over the years to make his big league clubs contenders, it has also left the organizations depleted once "the window" closes. However, the Sox were able to draft and develop 21 prospects for him to trade, so as long as the minor league staffs, scouts, etc. continue to do their jobs at a high level I think the Sox will be fine in the long run. Additionally, several members on the current Sox roster were "prospects" in the recent past. Which may also be why we haven't received any prospects back? Typically, getting prospects means you are in a rebuild or overhaul which the Sox, despite all of their last places finishes in the last decade are not in the middle of.

2. I had the same thought last night that the Sox would be paper champions like the Blue Jays of a few years ago. While it certainly hasn't gone well in recent years for the teams that won the off-season, I think this is a bit of a different case, and is better than being on the other end of the off-season spectrum. As of right now, I don't see how the Sox are not the prohibitive favorite, however in my opinion they were going to at least be one of the favorites going into the season anyways. So we might as well place the crown on our heads and run with it. Weren't the Cubs the favorite all year in 2016? That worked out pretty well for Wrigleyville.

3. I don't see this as a big deal. Maybe the ownership group has learned from the 2011 saga with Tito's contract. Additionally, with Torey Lovullo now in Arizona, there is not that specter hanging over Farrell's shoulder. Is John Farrell the best manager in baseball, no, but he is also not the worst. I am also of the mindset that the players do more to effect the outcome of games than managers do. I do think that like Tito, John Farrell is a great handler of people which is paramount as a MLB manager.

Let me add a question to the mix: What becomes of Buchholz, Wright, and Pomeranz going forward? 



Terrill, Barry Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 1:13 PM


1. The weakness of this team and farm system when Dombrowski took over was pitching.  He has since brought in two stud starters and a stud reliever (Sale, Price and Kimbrel) to compliment the core of position players that already existed. Thus, turning this team into serious world series contender.  The big question mark is the rest of the bullpen outside of the closer. He had bad luck with the Carson Smith trade.  Thornburg is a stud, but he has a history of elbow problems and could be the next Carson Smith.  One knock on Dombrowski is his inability to build a bullpen. That problem is still very much an issue.

The trade off with all of these deals is long term stability.  This team could compete for a world series for 2-3 years and then turn into the Philadelphia Phillies or it could of had an Atlanta Braves type run of winning the division but never winning the world series. I'm not really sure which one of those approaches I prefer.

If injuries, bad luck or something else prevents them from winning a world series in the next 2-3 years then we could see a sharp downturn in the standings after that. But, after finishing last 3 out 5 years, I am all in on the all in mentality.  (What other choice do we have, really?!)

2. We don't want to be Winter champions. They never become the Fall champions.  But, a lot of teams were picking the Chicago Cubs last year to win it all and they came through. Which is a different thing, but still. The Red Sox of 2017 will be more than just the winter champions, they are a playoff team that added the best starting pitcher on the market.  I also really like the pick ups of Moreland and Thornburg, hopefully they will continue to build upon the bullpen through the FA market with high reward type players like Greg Holland.  

3. I'm tired of the John Farrell talk. He's the manager until he's no longer the manager.  When they pick up his extension means nothing.  


Terrill, Barry Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 1:30 PM


I'll chime in on Jason's bonus question.  Last year after the Price deal the Red Sox immediately traded Wade Miley.  I think that this year is totally different though.  All three of the pitchers that Jason mentioned have pitched out of the bullpen at different times in their careers and shown that they can be effective out of the bullpen.

I think there is a legitimate concern with Pomeranz elbow and his innings workload from last year.  He also was very good out of the bullpen in the playoffs. .  I could see him in an Andrew Miller type role for the Red Sox this season.  Right now I would give the #5 starter nod to Buchholz.  I liked the way he finished last season and he would give the rotation a little bit of R/L balance.  As a knuckleballer Wright can be the ultimate swing guy.  This guy was an All Star last year, needless to say the Red Sox don't win the division without the first half success that he had.  

Ultimately it's going to come down to which one of those three pitches better and health.  Depth in the rotation is a good problem to have especially when you know that all three can pitch out of the bullpen and be effective if necessary.  Lots of times these situations have a way of working themselves out.  

I personally would go into the season with the following 12 man pitching staff: 
5. Eduardo Rodriquez
9. Robbie Ross Jr. 

With Heath Hembree, Robbie Scott, Noe Ramirez and others around as AAA insurance (I have to admit I'm not sure about the minor league options of those three guys). Also as I mentioned I'd love to see them bring in a guy who could be a high risk high reward kind of guy like Holland to pitch the 8th inning, although Thornburg may be that guy.  

The starting pitching depth that is necessary for a full baseball season is going to have to come from the major league roster. Because there is no starting pitching depth at Pawtucket anymore (yes I'm talking to you Henry Owens).


Jason Allen Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 1:36 PM


Looks like Barry and I have similar ideas on the winter champions and John Farrell. I really like his answer on the trading of prospects as well.

As a follow-up to Barry's pitching comments, I really want Santa to deliver Greg Holland, I think he would be awesome for the bullpen. Also I believe that Heath Hembree is out of options so he either makes it or is released. Not sure about Ramirez or Scott. I also noticed that you left Carson Smith and Fernando Abad off that list. Lastly, Dombrowski in the press conference yesterday mentioned Owens and Brian Johnson as pitching depth, so put that in your smoke and pipe it, Barry!


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Winter Meetings are Here

Now that the new CBA has brought continued labor peace to baseball, the annual Winter Meetings, will go on as scheduled. The meetings run today, December 4 through the 8th.

Our focus of course is what will Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox do.  I still maintain other than signing or trading for a set up reliever, not much.  But there is an opportunity for that prediction to be very wrong.  Here are the needs for the Sox to address:

1. 8th inning reliever
2. DH to help replace David Ortiz' middle of the order bat.
3. Back of rotation/depth starting pitcher
4. Ace starting pitcher???

If something falls into Dave D's lap another possible deal could be for a third baseman good enough to replace the Pablo Sandoval-Travis Shaw-Brock Holt trio but that is less likely.

The Red Sox are expected to fill the bullpen first if possible.  Free agents Greg Holland and Luke Hochevar are mentioned as candidates.  A trade is maybe more likely, especially if the Sox lose out on Holland.

