Friday, July 3, 2015

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects- July 2015 Edition

We have hit the halfway mark of the MLB season and the Fourth of July weekend, and it is time to once again rank the top prospects of the Red Sox organization.  As anticipated we have some changes in our top 30 this month.  Two players have graduated from prospect status to big league rookies.  They are Matt Barnes {#9 last month} and our previously number one ranked prospect, catcher Blake Swihart.  Also some of the new draftees from the 2015 June amateur draft join our list after officially signing with Boston.

As always the team listed after the player's name is his current location and the number in { } is last month's ranking.  We use two stat lines:

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

Let's meet the new number one Red Sox prospect and check out how the players are ranked by RSM.

1. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP Boston {3} Since his recall to Boston on May 28, Rodriguez has been the Sox second best starter behind only Clay Buchholz.  Eduardo began red hot with a near historic first four games, with a combination of innings pitched, few hits allowed, and strikeouts rarely seen in all the years since 1914. He ran into two tough starts versus Toronto and Baltimore, which was attributed to pitch tipping.  If Eduardo can make the mechanical adjustments to eliminate this tipping of his pitches, he should be in line to complete a strong rookie season for Boston.  This is very likely Eduardo's first and last appearance at the top of our rankings.  Three more starts or so will also graduate Rodriguez into the big league rookie season category.

2. Rafael Devers, 3B Greenville {5} The 18 year old hitting phenom's June did not match his torrid May, but he still finished the month with a line of 6-36-.305-.336-.793 for the season to date with 19 doubles and a triple.  Devers was one of the Drive members to be named to the South Atlantic All Star team.  In addition Devers has been selected to play in World vs. USA Futures Game, played as part of MLB's All Star festivities.

3. Yoan Moncada, 2B Greenville {2} The Cuban star was edged out of the second spot by his Drive teammate, Devers.  The young switch hitter with the huge international reputation is still adjusting to playing in the States.  His line so far for the Drive is 1/11/.230/.315/.634 with five doubles and a triple.  Moncada has also stolen nine bases without being caught.  It will be very interesting to see if Moncada's game heats up as the second half of the minor league season continues.

4. Brian Johnson, LHP Pawtucket {4} The day of Johnson's big league debut should be right around the corner.  With Joe Kelly now in AAA,  Justin Masterson on a game by game leash, and Rick Porcello cratering, Brian Johnson's time should be now.  Johnson, the Paw Sox only IL All Star representative (which would have been beyond comprehension when 2015 began), has continued to produce: 8-5/2.38/1.08/76-24 with fifteen starts on the year.  His June stats closely mirror his year to date numbers.  It will be a very big surprise if Brian Johnson does not make his major league debut in July.

5. Manuel Margot, OF Portland {6} Around the halfway mark of the minor league season the Red Sox made several promotions within the system (several of which we will see later on this list). The biggest name was Margot, who recovered from an injury plagued May to hit .316 with two homers for Salem in June, and was promoted to AA.  In Manuel's first 39 at bats for Portland he has not skipped a beat.  His AA line is 1/5/.282/.300/.736 with three doubles and three stolen bags.  Margot's first AA home run came in his first game at Hadlock Field.  Manuel will be the second Sox player in the Futures game.  As the trade deadline comes at the end of this month, Margot's name is sure to be mentioned in any big Sox rumors.  But in the mean time, there is now a real Sox prospect to see when the fans visit Portland.

6. Henry Owens, LHP Pawtucket {8} Owens has not produced the eye popping numbers as he has done in the lower levels of the minors.  But Henry is still having a very important year in his development.  He has now made sixteen starts and pitched 90 innings at AAA this year, along with six starts and 38 innings there in 2014. His command improved in June with 27 strikeouts versus 13 walks,  a better rate than the first two months of 42-35.  As with other tall pitchers in the past the 6'6" lefty needs to work on repeating his delivery and commanding the zone.  This is why his June numbers are encouraging.

7. Rusney Castillo, OF Pawtucket {7} Castillo continues not to be able to earn and hold on to playing time in Boston.  He has 74 at bats for Boston with poor to mediocre results. The best plan going forward for 2015 would seem to be to get as many at bats in AAA as possible for Rusney.  So far in AAA his numbers are good; 3/11/.310/.364/.824 with six doubles and eight stolen bases in ten tries.

8. Andrew Benintendi, OF Lowell {N/A} The new number one draft pick ( #7 overall) of the Boston Red Sox debuts in our top ten.  Benintendi lead his Univ. of Arkansas team to the College World Series.  His tools include hitting for power and average with better than average speed and a strong throwing arm.  He throws and bats left handed.  Andrew played two seasons at Arkansas, and he truly exploded onto the scene this season, as illustrated by his two lines in college.

2014: 1/27/.276/.368      in 225 at bats

2015: 20/57/.376/.488     in 226 at bats

Benintendi won the 2015 Dick Howser Award symbolic of the college baseball player of the year and the Golden Spikes Award for amateur baseball player of the year.

