Sunday, September 27, 2015

RSM Red Sox Top 40 Prospects 2015 Post Season Edition

We now present our final ranking of the Red Sox prospects, from their very, very deep system, for 2015.    Any one of the top ten or beyond could be ranked at or near the top of another less deep system.  There has been some shuffling of the ranks since August.

As usual the team listed after the player is the most recent stop for that player.  The number in { } is the August ranking for that player.  The slash lines we use are:

Hitters:  HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS

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

However for this year end report, we will use some stats, but we will focus more on how the 2015 performance may influence the 2016 assignment for each player. And that assignment may well be with another organization, if a particular prospect has potential to be a trade chip.  We will discuss that as well.


Here the 40 top prospects for the Boston Red Sox :

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B Greenville  {2}.  Perhaps unfairly, most everyone expected the super prospect from Cuba to explode onto the American baseball scene.  But despite the fact Boston kept Moncada in extended spring training into May, Yoan was a 19 year old kid, living in a completely different culture and environment than he had ever known.  But after the SAL All Star break, Moncada exploded, with a couple of months adjustment to the game and life under his belt.

Boston left Moncada at Grenville, as they did with nearly all of the players on this prospect-laden team. And Moncada finished with :  8/38/.278/.380/.817.  He also stole 49 bases in 52 attempts.  In August, Moncada's hit .333 with a OBP of .451 with three homers, seven doubles and a triple.

Moncada, who will not turn 21 until the middle of 2016, will begin the new season at either Salem or Portland. If the Sox go the conservative route it is Salem for sure.  If they want to be aggressive with the player one scout called " a switch hitting Robinson Cano"(and despite the Yankee connection, who wouldn't take that for a career to come) he could start at AA.  My guess is the Red Sox will have Yoan avoid playing baseball in Maine in April, and begin him at Salem.  But by early May, the folks at Hadlock Field should be ready to welcome the Sox top prospect.

With so many big name prospects across MLB going to the show in 2015, Moncada should be in the running as the number one prospect in all of baseball when the various rankings come out this winter.

When will Yoan Moncada reach Boston?  Based on the two young stars leading the Sox right now: Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, the end of 2016 and for sure early 2017 seems reasonable.  Bogaerts played at Greenville at age 18, Salem and Portland at 19, then made the majors at 20.  Betts split 2013 at Greenville and Salem at age 20, then was in the big leagues mid way through the next year.

Moncada is one prospect that seems nearly untouchable in any Dave Dombrowski deals this winter.

2. Rafael Devers, 3B Greenville {1}  The left slugger who will not turn 19 until October 24, put together a very strong year at age 18, but tailed off in the later stages.  This likely can be chalked up to an adjustment to playing a full season of pro baseball for the first time.  Devers also spent the whole season at Greenville and hit 11/70/.288/.329/.443, very strong numbers for an eighteen year old.  At such a young age, the Sox will likely continue the one step at a time progression for Devers, and send him to Salem for 2016. If his power really blossoms, a late season promotion to Portland would not be completely out of the question.  In order for the Sox to include Devers in a trade this winter, it would have to be a blockbuster.  Something like a Sonny Gray or Matt Harvey deal.

3. Henry Owens, LHP Boston {4}  A member of the Sox super 2011 draft class, reached the big leagues in August.  And while his overall numbers for Boston are pedestrian 3-3/4.41/1.42/43-24, his numbers have been skewed by a couple of rough outings.  In others Owens has gone deep in the games and has shown swing and miss stuff.  Since Owens is not overpowering ( although not a junkballer by any means)he will need to spot his pitches on a more regular basis.

Overall his big league appearances have been very encouraging and likely lead Owens to one of three paths for 2016.  In order of our best guess of likelihood: 1. begin '16 at AAA to refine his game more and to be ready as depth for the big league rotation.  2. traded this winter as part of a package of prospects to acquire a front of the rotation starter 3. with a strong spring and the trade of some veteran pitchers, Owens joins Eduardo Rodriguez as two strong young lefties in the Sox rotation.

4. Manuel Margot, OF Portland  {3} After a mid season promotion to AA Portland, Margot put up a very respectable line of 3/33/.271/.326/.745 with 21 doubles and 19 stolen bases. Because his stats were not off the chart fantastic, in some quarters Margot's AA experience has lowered his prospect standing some.  What these people are forgetting is Margot played the entire 2015 season at age 20.  Manuel was the sixth youngest player to appear in an Eastern League game this year (in fact with a birthdate of 9-28-94, Margot became the first player to play for the Sea Dogs, who was born after the Dogs franchise began). Margot, on September 6, also became the first Sea Dogs player to hit for the cycle at Hadlock Field.