The DH candidate the Red Sox reportedly wanted the most was Carlos Beltran.  But the 40 year old vet signed with the Astros on the eve of the meetings.  Beltran signed a one year $16M deal.  If the Red Sox chose not to top that offer for a hitter they "wanted badly", then you can believe they will not throw big bucks at the top DH in the free agent market, Edwin Encarnarcion.  Dave Dombrowski said they would like a lefty bat to replace Papi's, but the market is now flooded with right handed power hitters along in age: Jose Bautista, Chris Carter, Mike Napoli, Matt Holliday, Mark Trumbo head the list.  If DD really wants a left handed bat Pedro Alvarez is on the market as well.  Many teams who want one of these FA hitters may wait and wait trying to get one of them at a reduced rate, maybe even waiting until late January.

The pitching free agent market is barren. Any starting pitcher for the back of the rotation or near the front will come from the trade market.

Speaking of the trade mart, many observers expect very heated trade activity because of the free agent market which, other than those veteran DH types, does not offer much.

Here are some teams the Red Sox could deal with:

1. Tigers. Detroit GM Al Avila has publicly stated the Tigers are looking to cut salary by trading more than one of their stars. These names rumored to be available to varying degrees include: JD Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Jordan Zimmerman, Francisco Rodriguez, Victor Martinez, Justin Verlander ,   and yes Miguel Cabrera.  But the Tigers are not in a full salary dump mode, they still intend to contend. Some have speculated the Sox dealing for Verlander and Miggy would fill two needs.  But with Verlander having 3 years left at $28M per year, and Cabrera having around $220M left on his contract the Sox likely don't have the budget for them.  A more likely Tiger target for Boston would be Victor Martinez, who somewhat mimics what Carlos Beltran could give them.

2. Royals.  Royals closer Wade Davis makes $10M which could make him available.  There would be other suitors for sure, so the cost could be two very good prospects. The Royals, like the Tigers, while looking to deal a salary or two still hope to compete in 2017. There have been reports the Royals could have interest in Clay Buchholz.  Could Buch plus a Mauricio Dubon type prospect net Davis?

3. A's.  Last winter's red hot Sonny Gray rumors have nearly evaporated after a poor, somewhat injury hampered '16 for Gray.  But if the price is down from last winter, both Dombrowski and Billy Beane are known for not being shy about trading.  Left reliever Sean Doolittle could also catch Boston's eye.

4. Mets.  If Dombrowski is determined to get a lefty bat to DH, and wants someone who can play in the field sometimes the Mets have two: outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson.  The Mets would love to find a taker for Bruce as he played poorly for them after being acquired at last summer's trade deadline from Cincy.  But overall in 2016 Bruce hit 33 home runs despite a .250 BA. Most teams inquiring about the pair prefer Granderson, but either could add some punch at the Sox DH spot.

5. White Sox. I saved the best for last.  If my prediction of a slow Red Sox Winter Meetings unravels it may be with the other Sox as a trade partner.  Chris Sale.  That is the name you will hear more than any other this week.  Sale will not turn 28 until next March 30, he has a career ERA of 3.00, and struck out 1244 hitters in 1110 career innings.  And maybe best of all, Sale is signed through 2019 for a total of $38M. He is available as the White Sox are hoping to rebuild and are very rightfully so are asking for the moon.  Because it needs to be a team with a fertile farm system, the list of contenders seem to be in no particular order: Braves, Nats, Rangers, Astros,  Dodgers, Red Sox and maybe the Yankees.  The main question is do the White Sox deal Sale to the highest bidder or do they hold on to him if none of the offers suit them.

For Boston to acquire Chris Sale the package likely has to include at least four (MAYBE three) of the following: Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada, Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Rodriguez, Blake Swihart, Michael Kopech, Rafael Devers.  Most often the rumors start with JBJ and one of the two super prospects (Benintendi or Moncada), Rodriguez, and Swihart. But in reality if the Sox include JBJ they will keep Benintendi to play center. Nor would they include both of AB and Moncada.

The other factor that could determine Boston's interest at all or the package they are willing to offer, is can they acquire someone besides Sale in the trade?  There are at least three available White Sox players who can help fill Bosox needs. First is closer David Robertson, who was at one time was the 8th inning guy for the Yankees.  He could plug the 8th inning hole Dombrowski has admitted he is looking to fill. Another is 1B-DH Jose Abreu, who has big time power.  And the Red Sox were very interested in Abreu when he came from Cuba, only to be slightly outbid by Chicago.  If the Red Sox decide to pursue another third baseman, Todd Frazier, another home run hitter is available.

I actually think the most likely current Chicago player to be in Ft. Myers with Boston for spring training is Robertson.  But here is one interesting trade proposal I read recently ( note this is not a rumor just a trade package thrown out there by a reporter): Moncada, Eduardo Rodriguez, Swihart, and Michael Kopech for Sale and Abreu. I would be hesitant to deal Moncada for anyone and  if they could rework the back of package to include someone other than Kopech, this one intrigues me.

*******************************************************************************

As the meetings commence any hot Red Sox rumors will be added to this post.  It is the most wonderful time of the year!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

It's On to 2017 Part Two

We will pick up on the state of Red Sox position by position around the roster before the winter meetings arrive in  a couple of weeks.

OUTFIELD

LF Andrew Benintendi
CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
RF Mookie Betts
OF Chris Young
U/OF Brock Holt
Bryce Brentz
?? Yoan Moncada

Recently during the General Managers Meetings in Arizona Sox boss Dave Dombrowski succinctly summed up the state for the Red Sox starting outfield listed above: "entrenched for a long time".
Despite the likelihood of other teams asking for Benintendi or the never dying rumor of JBJ being the centerpiece of a Chris Sale trade (with Benintendi taking over center field), it is very, very doubtful Dombrowski will break up his self described entrenched outfield.  Having a major league caliber defensive center fielder manning all three garden spots can only be a big positive for Boston going forward. Especially when all three can also be All Star caliber offensive assets as well.

Chris Young is nearly as entrenched for another year as the fourth outfielder who can rake lefties especially.  Brock Holt can fill in from time to time in his utility role as well.  Brentz showed he could be a capable platoon outfielder in a brief mid-2016 cameo, but his days in the Boston system will likely end before spring training rolls around.

Yoan Moncada is thrown in here as more of a long range outside possibility.  There are some scouts who feel Moncada cannot play either second or third well enough for the big leagues and will end up as an outfielder.  I am not sure if I buy this, but if ever did come to fruition down the road, that is when JBJ could be dealt, but not this winter.

STARTING ROTATION

David Price
Rick Porcello
Eduardo Rodriguez
Clay Buchholz
Drew Pomeranz
Steven Wright
Henry Owens
Brian Johnson
Roenis Elias
Michael Kopech

Despite those Chris Sale rumors mentioned above, Dombrowski seemingly threw a big bucket of cold water on Sale (or any other name starting pitcher)being acquired in this hot stove season.  Several Dave D. quotes again from the Arizona bases GM meetings included: "Starting pitching not much of a priority", " I would be surprised if we traded for a starter", " We are not in the market for a starter, because of the six guys we all ready have".  Let me remind you last winter Dombrowski was very forthright with the Sox needs he looked to fill.Take Dave at his word, the Red Sox are not adding a starting pitcher of any renown.