Benintendi will begin his pro career at Lowell after officially signing with Boston this week.  Benintendi, who turns 21 on July 6,  is expected to make a brief stop at Lowell before moving onto Greenville or maybe even Salem.

9. Michael Kopech, RHP Greenville {10} June was more of the same for Kopech, as the 2014 first rounder  continues to put up a very solid first full pro season.  After pitching just 13 pro innings in '14, Kopech has a line of 3-5/3.06/1.22/58-17 in 50 innings , while lighting up the guns in the high 90's regularly.

10. Javier Guerra, SS Greenville {11} The nineteen year old shortstop from Panama is just one of many recent international signees who are exploding onto the Red Sox prospect scene.  Guerra, a SAL All Star, has put up an impressive line for the season: 8/36/.271/.328/.796 with 15 doubles for the plus rated defender.

11. Deven Marrero, INF Boston {12} The recent placement of Dustin Pedroia onto the disabled list led to the major league debut for Marrero.  Brock Holt took the starts at second, but Marrero was brought up as the utility infielder.  On July 1, Marrero started his first MLB game on Canada Day in Toronto.  Through that game Marrero started his big league career at 0-6.  Marrero is a great defender and his bat as always is the question.  But didn't we say that about Jose Iglesias as well?

12. Trey Ball, LHP Salem {14} 2013's first round, seventh overall pick continues to make steady progress through the system.  Trey had an outstanding June at Salem: 3-1/1.59/1.09/19-13 in five starts. In mid-June Ball put up 15 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. This brought his year to date won/loss record to 6-6 with an ERA of 3.70.  Ball's June seems to mirror his 2014 Greenville season when a poor first half was followed by a strong second half.  July and August could be important months for Ball.

13. Sam Travis, 1B Portland {15} Travis is the second reason for Red Sox fans to get to Hadlock Field.  In his first 23 AA at bats, after being promoted on June 25,  Travis got of to a slow start. But at Salem, Sam may have been the most consistent hitter in the entire system this year.  His June line at Salem was 3/14/.406/.474/1.112 with five doubles and a triple.  His totals at Salem before his promotion were: 5/40/.313/.378/.845. Travis who was drafted last year from a Big Ten program at Indiana could continue to move quickly.

14. Michael Chavis, 3B Greenville {13} Chavis has shown power this year with six home runs and thirteen doubles, but with only a BA of .208.  But accumulating the pro at bats is the important thing for last year's top draft pick for Boston.

15. Travis Shaw, 1B-3B-LF, Pawtucket {17}  Shaw made another cameo appearance with Boston in June, but is still looking for his first big league hit, going 0-9 with a walk and a run scored so far.  His line at AAA is 5/28/.254/.328/.701.  If Shaw can make himself at least adequate in left field, the added versatility (along with playing third and first) could improve his chances of sticking in the show.

16. Pat Light, RHP Pawtucket {24} One of the big leaps in our rankings comes from Pat Light.  The converted starting pitcher has also moved up the ladder in the Red Sox system, now pitching for the Paw Sox. His final line for Portland was 1-1/2.43/0.98/32-11 with three saves in 29 2/3 innings. On June 9th he was moved up to Pawtucket.  His AAA line in his first 8 1/3 innings out of the Pawtucket bullpen is 0-1/4.32/132/9-4 with two saves.  But the most important numbers for Light may be that he has been pitching at 95-96 mph, while touching 98 for time to time.  Light could very well be the power arm needed in Boston's bullpen.

17. Ty Buttrey, RHP Salem {21} Another right handed fireballer makes a big move up our list.  Buttrey continued his wonderful 2015 campaign in June:  2-1/2.75/1.17/14-5 in four starts.  The left Ty with a combined line for Greenville (four starts) and Salem ( ten starts): 7-2/2.93/1.19/62-23. Buttrey has completely wiped out the memory of his poor 2014 and is pushing himself into the upper echelon of Sox pitching prospects.

18. Anderson Espinoza, RHP GCL Red Sox {NR} Listen up boys and girls, if you remember one name from this list, Espinoza may be the one.  One of the reasons the Red Sox had no qualms about going past their annual international signing limit to sign Yoan Moncada, was they had all ready blown by it to sign two pitchers on July 2, 2014.  They were Christopher Acosta and Espinoza.  The righty from Caracas, Venezuela was considered the best international pitcher available at age 16.  Boston signed him for 1.8M.

Espinoza made his pro debut this June in the Dominican Sumer League and he dominated to the tune of
0-0/1.20/1.07/21-3 in four starts logging 15 innings.  The Red Sox made the unusual move of promoting the first year player to the states and the Gulf Coast League (just as they had done with slugger Rafael Devers last year).  In his first two starts, Espinoza has an ERA of 0.00 with six K's in eight innings.  Anderson is slightly built at 6' 170", but has what scouts describe as "an electric arm". He has been hitting as high as 99 on the guns this age 16! At least one Sox official was quoted as saying Espinoza may be the best Sox pitching prospect "in decades".

