Wednesday, June 3, 2015

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects- June 2015 Edition

There is little change in our Top Ten with the same ten names as last month, with some shuffling of rankings.  However the wind of change is ablowin  and by July this list could look very different.

For the first time in our rankings four of our top ten players are currently playing in Boston.  All four of these players are on pace to graduate off from this list if not in June certainly by July.  Here are the criteria that rule when a player is no longer rookie eligible and therefore no longer a "prospect":

130 at bats for hitters
50 innings pitched for hurlers
45 days on a MLB 25 man roster ( in other words September call up days do not count)

In addition to the pending graduations, the Red Sox will add a top prospect on June 8 with the number seven overall pick in the MLB draft. Players taken in other rounds could also show up here.

Another factor which could alter our list is the possibility of a trade by the big club which would include one or several of these names.  The more the Red Sox flounder the more this trade looms.

As usual the team listed after the player is his team as of the start of this month.  The lines used:

Hitters:  HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS

Pitchers: W-L/ERA/WHIP/K-BB

June's Top 30:

1. Blake Swihart, C- Boston {1}  Of course the big news on Swihart is that he was recalled from AAA on May 2 and played the entire month in the major leagues.  Swihart, who was hitting .338 at Pawtucket, did not explode onto the scene with his bat.  But he has been very solid behind the plate and more and more there are flashes of his plus bat.  Blake ended May with a seven game hitting streak. Swihart will reach his 45 days in the show by June 17, and unless the Sox make an abrupt U-turn behind the plate, Swihart should remain with Boston at least until Ryan Hanigan ( whose injury precipitated Swihart's premature recall) returns which seems to be in July at the earliest.  This will take Swihart off our list.

2. Yoan Moncada, 2B- Greenville {3} In mid-May Yoan finally was let loose from extended spring training and assigned to the loaded Greenville Drive.  By the end of the month, Moncada had gathered 35 at bats with a line of 1/5/.257/.316/.744 with a double and a triple.  The expectations when Moncada signed were that he could reach Portland this season have seemingly diminished due to the longer than expected time in Florida.  But if his bat heats up, Salem could on his travel itinerary later this summer.

3. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP- Boston {6}  Eduardo's outstanding big league debut on May 28 in Texas just cemented an all ready deserved move up our top ten.  Rodriguez pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed no runs on only three hits with seven strikeouts.  His overall line at AA was 4-3/2.98/1.10/44-7.  Eduardo has a golden opportunity to grab a spot in the Red Sox rotation and not let it go for a very long time.  Another half dozen starts like his first would also graduate the big lefty from our list.

4. Brian Johnson, LHP- Pawtucket {5} Johnson has put up a line at Pawtucket that is very similar to fellow lefty Rodriguez: 6-3/2.60/1.07/57-17 in ten starts.  This puts Johnson up on deck as the next AAA pitcher to get a crack at the Red Sox rotation.  The upcoming performances of Sox pitchers like Rodriguez, Steven Wright (and there will be no more waffling about the type of "prospect" Wright is, he has graduated), Joe Kelly, and Justin Masterson may determine when Johnson gets his big league shot.  Johnson capped off his May on the 29th with a start of six perfect innings with nine strikeouts.

5. Rafael Devers, 3B- Greenville {8} Devers ended April with a fine .308 batting average but with no home runs and only six RBI.  There were questions of when his vaunted power would arrive.  The answer was May 3rd.  In the Drive game that day, Devers went five for six, with two home runs and two doubles.  He has not looked back as he tore through the month of May ending it with a twelve game hitting streak.  His line for May was 3/16/.364/.394/.970 with ten doubles and a triple.  His overall BA of .341 at the end of May leads the South Atlantic League.  And Devers is doing all of this at age 18.  Despite the beating the SAL is taking from Devers, he may spend the entire season there because he is only 18.