One thing is for sure, no matter how someone rated Margot, he is the most attractive and available trade chip Boston may have.  Margot is an outstanding defensive center fielder, and Boston seems to be set there with both Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley, Jr..  And then coming along behind him is the 2015 first round draftee, Andrew Benintendi.  All of this makes Margot expendable. Earlier this month while reading a baseball chat, the question was posed what kind of player(pitcher) could Boston get for a package of Margot and Devers, and the answer was anyone you could possibility want could be had for those two.  It will be a major upset, if Manuel Margot is not traded this winter, and would be equally surprising if he does not go on to a fine major league career.

5. Anderson Espinoza, RHP Greenville {9} Another push up the rankings for the 17 year old wonder kid.  Greenville was his final stop of the year, but it was just one start in the final weekend of the season.  But this was after Espinoza, blew through the DSL and GCL.  Red Sox officials while speaking off the record have called Espinoza their best pitching prospect "in decades".  Scouts from other teams all over baseball compare him to Pedro.

The right hander who hits 99-100 mph on the guns will likely return to Greenville to begin 2016.  Anderson has said he would like to reach the big leagues at the same age his idol did.  That would be Felix Hernandez, who reached the show at age 19.  We shall see.  Espinoza will not be traded.

6. Andrew Benintendi, OF  Greenville {6} Benintendi came out of nowhere on the scouts radar at Univ. of Arkansas with a sensational season that pushed him all the way up to the number seven overall first round pick by Boston.  Because he previously had not been highly regarded he had not attended some of the specialized workouts and summer college leagues.  So as Andrew began his pro career the big question was could his newly found power translate to the use of wooden bats.  Benintendi's stops at Lowell and Greenville seem to answer that question. At Lowell he had seven homers with an OBP of .408 and when promoted he had four more homers with an OBP of .430.  The eleven homers came in 198 pro at bats.

Because of his college background, it is very likely Benintendi plays in Portland in 2016, perhaps with a brief stop in Salem to begin the year.

7. Javier Guerra, SS Greenville {7} No one on this list boosted their stock more this year than Guerra.  The young Panamanian shortstop had played two years in the Sox system, one year each in the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League.  His combined batting average for the two years was .258 with two home runs.   But Guerra did possess a sterling defensive reputation, with shortstop being considered near or at the level of Jose Iglesias.  But at age nineteen Guerra's offense exploded, while the defense remained top notch.  His line was 15/68/.279/.329/.778 with 23 doubles and three triples for the Drive.

In at least two major trades in the last year or so, David Price from the Rays to Detroit, and the Josh Donaldson to Toronto deal, the return package has included a toolsy, young Class A type shortstop.  Guerra could be such a trade chip for Boston this winter.

If Guerra is not traded, and he won't be unless it is in a blockbuster, he should begin 2016 at Salem.  With Xander Bogaerts manning shortstop in Boston for a long time to come, there will be no need to rush Guerra.

8. Sam Travis, 1B Portland {8} If there is one prospect on this list who get to the major leagues more quickly than expected and to have an outstanding career it may well be Sam Travis.  The first baseman split 2015 between Salem and Portland with a combined line of 9/78/.307/.381/.833 with 32 doubles six triples and 19 stolen bases (albeit in 32 attempts). His AA stats were nearly the same as the overall line, .300 BA and .384 OBP at Portland.  The Red Sox selected Travis as their 2015 minor league offensive player of the year.  Sam should begin '16 at AAA, and how soon he goes up from there to Boston depends on his own AAA performance and what the Red Sox do about first base this winter.  Travis will be playing in the Arizona Fall League.

9. Brian Johnson, LHP Pawtucket {5} The slide down the list has nothing at all to do with Johnson's pitching performance: 9-6/2.53/1.10/90-32.  Because of Johnson's ability to throw so many quality strikes, he was called up to Boston in July and made a single start and seemingly was ready to get a chance to audition in the big leagues.  But he was mysteriously optioned back after that one start, and soon was pulled from a AAA start, and it was announced he had some elbow stiffness.  He had continued a workout program in Fort Myers, but in late September the Sox announced Johnson was being shut down and would be re-evaluated on October 1st.  All the ominous signs of an impending Tommy John surgery are there.  If that turns out to be true, Johnson will miss all of 2016 and depending on how soon a diagnosis is made, early 2017 could be in jeopardy too.