Back in April we did rank Anderson Espinoza at #28, but with no game action for him until June he had fallen slightly off the radar. He is still just a baby, but Espinoza is likely heading high up on our list, and certainly he is very much on the Red Sox radar.

19. Nick Longhi, 1B Greenville {19} Another solid month in June brought Longhi's seasonal line at Low A to 3/33/.278/.342/.734 with thirteen doubles and two triples. These numbers put Longhi right with Devers and Guerra as possible players of the year for the Drive.

20. Mauricio Dubon, 2B Salem 22} Dubon is another player who has been promoted, being sent up to Salem on June 25 from Greenville.  This escape from the over crowded, prospect laden Drive infield may help get more at bats and starts in the infield for Dubon whose seasonal line is 4/29/.301/.354/.782.

21. Wendell Rijo, 2B Salem {18} The second sacker continues to put up steady but not spectacular numbers on his way up the system.  The outstanding number again this year is his age, currently 19, and again this season he is a couple of years younger than most of the league he is competing in.

22. Garin Cecchini, 3B-OF Pawtucket {16} Another poor month in June continues Garin's slide down our rankings and likely in the eyes of the Red Sox.  His June batting average was .189 (.190 for the year) and his June OBP .270 matches his annual average.  He did hit four home runs in June, but otherwise Cecchini is still suffering at the plate. And his bat is his game...or always had been.

23. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP Salem {26} Stankiewicz's line for the year is 2-8/4.00/1.25/39-15 in fourteen starts.  Not eye popping numbers but the second round draft pick from 2013, seems to be pace to reach Hadlock Field to start 2016.

24. Austin Rei, C Lowell {NR} The second player taken in this June's draft by the Red Sox in the third round, 103 overall.  Rei (pronounced Rye) is a catcher who played at the University of Washington.  Rei was considered the best defensive catcher in this draft and has a plus arm.  But Rei also hit well at Washington.  Despite an injury this year he hit 7/20/.330/.445.

25. Edwin Escobar, LHP Pawtucket {25} After being on the DL all year, Escobar made a rehab appearance at Greenville on June 11, and then onto Pawtucket.  Escobar has pitched eight innings in five games at AAA.  If he can get healthy and knock the rust off, Escobar could help the Boston bullpen in 2015.

26. Carlos Asauje, 2B Portland { 27} Carlos' numbers sagged in June: 1/11/.202/.308/.634.  With four home runs and an OBP of .349 for the season Asauje still may have the offensive capability and defensive versatility to have a big league career as an utility player.

27. Jake Cosart, RHP Lowell {NR} The third round pick in last year's draft made seven starts for the '14 GCL Red Sox with an ERA of 2.25.  In 2015 Cosart, brother of Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart, is in the Lowell rotation.  Cosart throws hard and does not have a lot of mileage on his arm as he began his college career at Duke as a third baseman. After one year, he transferred to a JUCO and was drafted by Boston after pitching there one season.

28. Bryce Brentz, OF Pawtucket {20} Brentz has crashed own the list not so much due to lack of production, although his season has been disappointing: 8/26/.232/.308/.692.  But at age 26 Brentz has had another season disrupted by injury.  On June 15, while diving head first into second base, Brentz hurt his thumb.  It required surgery and his timetable for return is three months.  Three months is into September likely ending his season.  And also could very well end his Red Sox career.

29. Sean Coyle, 2B Pawtucket {23}  The good news is that Coyle returned from another in a long line of injuries on June 8. And you might think that his June numbers almost exactly mirroring the rest of the year could be good news.  Unfortunately the numbers in June and before are putrid. A batting average of .158 for June (.159 for the year), .273 OBP in June (.274 for the year), and so on.  Coyle is in race with Cecchini and Bretz to see whose Sox days end first.  At least Garin and Bryce made it to Boston and the big leagues.  Coyle may not.

30. Jonathan Aro, RHP Pawtucket {29} Aro has pitched extremely well at both Portland and Pawtucket, 3-2/2.82/1.03/19-8 at AA and 0-0 0.00/0.75/16-2 in twelve innings at Pawtucket.  He was promoted to try to help the ever needy Boston bullpen, but in two games he looked overmatched.  He has been sent back to Pawtucket, and if he can continue the truly impressive AAA numbers, he may work his way back to Boston before 2015 is over.

Before we go, let us take our monthly look at RSM favorite David Chester the Sea Dogs 1B-DH.  Chester had a uptick in his offensive game in June with a monthly line of 4/5/.241/.288 leaving his seasonal line at 7/14/.181/.265.  Hopefully some warm weather in July and August will be conducive for some more long balls from the big guy.

Before our August rankings roll around, we should have another graduate at the top of our list, and possibly one other.  A couple of long time members of our list are close to playing themselves ( or not playing in Bryce Brentz' case) off the list.  And of course July 31 is the big league non-waiver trade deadline.  It is entirely possible several names on this list are dealt if the Sox are buying.  Or if the Sox become sellers, they may acquire young players who could join our list.

Come back and see how the Red Sox system is looking a month from now.  And come back to the Red Sox Maineiacs site on a regular basis for Sox news and opinions.

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