6. Manuel Margot, OF  Salem {4}  Margot had a lost month in May.  After trying to play through an injury in the early month he finally told the club he was hurting and was on the DL from May 13 to 30. In 37 AB's he only hit .135. June could be a key month for Margot, as attempts to reach Portland before 2015 is over.

7. Rusney Castillo, OF- Boston {2} Castillo takes the biggest plunge down the list from two to seven.  Admittedly, this may be a knee jerk reaction to Castillo's performance (or lack of same) in his limited Red Sox career.  But to date since signing Castillo last August there has mostly been only a string of nagging injuries through the fall league, winter ball, spring training and at AAA.  In addition to the injuries there has been a succession of misplayed fly balls (and some spectacular catches, too) and examples of what seem to be poor baseball instincts.  Rusney is now playing in Boston and has a chance to grab a job.  If he does the debate over Rusney will take place in a different forum, because he too is on the verge of graduating from this list.

8. Henry Owens, LHP- Pawtucket {7} Owens has lagged behind the other two lefties at the front of the Paw Sox rotation.  Henry has definitely struggled with his command at AAA.  For the year Owens has 42 strikeouts versus 35 base on balls.  Despite the control issues Owens' ERA is only 3.15.  Owens is not yet on the Red Sox 40 man roster, so between that fact and his command issues, Owens is likely looking at an entire season at Pawtucket.  But if the 6'7' left hander can harness his pitches, he may still yet be the best major league hurler of the three Paw Sox lefties.

9. Matt Barnes, RHP- Boston {9} The fourth member of the top ten currently in Boston, and Barnes may have the most secure spot of the four.  Converted to the bullpen from his minor league career as a starter, Barnes has pitched in various bullpen roles, long relief, one inning at a time, and nearly every thing in between.  Barnes picked up his first two big league wins in May, with an ERA of 2.02.  Barnes is also looking at graduating from this list by July.

10. Michael Kopech, RHP- Greenville {10} The Sox have been carefully handling the first round pick from 2014.  His line for the year to date is 2-2/2.76/1.10/38-11.  Kopech has pitched in eight games for a total of 32 2/3 innings, about four innings per outing.  Kopech has always been a flame thrower, but in May for the first time Kopech hit 100 mph on a radar gun during a game.



11. Javier Guerra, SS- Greenville {15} The 19 year old, who all ready had a reputation as a "plus-plus defender" at shortstop has continued his blossoming at the bat.  After a solid offensive April his line for May was 2/13/.308/.402/.915 with eight doubles and a triple.  His overall BA so far is .297 with nineteen extra base hits.  Several members of the Drive are featured up and down our list, yet recently Drive manager Darren Fenster was quoted as saying he felt Guerra has the highest ceiling of anyone on his team.  Yes that includes Moncada and Devers.  Guerra is knocking on the door of our top ten.

12. Deven Marrero, SS- Pawtucket {12} The Red Sox made an organizational decision to begin to give Marrero some starts at second and third base (as well as shortstop) to enhance his versatility and perhaps find a path to Boston for him, as he is apparently blocked at shortstop by Xander Bogaerts.  It is hard to tell if this experimentation is part of the reason, but Deven had a poor month at the plate in May.  His line was 1/6/.218/.279/.557 with just one double and triple each. Marrero has a major league ready glove, his question has always been the bat.  And numbers like he had in May will not get him to the big leagues.

13. Michael Chavis, 3B- Greenville {11} Chavis has shown some the power he was known for when drafted in the 2014 first round.  But his overall numbers have not been outstanding as he adjusts to pro ball. His line in May was nearly identical to April: 2/10/.212/.264/.640.  Overall Chavis is hitting just .205 but with fifteen extra base hits and nineteen RBI.  Because Chavis' two main positions of third base and second base are also manned by Moncada and Devers, there is some speculation Chavis may be sent down to Lowell when their season begins in mid-June.  If this happens, it would not be so much a demotion as an attempt to get more regular playing time in the infield and steady at batsfor Chavis.