Your definite front three are David Price, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez.  When Porcello won the Cy Young Award this past week, he made a telling comment, admitting how much pitching in Boston bothered him his first year, 2015.  And Porcello is not the first to rebound in recent years with Josh Beckett and John Lackey being two other notable cases.  If David Price follows that path and shines in 2017 ( and that is a very strong possibility) this could take any pressure of Porcello to repeat his Cy campaign.But since Porcello only turns 28 two days after Christmas, he should still have several prime years ahead of him. And Rodriguez, who turns 24 on April 7 next spring, now has the better part of two MLB seasons under his belt and is a strong candidate to blossom.

The other three starters: Clay Buchholz, Drew Pomeranz, and Steven Wright will compete for the last two rotation spots with the odd man out holding a bullpen job.  Due to the nearly total lack of starting pitchers in the free agent market this winter, there is some speculation teams may coming asking for Buchholz.  If Boston was overwhelmed with an offer the may move Buch, but with only the three younger lefties (Owens, Johnson, Elias) as depth I think Dombrowski hangs on to everyone through the winter at least.

Kopech, who was dominating at times in the Arizona Fall League, will begin 2017 as the top of the rotation starter for the Portland Sea Dogs.  Kopech will be making his AA debut, so a big league appearance in 2017 is far from a lock.  But if Kopech treats the Eastern League at age 21 the way he did the AFL, he could see Boston next year.  Remember this about Dave Dombrowski, he is not afraid of bringing quality young starters to the big leagues.  In 2009, after only one minor league season, Dombrowski and the Tigers put their 2007 first rounder in their rotation at age 20.  That pitcher was Rick Porcello.

BULLPEN

Craig Kimbrel
Joe Kelly
Matt Barnes
Heath Hembree
Robbie Ross Jr.
Fernando Abad
Carson Smith
Brandon Workman

Three names not listed from the 2016 are three pitchers who are now free agents : Koji Uehara, Brad Ziegler, and Junichi Tazawa.  Tazawa has been worked by the Red Sox over his career like a rented mule, and barring a major surprise his days in Boston are over.  Thank you Junichi for the big outs over the years, especially striking out Miguel Cabrera in the 2013 ALCS.

As the season ended in 2016, most observers felt the Red Sox would like to bring both Koji and the recently acquired Ziegler back as bullpen depth. Many felt Ziegler would rather find a closing job elsewhere, but if not both he and Koji would be open to a return.

Either these speculations were wrong or something has changed.  Again from the GM meetings, no direct quotes but every Boston beat writer was reporting "no enthusiasm" to bring back any of the free agents.  Instead Dombrowski talked about a power arm, shut down type pitcher needed to pitch eighth innings in front of incumbent closer Craig Kimbrel. There are major free agent closers on the market, but they are not coming to Boston ( or anywhere else) to pitch eighth innings and not close.  Names heard most often are two stalwarts of recent championship Royals bullpens: Greg Holland     ( as a free agent) and Wade Davis ( who is reportedly available in trade).

If the Red Sox get fortunate they may have an in house set up man for Kimbrel.  The pitcher who was acquired a year ago: Carson Smith.  Smith who underwent Tommy John surgery last June, is expected back in June or July.  That alone would be a great mid season boost. But the Arizona air must have made Dave Dombrowski talkative, because while holding court at the GM meetings, Dombrowski opined Smith being ready for Opening Day was not out of the question.

Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes both throw in the high 90's and could be the needed eighth inning guys.  Kelly was finally assigned to the bullpen after Boston trying to make him a starter for two years.  Kelly was very effective in his late season audition.  Barnes had an up and down 2016 as he also converted full time to relieving, but also finished well late in the year.

Hembree will be out of options in 2017, so he will make the Sox pen or have to be traded.  Workman after missing nearly all of 2015 and 2016 could be a surprise contributor if healthy.

Ross Jr., Abad, and former Indy ball pitcher, Robbie Scott will compete for one or two spots for a lefty. Abad, in particular, needs to be used strictly as a lefty on lefty specialist if he has any hope of helping.

Soon the winter meetings will be upon us.  As they near we will discuss the Sox Hot Stove rumors more in depth.  But as an early prediction, I think the Sox will be relatively quiet, adding the needed bullpen arm and some type of DH. Neither may be a big name addition.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

It's On To 2017

Now that the 2016 World Series has concluded, and what a great series it was (congratulations to the Cubs and also to the Indians) it is time to look forward for our Boston Red Sox.  Despite the quick exit from the ALDS this fall, the future is very bright for the defending AL East Champs.  Almost all of the betting lines and publications early (very early!) projections for 2017 have Boston as the AL Champs right behind the Cubs as favorites to win it all next year.

Let's go around the roster, by position, with some random thoughts about the hot stove season that we are now in, and for 2017.

CATCHER

This position is one of only one or two around the diamond for Boston that is a question mark. But is almost a certainty the answer comes internally. Here are the candidates:

Sandy Leon
Christian Vazquez
Blake Swihart
Bryan Holaday

First let's say there is almost zero chance Holaday even is on the 40 man roster much longer. He is likely a non tender. Any of the other three could be the starting catcher on Opening Day 2017.  Each have question marks.  Is Sandy Leon the strong defensive catcher who cannot hit at all or is he the catcher Boston saw from June through early September this year?  His career average before 2016 was .187, and then when Boston called him up in mid season due to injury Sandy hit between .350 and .450 with power for two months or better.  Leon has to enter at least spring training as the number one.  Another somewhat little known fact about Sandy Leon is he is not that old.  He looks like and until 2016 played like a 36 year old third string catcher. Leon will not turn 28 until the middle of spring training 2017.  He is only about 1 1/2 years older than Vazquez.

Vazquez has the same basic question as Leon: can he hit enough to get his rocket arm into the daily lineup?  In Christian's favor he will be another year removed from Tommy John surgery and there is definitely a faction of Red Sox Nation who feel that Vazquez is the catcher of the future.

The first question about Blake Swihart: Does Dave Dombrowski even consider Swihart a full time catcher?  Early into 2016 the Sox moved Blake to left field.  Was this move because the Sox didn't feel Swihart was a good enough defensive catcher or was it just to get another strong bat into the line up at a time when left field was a hole?  Swihart also needs to come to Fort Myers and show his leg injury sustained while playing left field is healed.