10. Travis Shaw, 1B-3B Boston  {14}  In what may be a first on our rankings, Shaw is a player shooting up the list based on on his major league output.  After yo-yoing between AAA and Boston earlier, Shaw finally came up to Boston in late July and grabbed the regular first base job with his power bat.  For the last month or so, interim manager Torey Lovullo has hit Shaw fifth, behind Big Papi, and he has played first neary every game.  His MLB line with about a week to go in 2015: 11/30/.275/.340/.837 with ten doubles.  Is Shaw a flash in the pan or a late bloomer?  He was never considered a middle of the order power hitting prospect, but he has at least played his way into the discussion as a regular in Boston for 2016.

11. Michael Kopech, RHP  Greenville {10} Kopech's 2015 at Greenville was limited to 65 innings due to a fifty game suspension for use of a banned substance.  In those 65 innings his ERA was 2.63.  The Texan fireballer will make up for some of the lost innings this fall in instructional league.  Also, due to the limited innings, Kopech may likely begin '16 back at Greenville.  But a quick call up to Salem could be forthcoming if he repeats his '15 performance for the Drive.

12. Deven Marrero, SS Boston {13}  Marrero missed a lot of AAA playing time this year due to spending several weeks in Boston as a little used back up infielder.  Marrero hit .256 for Pawtucket, and his question remains the same: can he hit enough to be a big league regular? Marrero has outstanding defensive skills, and they have shown in his time in Boston as well.  As with Javier Guerra, the path to shortstop in Boston is fully blocked by Xander Bogaerts.  Deven could stick with Boston as the utility infielder or go back to AAA for more seasoning.  If another big league club out there believes in Marrero's bat, he could be a trade chip.  A year ago, Marrero had an outstanding Arizona Fall League, including with the bat.  The best guess here is Marrero is traded this winter.

13. Michael Chavis, 3B Greenville {11} One of the two 2014 first round picks (along with Kopech), Chavis fulfilled his reputation at draft time last year as a potential power bat.  Chavis hit 16 home runs for Greenville, the top total on the loaded Drive team.  But he only hit .223, with an OBP of .277. But like so many of the Drive players, Chavis was a teenager (turning 20 on August 11), so the power at that age is encouraging.  Greenville had somewhat of a logjam of top infield prospects all season, so Chavis' 2016 assignment may depend on where some of the others are sent.  A return to the Drive to begin '16 with a mid season call up to Salem seems to be a likely scenario.

14. Trey Ball, LHP Salem {12} The 2013 first round draftee appeared to be on his way to mirroring 2014 around July.  In '14 at Greenville, Ball struggled early but his second half of the season was much better.  After a slow start to '15 Ball had some outstanding mid year starts.  But over the last month or so he continued to have up and down starts.  His overall line was 9-13/4.73/1.46/77-60.  Numbers that are not good enough, especially the poor K to BB ratio.  The good news is Ball made 25 starts for 129 innings at high A.  Coupled with the 22 starts for 100 IP in '14 at Greenville, Ball should be ready to begin 2016 at Hadlock Field. But next year will be a very pivotal year for the number seven overall pick in '13.

15. Ty Buttrey , RHP Salem {15} After a blazing April in a return to Greenville, Buttrey was quickly promoted to Salem where he made 21 starts and put up a solid line of 8-10/4.20/1.40/81-45.   If you factor in his starts for Greenville his ERA drops to 3.92 and Buttrey finished third in the entire Sox system in strikeouts with 103.  Buttrey also is looking at beginning '16 for Portland.

16. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP Salem {22} Along with Ball and Buttrey, Stankiewicz made up the front of the Salem rotation.  Stankiewicz made 25 starts for a line of: 5-11/4.01/1.28/77-32.  All three Salem starters should make up the top of the Portland rotation in 2016, unless.  Any one or two of these three Salem starters could be added to a trade package to acquire pitching help at the big league level.  If the Sox hope a swing a big deal for a pitcher and not give up the young stars all ready in Boston ( Betts, Bogaerts, Swihart, etc.) one way to do that would be to make up a package of four or five names on this list.