14. Trey Ball, LHP- Salem {14} Ball's name will get mentioned a good deal the next week or so.  That is because the Red Sox will pick at #7 in this year's draft, the exact position where the Sox selected Ball two years ago.  Ball is still having his up and downs with a line of 3-5/4.98/1.62/26-19 for the year.  Not impressive numbers, but Ball continues to gather innings that he did not get as an Indiana high school player.  In 2014 Ball pitched better in the second half at Greenville, it will be interesting to see if Trey can do that again in the Carolina League.

15. Sam Travis, 1B- Salem {16} The Indiana University product continues to swing a solid bat.  His May line was 1/19/.297/.355/.778.  On the season Travis has fifteen extra base hits ( two home runs , three triples, and ten doubles).  Despite Travis' three years of college ball, he will not turn 22 until August 27.  Another hot month in June could lead to a mid season promotion to Hadlock Field.

16. Garin Cecchini, 3B-OF- Pawtucket {13} There is no one in the entire Red Sox system who has unexpectedly struggled more than Cecchini. Garin came out of high school with the reputation as having a sweet, pure swing.  His entire game was predicated on his offense.  After a so-so 2014 in AAA when he hit .263 ( after not hitting lower than .296 at any other minor league stop), Garin has returned to Pawtucket and through May his hitting has completely crashed.  His line for May was a nearly unfathomable 0/0/.205/.305/.546 in 83 at bats.  His overall stats for 2015 to date are no better: 1/2/.196/.270/.531.  That's two RBI in 138 at bats.  If Cecchini cannot stop this slide immediately his career will stall.  Cecchini may be a candidate for trade for a change of scenery for  his own sake, but he is killing any trade value with numbers like he has so far in 2015.

17. Travis Shaw, 1B- Pawtucket {17} The personal highlight for Shaw was making his major league debut. On May 8th Shaw was recalled and started at first base for Boston.  In three plate appearances he was 0-2 with a walk. As was planned before the recall, Shaw was optioned back to AAA after the one game. At Pawtucket Shaw improved his production in May after an April BA of .185 with only one home run.  Shaw's May line was 4/15/.255/.336/.738.  Shaw, who has played first and third base throughout his minor league career, was another player the Red Sox have tried at an additional position.  In Shaw's case it has been left field. The extra versatility will help but Shaw's chance to extend his big league career beyond the one game in May 2015 will rest with his power and OBP abilities.

18. Wendell Rijo, 2B- Salem {19} Rijo spent a portion of May on the DL, but still garnered 61 at bats with a line of 0/7/.262/.277/.703 with ten doubles.  One facet of his offensive game that could use improvement is the OBP, but at age 19 Rijo has plenty of time to work on his pitch selectivity.

19. Nick Longhi, 1B-OF- Greenville  {21} Longhi's May statistics were down somewhat from April, but Nick still played a key role in the loaded Drive lineup. Longhi's overall line for the season in the South Atlantic League is 3/26/.270/.329/.728 with eight doubles.

20. Bryce Brentz, OF- Pawtucket {20} Brentz is another one of several Paw Sox who have been in the same offensive malaise that has gripped the big club in Boston.  2/8/.175/.255/.512 was all Brentz could muster in 97 at bats, with both of the home runs coming late in May.  Unless Brentz can hit for power, his all ready slim chances of getting any playing time in Boston, will extinguish completely soon.

21. Ty Buttrey, RHP- Salem {25} The big (6'6" 235) righty was the Red Sox system pitcher of the month in April at Greenville ( with a line of 1-0/2.45/0.91/22-3) and was promoted to Salem on May 1.  Ty pitched just as well in Salem for May with a line of 4-0/2.40/1.27/24-12. Buttrey's prospect status had flagged in '13-'14 but if he can finish off '15 as he has begun it, you are looking at the number one man in the 2016 Sea Dogs rotation. As well as one of the Sox top pitching prospects.