One possible but I think highly unlikely hot stove move at catcher is the signing of free agent Wilson Ramos.  The Nationals catcher was heading to a big free agent pay day when he tore up his knee in September.  Ramos likely cannot catch until at least mid 2017.  But there is a school of thought out there that Boston could sign Ramos for shorter money due to the injury and DH him until he can catch again.

Neither Leon or Vazquez have options left, Swihart does.  Because of this I expect Leon and Vazquez to start 2017 as the two catchers and Swihart returns to AAA to further his experience as a catcher. This allows Boston to continue contractual control over all three.  Also, even if Boston does not feel Swihart can catch, other clubs will, and Swihart catching at AAA will increase his trade value.  Speaking of trade value if the Sox swing any kind of big trade this winter for pitching, Swihart could be a trade chip. But I would be very cautious of this, as I still feel Swihart has the best future of these three catchers.

CORNER INFIELD/DH

I listed this as one position because several of the candidates factor in at multiple spots here:

Hanley Ramirez
Pablo Sandoval
Travis Shaw
Brock Holt
Yoan Moncada
Sam Travis
Addition at DH

Hanley Ramirez was likely the most pleasant surprise of 2016.  First and most importantly Hanley proved he could play a very acceptable brand of first base, while hitting 30-111-.286-.361.  In most cases you would say here is our first baseman for 2017 and move on. But with the subtraction of our DH David Ortiz from the lineup due to his retirement (you may have heard about that by now), there is a hole at DH. Throughout his career, and especially in 2016 when giving Big Papi some days off, Ramirez' numbers at DH are better than when he is also playing in the field.  Late in the year when being interviewed by Peter Abraham of the Globe Ramirez was asked if he would like to be full time DH, he responded " hell, yes".  Ramirez them caught himself and added, " but I'll do whatever the team wants. In addition there has been some concern that the reason Ramirez has been a good teammate and citizen while in Boston, despite his checkered NL past, was the presence of Ortiz.  Without Ortiz around everyday, how will Hanley behave is the worry.  I suggest that if Ramirez was handed the mantel of Big Papi's successor this might mitigate any issues the absence of Ortiz may present.

For all of you who would just like Fat Pablo Sandoval to go away, even if the Red Sox release him and eat (no pun intended) the tens of millions remaining on his long term contract, I remind you of Hanley Ramirez from last winter. No Sandoval is not going to, nor ever has, hit 30 home runs with over 100 RBI. But Pablo is only 30 years old and has a career BA of .288.  Recent photos have shown an apparently slimmed down Panda, and if Pablo is in just a little better shape than 2015-16 he could still be an asset.  With multi millions still owed to him through 2019, he will at least be given a chance to win back a job...likely at third, but first base and DH also in the mix.

Travis Shaw hit 16 home runs with 71 RBI in his first full big league campaign, while playing a solid third base.  But Shaw tailed off as the year wound down, and he finished hitting only.242 with an OBP of .306.  For the second spring training in a row, the Red Sox will let Sandoval and Shaw compete for a job.  As with Sandoval, Shaw could be in the mix at third, first, of DH.  Shaw could also be a trade chip this winter.

If both, Sandoval and Shaw fall flat, or play as the first baseman or DH more than third, Brock Holt could become the "regular" third baseman.  But this would be a sub optimal Red Sox lineup, Holt is more of an asset to Boston when he can fulfill the super utility role.

Both prospects Yoan Moncada and Sam Travis are almost certainly ticketed to begin 2017 at Pawtucket. And both seemingly could use the AAA experience of at least a half a year.  Moncada the top rated prospect for Boston was promoted from Portland late in the season, and after getting a couple of big league hits, he struck for his last nine at bats.  Moncada had a propensity of the K in the minor leagues, too. At the very end of the 2016 season at Portland Moncada was shifted from second base to third.  So adjusting to his new position, and trying to cut down at least some on striking out, are his goals to work on at AAA.  For those you overly worried about Moncada's K rate in the minors, go check out the K rates for the Cubs Javier Baez.  I can tell you they are very similar to Moncada's, and like Baez there is no reason to think in a year or two Moncada will not be a similarly impressive young big leaguer as Baez.

Sam Travis began last year at AAA, but will need more time there because a torn ACL kept him out from Memorial Day on. Travis was very impressive in the big camp spring training last year, and was off to a good AAA start.  Sam Travis with another good April and May could push his way into the picture in Boston.  Both or either of Travis and Moncada could be ready to contribute in Boston by late June or so.  Depending on how confident the Red Sox are in this pair,  they may influence the route the Sox go to replace David Ortiz externally.

It is almost a cinch the Red Sox will bring in one veteran bat to help replace Papi's production.  I will not go into detail now on the candidates, later this off season we will delve more into free agent and trade rumors.  But let me just say for all of the free agent signing rumors of the Jays' Edwin Encarnarcion, he would cost the Sox $80-120M and perhaps more importantly their first round draft pick ( unless the soon to be handed down new CBA changes the free agent compensation). I see the Red Sox first target being Carlos Beltran, who they tried hard to acquire from the Yankees at the last trade deadline.  As opposed to the barren starting pitching free agent market, there are many bats available if the Sox want to add to their current DH options.

MIDDLE INFIELD

Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Brock Holt
Marco Hernandez
Mauricio Dubon

No much to say here, the middle infield combo for Boston in 2017 and beyond will be Dustin Pedroia at second and Xander Bogarts at shortstop.  The only questions for Bogaerts are was his weak hitting for the end of 2016 a fluke, and will his power continue to develop after jumping to 21 long balls in 2016.  Expect the X man to continue to rise in home runs to maybe the 25 range and his BA to be closer to 2015's .320 rather than 2016's perfectly acceptable .294.

The only question for Pedroia is when does his age and injury history catch up with him? 2016 was a banner season of 15-74-.318-.376. Now he is the elder statesman on this team and will turn 34 next August, how many more seasons like 2016, does Dustin have left?

Both Holt and Marco Hernandez are utility types who would only see extensive playing time in the middle infield if there was an injury to the incumbents.

The 22 year old Dubon pushed his way onto the fringe of the Boston 2017 picture with a sterling 2016 season.  Mauricio began the '16 season as Salem, and was promoted to Portland ahead of heralded teammates Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada.  Dubon hit .306 for Salem  and drove in 29 despite having no home runs.  Dubon who has played both second and short in the Sox system, hit even better for the Sea Dogs: .339 with with 40 RBI, with the added power of 6 home runs, 6 triples, and 20 doubles. The Red Sox rewarded Dubon by assigning him to the Arizona Fall League, where he played well enough to make the AFL All Star team.  Like Moncada and Travis, Dubon should open 2017 at Pawtucket making his AAA debut.  Dubon could make himself the first option behind Pedey and Xander with a strong AAA showing.  His strong 2016 right through the AFL also makes Dubon a very attractive trade piece for this winter.