17. Nick Longhi, 1B Greenville {17} Longhi sometimes gets lost among all of the big name first round and international signee star prospects he played with for the Drive.  But like so much of his team, Longhi, a 2013 draftee, was a teenager for almost all of the season, turning 20 on August 16.  But his line more than held his own:7/62/.281/.338.741 with 27 doubles and three triples.  Longhi is in the same boat as Chavis, his 2016 assignment will depend on how the loaded Drive team is dispersed.  Unless Devers or Chavis are moved to first base at Salem (unlikely this early in their careers), Longhi may well start the new season at Salem.

18. Wendell Rijo, 2B Salem {20} Like so many of the Greenville Drive stars, Rijo played nearly this entire season as a teenager (turned 20 on Sept. 4).  But the difference is Rijo played the entire season at Salem, an entire level above Greenville. Rijo continued to show some pop for a middle infielder again, 6/47/.260/.324/.705 with 27 doubles.  Wendell seems to be on pace to begin next year at Portland as a 20 year old.

19. Pat Light, RHP Pawtucket {16}  This flame thrower was converted to the bullpen in 2015 and sent to Portland, where he shined with 2.43 ERA and a 32-11 K to BB ratio.  But after being promoted to AAA, Light struggled:2-4/5.18/1.73/35-26.  Light, who will turn 25 next March, is still young enough and certainly throws hard enough( in the high 90's) to still be of help to the 2016 Red Sox bullpen.  Boston's pen needs to be rebuilt nearly in its entirety, and not to start the campaign but before 2016 is over, Light could help in that process.

20. Mauricio Dubon, 2B After a quick start to his season in Greenville Dubon was promoted to Salem. This move was also made to alleviate the overcrowded Drive infield.  At Greenville Dubon hit .301 with four homers.  Salem's numbers regressed some: 1/18/.274/.343/.668.  Dubon and Rijo could both head to Hadlock next April, or they may be in competition for one spot, with the loser staying in Salem.

21, Garin Cecchini, LF-3B-1B  Now matter how you cut it the top ten prospect of recent years had a terrible 2015.  Ever since Cecchini was drafted out of high school in the fourth round of the 2010, he had the reputation of a pure hitter.  His offensive game collapsed in his second AAA season in 117 games for Pawtucket: 7/28/.213/.286/.583 with only fourteen doubles.  Other than a one day cameo, Cecchini was not recalled to Boston, and as a corner infielder/left fielder he has been surpassed by Travis Shaw.  Cecchini has likely hit a dead end in the Boston organization and a change of scenery trade would benefit his career.

22. Logan Allen, LHP Lowell  {28}  With the changes in the last CBA to the amateur draft, it is now much harder to draft first round type talent later in the draft and pay them first round cash.  But the Red Sox may have pulled this off with Logan Allen.  The 18 year old lefty from North Carolina slid out of the first round or two, due to questions of signability.  Boston grabbed him in the eighth round and paid him a $725,000 bonus.  Allen joined the GCL Red Sox and helped lead them to a league championship.  Allen pitched seven games and twenty innings for a line of:0-0/0.90/0.65/24-1.  That is 24 Ks in 20 innings while issuing one walk.  Allen moved up to Lowell to pitch one game after the GCL season.  Allen should begin 2016 in Greenville.

23. Noe Ramirez , RHP Boston {NR} Several relievers have moved up and down and on and off this list in 2015.  One who flew under the radar until he was called to Boston is Noe Ramirez.  Noe was converted to strictly the bullpen in 2013, his second season in the Sox system.  In 2013 and 2014 his ERA was in the 2.00"s, and he continued that in 2015 for the Paw Sox with a 2.32 ERA in 30 games, with 38 -18 K/BB.  He spent a couple of stretches in Boston and put up a line of: 0-1/4.38/1.19/13-6, and in some his more recent outings has appeared to be getting more and more attuned to pitching in the big leagues.  As Dave Dombrowski looks to build a new bullpen, Ramirez has a chance to contribute.

24. Marco Hernandez, SS Pawtucket {23} The player received from the Cubs last winter as the player to be named later for Felix Doubront.  Marco had the best offensive season of any player who began the year in Portland: 5/31/.326/.349/.832.  After being promoted to AAA after the Eastern League All Star Game, Hernandez continued his strong season: 4/22/.271/.300/.709.  If the Red Sox should include Brock Holt in a winter deal and open up a utility spot, Hernandez could be in the mix for that job.  More likely, Marco returns to Pawtucket to begin 2016.

25. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF Lowell {27} The Venezuelan teenager had a very solid campaign for Lowell: 7/23/.243/.340/.741.  His seven home runs tied Basabe for the team lead with Andrew Benintendi.  Basabe was chosen in a post season poll as the sixth best prospect in the New York-Penn League.

26. Williams Jerez, LHP  Portland {26}  The lefty reliever, who is a converted outfielder pitched for three Sox affiliates in 2015: Greenville, Salem, and Portland. His combined line for the three stops was:5-3/2.54/1.34/86-31 with four saves.  The three year old lefty can touch 95 but usually sits in the low 90's.  Jerez, because of his time spent as an outfielder, will need to be put on the 40 man roster this winter.  As a possible lefty in the Boston bullpen, maybe as soon as mid-2016, it is very likely he is protected.  The Red Sox named Jerez as their 2015 minor league pitcher of the year.

27.Yoan Aybar, OF  GCL Red Sox  {24}  The 18 year old Dominican outfielder played his first year stateside, after debuting in 2014 in the DSL.  As a member of the GCL champs, Aybar compiled a line of: 0/16/.268/.298.635.  Depending on his spring performance Aybar could move up to Greenville, but a more likely scenario is remaining in extended spring training until Lowell opens in June.

28. Austin Rei, C [21} Lowell The third round pick this June from the Univ. of Washington played his first pro ball in Lowell.  His numbers suggest a rough adjustment to hitting versus pro pitchers in his debut: 2/12/.179/.285/.579.  There was mixed opinions on Rei's defensive season for Lowell, although he came out of college with a strong defensive reputation.  Despite the poor offensive numbers, with his big college program pedigree,  Rei is likely to move onto Greenville to begin 2016.

29. Carlos Asauje, 2B Portland  {25}  Asauje spent the entire season in Portland amassing 495 at bats more than any other Sea Dog. His line was: 8/61/.251/.334/.708.  Asauje lead the Dogs in RBI and was second in homers to Keury De La Cruz.  Despite playing nearly exclusively at second, Asuaje's shot at a big league career still seems to be as an utility player.  If he can crack the Paw Sox lineup in 2016, this would buttress those big league hopes.

30.  Josh Ockimey, 1B  Lowell {NR}  The big lefty slugger was drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of a Philadelphia area high school.  At the time the draft experts felt the Boston had reached higher than Ockimey was rated.  But Boston reportedly was taken with his power potential, a short commodity in today's game.  Ockimey hit .188 in the GCL in 2014, and was assigned to Lowell this year. In 199 at bats for Lowell, Ockimey hit: 4/38/.266/.349/.771.  Josh lead the Spinners in RBI and was third in home runs.  Ockimey who will turn 20 in October, is likely ticketed for Greenville next season.


A handful of names that adorned our monthly list earlier this year just missed the cut for the top 30.  They are listed here (along with two new names at the end):

31. Jonathan Aro, RHP-  he has likely failed an audition for '16 Boston bullpen
32. Bryce Brentz, OF- Bryce needs two things: good health and a trade to have a MLB career
33. Edwin Escobar, LHP-'15 was a lost season due to arm injury
34. Heath Hembree, RHP-  another arm who is likely is out of 2016 picture
35. Simon Mercedes, RHP- began '15 even with Pat Light, now lags far behind
36. Sean Coyle, INF- if he can ever stay healthy, a middle infielder with pop could make it, somewhere
37. Henry Ramos,OF- two straight injury marred AA seasons, needs a big 2016
38. Jake Cosart, RHP '14 3rd round draftee struggled at Lowell: 2-2/5.45/1.39/27-20.
39. Tate Matheny, OF son of Mike made his pro debut at Lowell, hitting only .181 but with 20 RBI
40. Roniel Raudes, RHP- this Nicaraguan pitcher was signed in July 2014 at age 16 for a bonus of $250,000 and pitched in 2015 in the DSL going: 4-3/3.52/0.91/63-3 ( that is a 21-1 ratio).  Raudes was promoted to the GCL  where he pitched four more games:  3-0/0.90/0.95/16-6.  Raudes who can hit 95 on the gun, is likely ticketed for Lowell in 2016.