22. Mauricio Dubon, 2B- Greenville {22} For the first two months of the campaign Dubon has been very productive at the plate: 4/25/.295/.339/.765 with nine doubles and a triple.  With Yoan Moncada joining the Greenville squad, it remains to be seen how the games at second base will divided between the two Sox prospects.

23. Sean Coyle, 2B- Pawtucket {18} Stop me if you have heard this before.  Coyle is another Paw Sox hitter who has cratered at the plate 1/4/.080/.179/.419 in May.  2 for 25 will get you to a .080 BA, by the way.  The reason Coyle had only 25 AB's is stop me if you have this before, Part II.  Coyle spent most of May on the disabled list.  This was the sixth DL stint in Coyle's days in the Red Sox system.  Coyle must accomplish two things moving forward in AAA: show can hit for more than just occasional power ( four home runs but a BA of .159 so far in '15) and he MUST stay healthy.  Both of these goals must be met if Coyle has a big league career in his future.

24. Pat Light, RHP- Portland {26} The Sea Dog relief pitcher made big strides in May and there continues to be rumbles in the media that Light could reach the Boston bullpen this season.  After an acceptable April line of 0-0/4.76/1.06/13-2 with no saves, Light began to get save opportunities in May and he cashed in three with a line of 1-1/0.63/0.98/19-9.  A lapse in his control from time to time is one facet of his game Light needs to smooth out before a big league bullpen beckons.  But a call to AAA could come at any time.

25. Edwin Escobar, LHP- Boston DL {23} Edwin has still not pitched in 2015 due to injury, but in the last few days has begun throwing in side sessions.  The Red Sox are still hoping that Escobar could be a lefty arm in the big league pen this year.  With the performances of Messrs. Breslow, Layne, and Ross, Jr. I would suggest there are ample opportunities for Escobar.

26. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP- Salem {24} Stankiewicz is putting together another solid season as he works his way up the Red Sox ladder.  His won- lost record is only 1-5, but the rest of his numbers are 3.52/1.16/26-9.

27. Carlos Asauje, 2B- Portland {30} Asauje has been one of the bright sports in the Portland lineup in 2015.  Carlos had an on base streak of 28 games end in late May.  And as this streak indicates getting on base is a key part of his game.  His OBP is more than .100 greater than his BA: 3/25/.260/.372/.774.

28. Simon Mercedes, RHP- Portland {27} Mercedes, along with Pat Light, was converted to full time bullpen artist this year at Portland.  Mercedes has had a good year but not up to Light's numbers. Simon's line is 1-0/3.81/1.34/22-14.

29. Jonathn Aro, RHP- Pawtucket {31} Aro was the third less heralded new member of the Portland bullpen but he was the first promoted to AAA.   At Portland his line was 3-2/2.82/1.03/19-8, after his promotion Aro has still pitched well: 0-0/3.48/0.87/14-1.  Peter Gammons, for one, has speculated Aro could be in line for a promotion to the Red Sox bullpen before the year is out.

30. Joe Gunkel, RHP- Portland {NR} Gunkel is making his first appearance on our list for 2015 after being named the Red Sox system relief pitcher of the month of April for his work at Salem.  Joe was promoted to the Eastern League and has pitched mostly as a starter for Portland.  However Gunkel will be making his debut and exit from our rankings.  On June 3rd Gunkel was traded to Baltimore along with cash considerations for major league outfielder Alejandro De Aza.  Last season De Aza was dealt from the White Sox to the Orioles and he had a hand in helping the O's win the AL East.  By trading one of their mid level pitching prospects for De Aza, it would seem the Red Sox expect some type of useful role for the new outfielder going forward.