In upcoming posts RSM will examine the Red Sox in the outfield, utility roles, and on the mound.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

ALDS Live Chat Red Sox @ Indians

Welcome to game one of the 2016 ALDS! Come chat with us live!
Live Blog ALDS Live Chat Red Sox @ Indians
 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Thoughts on the Red Sox-Indians ALDS and Beyond

For the first time since 2013 and only the second since 2009 the Red Sox are back in the ALDS. They will face Terry Francona's pitching-depleted Cleveland Indians. The Sox may well have been favored in this matchup anyway, but with the Tribe rotation missing Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, and with ace Corey Kluber hurting as well, the Sox should be prohibitive favorites to move on.  Here are a few things to watch for (worry about) for Red Sox fans.

* The Red Sox rotation.  I said it in mid September and I will say it again, Boston has the best rotation in the American League and it is not even close.  No team can match the front two of Rick Porcello and David Price (OK maybe, Texas with Hamels and Darvish, but their rotation is non existent after that).  Not only is Porcello the Cy Young favorite and Price one of the top pitchers in the game, but they have multiple years of post season experience.  Price has been in the AL playoffs every year since 2008 except 2009 and 2012.  And you just know that Price would like to turn in a Madison Bumgarner type post season to quiet his critics.  The next two, Eduardo Rodriguez and Clay Buchholz, are not sure bets, but are very capable of going out and pitching shutout ball for the Bostons.

*Kan Kimbrel, Koji, Kelly, and Kompany klose out the games?  The return of Koji Uehara from the DL to the eighth inning, has solidified all the other roles it seems.  Choices like Brad Ziegler, Joe Kelly, and Robbie Ross Jr. can be used in the seventh or at any appropriate times.  Starter Drew Pomeranz opened eyes on the last day of the regular season coming out of the bullpen and hitting 96 on the gun.  Drew could be a weapon, he has a career 2.14 ERA out of the pen in 54 games. Kimbrel staggered the last week, but his overall numbers for the year are All Star caliber.  Kimbrel must be able to pitch shut down ninth innings, if the Red Sox are to go all the way.

* Big Papi, David Ortiz.  Ortiz put up a final regular season beyond our wildest dreams, hitting 38 home runs and tying for the league lead with 127 RBI with an OPS of over 1.000.  So the question is can Big Papi add one more World Series ring by adding another heroic post season to his resume?  If there is any doubt of his Hall of Fame credentials at this point ( and I do not think there is), one more title that Ortiz plays a leading role in obtaining, would seal the first ballot deal.

* The kids are all right.  Xander Bogaerts received 27 at bats in the 2013 post season, including playing in six World Series games. But all of the rest of the young stars who drive this team: MVP candidate Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi ( and maybe, just maybe Travis Shaw), along with the aforementioned Eduardo Rodriguez are all brand new to the glare of post season spotlight.  But especially with all of the young outfielders, their personalities and the demands of playing in Boston, should allow them to prosper in the playoffs.  I feel that one of the B-Boys may well be the World Series MVP (if Papi doesn't edge them out on sentimentality points).

* What will the Red Sox get from Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez?  Both vets had outstanding regular seasons.  Pedey has struggled in past ALDS hitting only .153, but a robust .325 in ALCS of the past.  Hanley appeared in the NLDS in both 2013 and 2014 for the Dodgers and hit a combined .467 (14 for 30).  Both of the former Portland Sea Dogs double play combo seemed primed for big post seasons.

* The defense never rests.  One of the underrated facets of this Red Sox team is their overall defensive play.  They have Gold Glove candidates in Pedroia, Bradley Jr., and Betts.  Andrew Benintendi in left( and Cleveland has all right handed starters) gives Boston three top notch center fielders manning all of the garden.  The catching is in fine hands defensively whether Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez, or even Ryan Hanigan are behind the dish.  The Sox could steal a game with their defense.

* Base Running. And speaking of stealing a game, the high stolen base percentage the Sox sported for the first half of the campaign has come down some, but they still take the extra base, and score from second or even first as effectively as any other team in baseball.

Prediction time.  Okay, I am biased, sue me.  But many national media members are picking the Red Sox to prevail in October (November?).  Here is my shot at the Boston post season:

ALDS

 Boston over Cleveland in 4 ( I really think a sweep is likely, but I am hedging).  Boston pitching is just fine, but the Sox win by battering the crippled Indians rotation.

ALCS

Boston over Baltimore ( who best the Jays and takes Texas in 7) in six games.  Boston clinches the pennant on the Fenway sod, behind ALCS MVP Xander Bogaerts.  One more prediction, Boston wins one of their games by beating Zach Britton in the ninth inning.

Peek at the NL

Giants win the wild card game and then lose to Cubs in 7, Dodgers best Nats in 5.  Cubs, despite nearly wilting under the tremendous pressure of breaking their non-World series streak, edge Dave Roberts' club in 7, reaching the Fall Classic for the first time since the end of World War Two.

World Series

Cubs spend all they have just getting to a World Series and Boston repeats the 2004 and 2007 script and sweeps the Cubs.  All three of the B-boy outfielders hit home runs, but David Ortiz has three home runs ( two in the Game Two shutout by David Price) and Big Papi goes out on top as World Series MVP.



Sunday, September 18, 2016

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects Season End Edition


Another minor league season is in the books, and as the big league club steams towards an AL East title, we will take time to rank the kids on the farm one last time for 2016. Although it was not a successful season in terms of wins and losses (with only Salem and Lowell making their playoffs- each eliminated quickly) there were a number of outstanding performances.  Some of these were by the biggest names on the farm, others were breakout seasons.

The team(s) listed behind each player this time are where the player spent the majority of his season.  The number in { } is the August ranking. The slash line for hitters is HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS, for hurlers W-L/ERA/WHIP/K-BB.

Let's take a look at the best the Red Sox system has to offer at the end of 2016.

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B-3B Salem-Portland {1}.  Moncada maintained his number one ranking all year long. And with the gentleman sitting a number two, that alone says much about Moncada.  Moncada raked at both levels: 4/34/.307/.427/.923 at Salem and exhibiting more home run power for the Portland Sea Dogs: 11/28/.277/.379/.910.  The numbers along with 40 additional extra base hit on top of the 15 home runs and his 45 stolen bases lead Baseball America to name Moncada as their minor league player of the year.  Moncada becomes the first Red Sox farmhand to win this prestigious award, which has been given out since 1981. But not the first Portland Sea Dog.  Josh Beckett won in 2001, while Portland was a Marlins affiliate. Moncada was recalled to Boston as the minor league season wound down.  Yoan had four quick hits, but is currently mired in a streak of nine straight strikeouts. Moncada has also been assigned to play in the Arizona Fall League, where he will get more work at third and hitting the off speed pitching. Expect Yoan to begin 2017 at AAA, but with a likely mid-2017 arrival in Boston, this time for good.

2. Andrew Benintendi, OF Salem-Portland-Boston {2}.  The 2015 first round draftee began 2016 by terrorizing the Carolina League: 1/32/.341/.413/.976 with 13 doubles and 7 triples. After a recall to Portland and a slow first 50 at bats or so, the onslaught continued in AA with the addition of the home run to his game: 8/44/.295/.357/.872 with 18 doubles and 5 triples. After Dave Dombrowski refused many trade requests for Benintendi at the August 1 deadline, he was recalled to Boston and made his MLB debut the next night.  He has not stopped hitting since reaching the show either: 1/10/.324/.364/.957 with 7 doubles, a triple, and 11 runs scored through September 17.  The only thing that has slowed Benintendi is a left knee sprain suffered on the bases in late August.  The injury was first thought to be season ending, but was not and Benintendi is back in the Boston lineup after being activated from the DL on September 13.  It will be very surprising if Andrew Benintendi is not a starting everyday outfielder for Boston in 2017 from Opening Day on.

3. Rafael Devers, 3B Salem {3}. There are very, very few systems in which Rafael Devers would not be the number one prospect. And Devers has his supporters. One unnamed scout recently was quoted in the Boston media as saying he felt Devers combined the best of Moncada's power and Benintendi's hitting tool.  After a very slow start to 2016, the nineteen year old ripped through the Carolina League in the second half, for example hitting .357 with 8 home runs in July.  Rafael finished the 2016 campaign with:11/71/.282/.335/.779 with 32 doubles and 8 triples.  Devers also scored 64 runs.  His 142 hits were second in the system, and he was in the top 6 in runs and RBI.  It has been long speculated that Devers would have to move off third, but he played very well defensively, in fact the Red Sox named Devers as the system defensive player of the year in their post season awards.  After spending all of 2016 at Salem (as expected), Devers, who turns 20 next month, is set to be in the Opening Day lineup for Portland in 2017.  Unless Dave Dombrowski uses Devers as a chip in an off season deal.  In order to pry Devers from Boston, it would have to be a very major trade.

4. Michael Kopech, RHP Salem {4}. After overcoming a broken hand suffered in a spring training off the field fracas, Kopech was dominate for nearly all of his time in Salem.  After pitching the Lowell Spinners opening game in June, Kopech reported to Salem. In 11 starts spanning 52 innings pitched, Kopech put up this line: 4-1/2.25/1.04/82-29.  Kopech's ERA was actually even better until he was rocked in his last start.  Kopech also pitched poorly in a Salem playoff game.  The most talked about number posted by Kopech was the reported 105 mph pitch he threw in a mid season game.  Kopech was assigned to the Arizona Fall League, where he will get back some of the innings lost to his hand injury and 2015's suspension.  Kopech should be on the mound for Opening Day 2017 for the Portland Sea Dogs.

5. Jay Groome, LHP GCL-Lowell {5} The first round draft pick this June at #12 overall signed with Boston near the the July 15 deadline.  The Sox sent him to Florida, where he worked on adjusting the the pro life at age 18. In late August Groome (who prefers to go by Jay rather than his given name of Jason) did pitch in two GCL games striking out 8 with no walks over four innings. Groome gave up three hits and a run. Jay ended his season by pitching a game for Lowell, another 2.2 innings and also made a post season appearance for the Spinners.  Groome also leads the names of players going to the Red Sox Instructional League this fall. Since the Lowell season does not begin until June, there is a strong chance Jay Groome begins 2017 with Greenville.  This would for the second straight year put a highly rated 18 year old pitcher in the Drive rotation.

6. Sam Travis, 1B  Pawtiucket {6} Travis, who was outstanding for Boston in spring training, continued to impress with a fast start at Pawtucket. His line was 6/29/.272/.332/.765 with ten doubles and 26 runs scored through May 29.  But on that date Travis tore his left ACL on the bases and missed the rest of 2016.  That ended his AAA debut after 47 games and 173 at bats.  Because of the limited AAA experience, it is very likely Sam begins 2017 back at Pawtucket.  Depending on how the Red Sox address the DH-1B situation after David Ortiz retires at the end of 2016, Travis could be in the mix by mid-2017.

7. Mauricio Dubon, SS Salem-Portland {10} Dubon, who began the year at #15 on the RSM rankings, reaches his highest point after an outstanding season: 6/69/.323/.379/.840 with 31 doubles, 9 triples, and 101 runs scored combining his time at A and AA. His 157 hits led the entire system as did the 101 runs scored.  He was second in BA and OBP. He hit even better for Portland than he did at Salem, hitting .339 with all six of his home runs for the Sea Dogs.  Dubon now profiles as a shortstop in the major leagues, but of course, Xander Bogaerts' presence precludes Dubon starting at short for Boston. Dubon could also play second, which he has done in the Boston system.  Most likely Dubon will be used as a trade chip, and after the 2016 outburst, this winter may be a time to sell high.

8. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF Greenville {8} Like Rafael Devers at Salem, Basabe was a highly regarded prospect who had a slow start to 2016.  Also like Devers, Basabe came on like gangbusters.
Luis finished at 12/52/.258/.325/.772 with 24 doubles and 8 triples, scoring 61 runs for the Drive.  Near the end of August, Basabe was promoted to Salem, going 8 for 22 in five games.  Basabe, also had the make the social adjustment of having his twin brother and Drive teammate, Luis Alejandro, traded in mid season to Arizona for Brad Ziegler.  Basabe will return for a longer stint in Salem to begin 2017, and do not be surprised if he moves in the top 5 Sox prospects in 2017.

9. Brian Johnson, LHP Pawtucket {7}.  Johnson had an up and down season that was punctuated by missing a substantial portion of year in mid season as he dealt with depression issues.  Johnson pitched better after he returned, but his calling card of great command of the strike zone faltered.  Brian ended the season with an ERA of 4.09.  The Red Sox chose not to recall Johnson in September as a depth starter, opting for Henry Owens instead.  2017 will be a pivotal year in Johnson's Red Sox career.  If he returns to his early 2015 form, he could contend for a rotation spot in Boston by mid 2017.  If not he may be considered organizational depth or could be traded.