We close with a check in on RSM favorite David Chester, the 1B-DH for the Sea Dogs.  And unfortunately the news is not good.  Power hitting is the entirety of Chester's tool box.  And through May, David is not hitting at all, power of otherwise: 2/5/.115/.203/.434 for May.  6 for 52 with four singles plus his two home runs.  For the season Chester's numbers are: 3/9/.151/.254/.509 with two doubles in 106 at bats.  As a 33rd round draft pick back in 2011 and as a 26 year old still in AA, it may be the end of the line for David Chester is in sight.  We here at RSM hope not.

6 comments:

  1. A fantastic job as always, Deacon. I think most Red Sox fans are informed about the top ten guys on this list on a regular basis through Twitter and whatnot, but the information you’re able to compile on guys 11-30 is impressive. I wouldn’t even know where to look for this information. Do you subscribe to secret insider scouting services? Anyway, good work.

    A few thoughts:

    What the hell has happened to Maine’s own Portland Sea Dogs? The top prospect at Hadlock Field is #24 on this list. There are only four total prospects at Portland, #’s 24, 27, 28, and 30 on this list. #30 is gone, having been traded to Baltimore. Pat Light, #24, will probably be promoted to AAA soon. That leaves Carlos Asauje, a light-hitting second-baseman with a .774 OPS and Simon Mercedes, a mid-level bullpen prospect. Again, what the hell happened to the middle level of the Sox’ vaunted farm system? Class A, especially the Greenville Drive, is absolutely loaded with highly-regarded talent. Class AAA has some promising arms and struggling hitters, but at least there is apparent major-league talent there in the future. Wherefore art thou, Sea Dogs?

    My boy Ty Buttrey! Pitcher of the month in April! Promotions! Where can I buy a Buttrey t-shirt uniform?

    The big league club’s offense has been MIA for over a month now. With their failure to score any runs last night, Boston now has three more games than other AL team where the offense scores zero or one runs. And then you look at Pawtucket, and guys who were supposed to be developing big bats are also producing squadoosh. Cecchini, Brentz, and Shaw were supposed to be middle of the order hitters in their future. Merrero was supposed to be competent. Instead, they’re incompetent.

    What is going on? Why is a lack of hitting production running rampant among the Red Sox franchise, from the big club down the road to Pawtucket? Is it just a small sample size? A freakish run of bad luck? Low BABIP? Or is it something more endemic? Are the coaching staffs and player development personnel to blame? Are the Red Sox teaching an antiquated approach to hitting up and down their system, as owner John Henry might have hinted at this week? Just what the hell is going on here?!?!

    Teddy Stankiewicz has officially moved into second place on my personal “I like this player because his name is fun as hell to say” list. Just in case you were wondering.

    I am getting excited about the future of Michael Kopech. I hope he makes it up to Portland by the end of the season.

    Finally, are we sure that Sean Coyle should even be on this list any more? He can’t stay healthy, and when he does he’s batting with a .419 OPS?!? I think I could probably amass a .419 OPS in the minors and I’m a guy who once struck out in a men’s league slow pitch softball game. Even if Coyle gets back on track, his future seems like a homeless man’s Brock Holt.

    I always enjoy these posts!

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  2. And now playing the role of Lars Anderson...Garin Cecchini

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  3. Offensive struggles don't appear to be a problem only in Boston. It has gripped much of the organization (well at least Pawtucket). Makes me wonder if there is a problem with the organizational approach that has been a staple of their success over the last ten+ years. John Henry said as much earlier this week when he gave his state of the Red Sox address to the media. I'm paraphrasing, but he said something along the lines of the game of baseball is changing and how you score runs is changing and maybe we need to change our philosophy. If we are seeing a paradigm shift in baseball than the Red Sox and their offensive approach are behind the curve for sure.

    Their biggest mistake which no one seems to talk about anymore, myself included and I hate to admit it, but it might be the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury. The only real offensive change that they made after 2013 was not resigning him and their offense hasn't been the same since. It sure would be nice to have someone get on base and then be able to get himself into scoring position and distract the pitcher. Those skills haven't been a part of the Red Sox offensive attack since 2013.

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