10. Bobby Dalbec, 3B Lowell {23}. In the fourth round of this June's draft, the Sox grabbed Dalbec who had led the Cape Cod League in home runs in 2015.  This followed a strong sophomore season at Arizona.  Big time power is Dalbec's strong suit, but during his junior campaign at Arizona, he became known for striking out in big amounts.  The Sox signed Dalbec right after the College World Series, assigned him to Lowell and watched him erupt. In 34 games for the Spinners, Dalbec received 134 at bats and hit: 7/33/.386/.427/1.101 with 13 doubles and a pair of triples.  Because of Dalbec's major college background, it would not be surprising to see Boston push him.  Beginning 2017 at Salem rather than Greenville should be a real likelihood.  And if Dalbec continues to hit for power and average and limits his strikeouts, Dalbec could see Hadlock Field before 2017 is over. Between Jay Groome, Dalbec, and several college pitchers the 2016 draft could be seen as a bonanza for the Red Sox.

11. Josh Ockimey, 1B Greenville {9} After playing for short seasons teams in 2014 and 2015 (GCL and Lowell), the 20 year old burst on the scene at Greenville.  His 18 home runs cemented his spot as one of the best Sox power prospects.  But since 2016 was the first year spent with a full season team, Ockimey faded in the second half, finishing with just a .226 batting average.  But not only his power, but an OBP of .367 fueled by bushels of base on balls, offset the .226 BA somewhat.  The fact that Ockimey was a high school draftee from the northeast (Philly) in 2014, adds to the belief he just tired out this year. In 2017 at age 21 he will report to Salem, and this time he will be expected to hit over the entire campaign, if he is to be considered an elite prospect.

12. Michael Chavis, 3B Greenville {11}. Chavis returned for a second season at Greenville, and got off to a blazing start. But he injured his right thumb in April, and missed a month or so.  After his return, the numbers leveled off and he finished his Greenville year at: 8/35/.244/.321/.711.  Like Luis Basabe, at the very end of the season, Chavis was sent up to Salem for a handful of at bats. Chavis went 4 for 25 at Salem. Despite flashes of his reputed power, Chavis has now hit under .250 for each of his two seasons for the Drive.  His 2017 assignment to Salem should produce a pivotal year for Chavis, although he will still be just 21.

13. Marco Hernandez, IF Pawtucket-Boston {12}. Because of the way the Red Sox utilized Hernandez, it is somewhat difficult to judge him as a "prospect".  But there is no question Hernandez has gone from joining the Sox system to begin 2015, in a trade from the Cubs, as just another guy to a player who has hit .311 in 45 major league at bats this year. It is not out of the question that Marco could be on the Red Sox post season roster.

14. Roniel Raudes, RHP Greenville {15}. This 18 year old was named by the team as the Red Sox minor league pitcher of the year.  He spent the entire season at Greenville as one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League. His line of: 11-6/3.65/1.19/104-23 came in 24 starts for a total of 113.1 innings. His fastball is only at 89-91, but his success is predicated on outstanding control.  Although the Red Sox expect his velocity to increase as he matures.  Raudes will spend his age 19 season in the Carolina League, where again he will one of the youngest players in his league.

15. Nick Longhi, 1B Salem {13} Longhi continues his one level per season climb up the Red Sox system, spending 2013-15 at GCL, Lowell, and Greenville before spending this whole season at Salem. Longhi put another solid season, with his 77 RBI and 40 doubles each leading the Red Sox system.  With players like Sam Travis and Travis Shaw ahead of Nick, and Josh Ockimey behind, the competition for future time at first base in Boston could be fierce, although Longhi also has limited outfield playing time.  For now Longhi will continue his one step at at time trip up the ladder, by opening 2017 as the first baseman in Portland.

16. CJ Chatham, SS Lowell {14}. CJ was the first of the higher Red Sox draft picks to sign this summer.  The second rounder made a brief 24 at bat cameo in the Gulf Coast League, then was promoted to Lowell.  Chatham hit a respectable 4/19/.259/.319/.745 while scoring 19 runs for Lowell. 2017's Opening day assignment should be as starting shortstop for Greenville. Chatham along Bobby Dalbec and most of the other 2016 high draft picks will report to the Instructional League.

17. Travis Lakins, RHP Salem {16} This 2015 draftee from Ohio State pitched only a couple of innings for Lowell in 2015 and made GCL playoff appearance.  But for all intents and purposes, Lakins made his pro ball debut for high A Salem.  This assignment shows how highly regarded Lakins is by Boston. And Travis began the campaign with a couple of strong months.  His numbers fell precipitously in the second half.  In early August, Lakins was placed on the DL with right elbow inflammation. He did make 19 starts for 91 innings, so his 2017 could begin back in Salem, or a strong training camp could push him to Portland.

18. Trey Ball, LHP Salem {17}. The former first round draftee began the season on the DL with a leg injury.  When healthy, Ball returned to Salem for a second season. His overall numbers were acceptable: 8-6/3.84/1.61/86-68.  But as you can see from the WHIP and K to BB ratio, Ball's command continues to be an issue.  The ERA is actually his best to date.  In 2017, Ball will report to Portland, and at age 22, still has time to take a step forward. Before that Ball will pitch for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League.

19. Kyle Martin, RHP Pawtucket {18} The tall 6'7" righty, taken in the 2013 draft in the ninth round from Texas A&M, spent all of 2016 in Rhode Island, after a spring training invite with the big club. Martin was effective out of the pen exclusively: 3-4/3.37/1.18/78-21 with six saves.  However, despite the numbers one wonders with all of the bodies shuffling in and out of the Boston pen, why was Martin not tried? In spring training 2017, Martin, who began the year as #29 on our list, should be in competition for a Boston bullpen spot.

20. Chandler Shepherd, RHP Portland-Pawtucket {19} Shepherd is the other top bullpen prospect in the upper levels of the system. Shepherd split the season between AA and AAA and pitched well in both spots. In 40 games over both levels Shepherd complied 7 saves in 64 innings.  Shepherd will likely go back to Pawtucket to begin 2017, with a call to Boston a possibility.

21. Shaun Anderson, RHP Lowell {20} The third rounder from this year draft was the closer at the Univ. of Florida.  The Sox will use Anderson as starter initially.  Anderson' s brief cameo with Lowell did not go well at all. In two games, Anderson pitched 2.2 innings giving up 12 hits and 9 runs for an ERA of 30.38.  But in reality Anderson will begin his pro baseball journey in 2017, likely in Greenville.

22. Yankory Pimental, RHP Salem {22} This Dominican righty, who will turn 23 on September 29, was a season long relief ace for Salem.  In 32 games pitched, Yankory hurled 78 innings posting a line of 9-6/3.12/1.37/70-36 with four saves. Pimental will arrive in Portland to begin 2017, and from that platform will hope to push for a bullpen spot in Boston by late 2017 or 2018.

23. Mike Shawaryn, RHP Lowell {21} Another right handed college pitcher (Maryland) grabbed by Boston in this year's draft. Mike was drafted in the fifth round and paid an over slot bonus of $637,500. Shawaryn also dipped his toe into the pro ball water at Lowell. Unlike Shaun Anderson, Shawaryn had a very good 0-1/2.87/1.40/22-7 in six games for 15.2 innings. With a number of potential starters for Greenville, there is a chance the Red Sox could push Shawaryn up to Salem a la Travis Lakins in '16.

24. Tate Matheny, OF Greenville {24} The son of the Cardinals manager compiled a very nice second pro season.  In 2015 Tate hit only .181 in nearly 200 at bats for Lowell.  But it was a different story in Grenville this year: 5/52/.277/.324/.706 with 20 doubles, four triples, and scored 59 runs.  In many quarters, Matheny is not considered a bona fide big league prospect.  But could he follow in the foot steps of another recent Sox minor leaguer who is the son of a former big leaguer, Travis Shaw? Next year at Salem could be a step towards answering that.

25. Jake Cosart, RHP Greenville-Salem {28} If you are looking for a bullpen ace who could be quickly on the rise through the system, it could the brother of big leaguer, Jared Cosart. Jake has a big time high 90's fastball and he compiled great numbers at both stops: 4-1/2.05/1.16/76-25 with 4 saves at Greenville and 0-0/1.00/1.00/28-11 in 18 innings for Salem.  Cosart should begin 2017 in the Sea Dogs bullpen, although a return to Salem for a few more Class A innings is not out of the question.

26.Yoan Aybar, OF Lowell {25} The international signee who first signed with Boston on his sixteenth birthday in 2013, struggled offensively in Lowell. After hitting.271 and .268 the previous two seasons in the DSL and GCL, Aybar finished 2016 for Lowell at .207.  But the nineteen year old did hit his first three pro home runs. Despite the low BA, Aybar is on target to play for the Grenville Drive next year.  Aybar is also the "lottery ticket" kind of prospect that could be included in a trade package by Boston this winter.

27. Justin Haley, RHP Portland-Pawtucket {NR} This big 6'5" righty makes his debut for the year on this list. Haley was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 draft from Fresno State.  Haley first arrived in Portland on July 29, 2014 after a strong Salem performance.  But then Haley after finishing 2014 in Maine, spent all of 2015 there (5-16, 5.15 ERA) and returned to Portland to begin 2016. Haley was one of the few bright lights for the early season Sea Dogs going: 5-4/2.20/1.10/59-19 in a dozen starts earning his long awaited promotion to AAA.  Haley then made 15 more starts for Pawtucket and pitched nearly as well as he did in AA: 8-6/3.59/1.12/67-26. Haley capped his strong season by pitching his best game of the year in his last start: 8 scoreless innings allowing 2 hits with 7 strikeouts. Haley will turn 26 next June, so it may be his time to compete for a big league job.  Haley will need to be placed on the 40 man roster this winter or the Sox run risk of losing Haley in the Rule 5 draft.

28. Josh Pennington, RHP Lowell {34}Another pitcher making his debut in our top 30, after an honorable mention in August. Pennington was drafted out of a New Jersey high school in the 29th round in 2014.  He dropped way down the draft due to needing Tommy John surgery in high school.  Pennington signed somewhat unexpectedly, and sat out all of '14 and spent all of 2015 in the GCL. In 2016 Pennington pitched for Lowell: 5-3/2.86/1.16/49-27 in 13 games for 56.2 frames.  Now that Pennington is healthy, and still just 21,  Boston may have stolen a top prospect in the 29th round back in 2014.

29. Jaleen Beeks, LHP Salem-Portland This 5'11" lefty was drafted in the 2014 in the 12th round out of the Univ. of Arkansas (the next year the Sox grabbed Andrew Benintendi from the same school).  After pitching five innings in the GCL in 2014, Beeks made his full season debut in 2015 spending the whole year at Greenville going 9-7 with 100 strikeouts with only 28 walks in 145 innings. Beeks made his high A debut this year at Salem after compiling a 3.07 ERA in 13 starts, he was pushed up to Portland.  For the Dogs Beeks went: 5-4/4.68/1.5356-28 in 13 more starts. Beeks will continue his efforts to impress the Sox by pitching in the Arizona Fall League.

30. Kyri Washington, OF Greenville {35} Kyri sneaks back into the top 30, where he debuted for the first time earlier this year. Washington finished:16/73/.262/.323/.810 with 20 doubles and 9 triples and scored 51 runs in a complete campaign spent in Greenville. Washington is at best a borderline prospect, but his 16 home runs were third in the system behind AAAA player Chris Marrero and Josh Ockimey. The power, if Kyri can sustain it, could be his calling card.

Here are another baker's dozen names that were under consideration for this list:

* Luis Ysla: made his AAA debut in last appearance of the year
*Austin Rei: U of Washington product hit only .212 at Greenville
* Steve Nogosek: Another  college righty drafted in June's draft
*Teddy Stankiewicz: August 2 pitched first complete game one hitter in Sea Dogs history
*Austin Glorius: signed in 2015 as undrafted pitcher from Valdosta State, 3.20 ERA in '16
* Marc Brakeman: 15th rounder in '15 from Stanford, 76K/19BB in 2016 for Greenville
*Aneury Tavarez:  outfielder second in EL with .335 BA, first strong season in Sox system
*Williams Jerez: lefty spent all of 2016 in Portland pen with 4.71 ERA
*Henry Ramos: AAA debut in mid season, hit .247, returned to Portland (hit .281 at AA)
*Devin Marrero: former top ten prospect finishes below Mendoza line at AAA: .198
* Bryce Brentz: played at Portland, Pawtucket & Boston, hit the best in Boston .279 w/ 1st MLB HR
* Jamie Callahan: assigned to Arizona Fall League
* Noe Ramirez : just enough MLB games to show he is just bullpen filler

That brings a close to this minor league season.  During the winter between the winter meetings and spring training, RSM will review the list again updating for any changes due to trades, fall/winter league performances, or just a change of heart by RSM as some 2016 performances may be re-evaluated.

Go Sox bring home another trophy!