So there is our year recap of 40 of the best names in the Sox organization.  There are other younger players who contended for this list and some are sure to hit our rankings in 2016.

Next up for our lists is watching the upcoming hot stove season.  With a new sheriff in town, will Dave Dombrowski make wholesale changes to our list by trading the prospects wholesale?  I think that aspect of Dombrowski's reputation is somewhat overstated, but I would expect to see at least four names of the upper levels of this list to move on.

Before we go let us take one last look at RSM favorite son, David Chester.  His line for his campaign which was spent entirely in Portland was: 7/21/.181/.249/.551.  Chester added seven doubles in 67 games played.  Chester who will turn 27 at the end of next spring training, likely has reached the end of his time in the Red Sox system.  If that turns out to be true, good luck to the big fella in the future.

Happy Hot Stove Season to all and to all a good night.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

I'd Like to Say Thank You on Behalf of the Group and Ourselves and I Hope We Passed the Audition

The prevailing wisdom upon the arrival of new Red Sox President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, in mid August was everyone in the organization and on the field needed to prove themselves to the new boss.  Here is a look at how some of these auditions have fared so far, with just under a month to go in the 2015 season.

BBC outfield.  This term was coined by ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes (or perhaps by one of his twitter followers).  The BBC....they cover the world.  Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Rusney Castillo.  It took about a week and a half (or maybe less) for Dombrowski to ascertain that these three younger players should/would be the outfield for the future and the future seems to be right now.  In that week and a half Dombrowski publicly stated the Hanley Ramirez left field career was over.  Hanley is now working out daily in pre game at first base (and is currently on the DL). Will Hanley be able to play first base any better than left field?  To be determined but here are the slash lines for the three young outfielders in August:

Mookie   3/15/.314/333/.857

JBJ          5/23/.354/.429/1.163

Rusney    3/18/.338/.369/.894

As of this Labor Day weekend Sunday morning, Betts is hitting .281, Castillo .280, and in 153 plate appearances JBJ is at .293 with an OBP of .373.  Jackie is leading all of MLB in slugging average since August 9.

And then you throw in the fact that these three make up a young, athletic, talented defensive outfield as well.  Their abilities range from JBJ's in the discussion for the greatest defensive outfielder of all time to Betts' great range and speed to Castillo's arm and ability to also cover lots of ground.

There are only two questions going forward for this outfield.  First, what will be the alignment.  It seems Bradley, Jr. should be the center fielder, but right field is equally as challenging at Fenway Park, and JBJ has an outstanding throwing arm a plus in right field.  The Sox have begun to play Castillo in left in recent games, so it seems that might be his home, with the CF/RF decision between Betts and Bradley, Jr, to be decided as we go along.

The second question to be answered before anointing these three as the outfield going forward is will Dombrowski trade one of them this winter for an ace pitcher.  It is felt Dombrowski has "no attachment" to any of the young players throughout the Sox system and would trade anybody.  Dave D also has the reputation of trading kids for veterans. The Sox do need a front of the rotation pitcher, but Dombrowski has been so effusive in his praise of this trio, it is hard to picture him dealing any of them.

Joe Kelly- When Boston acquired Kelly from St. Louis a year ago at the July trade deadline, it was hoped he was the kind of young hard throwing pitcher who would blossom into an ace pitcher, a la Corey Kluber, Jake Arrietta, et al. At the end of this July this experiment seemingly had failed and Kelly had been sent to Pawtucket, and the calls rang out to put Kelly and his big fastball in the bullpen.    But as August rolled around Kelly was recalled due to injuries in the rotation.  Kelly stopped throwing his fastball on nearly every pitch, and worked in his off speed deliveries.  Kelly raced through August by winning all six of his starts. He averaged over six innings per start with an ERA of 2.68.  The last Sox hurler with a 6-0 month was Pedro in 1999, and the last Sox pitcher with a 6-0 August was Roger Clemens twenty years ago.

Kelly began September with another win, matching seven game streaks by Josh Beckett in 2007 and Curt Schilling in 2004.  Has Joe Kelly finally turned the corner?  Impossible to tell so far, but it seems unless he completely falls apart in Septmeber, Kelly has to be one of the Red Sox starters to begin 2016.

Rick Porcello- Porcello may have less reason to audition for Dombrowski than any one else here.  Porcello pitched his entire career for Dombrowski's Detroit teams before being traded to Boston last winter.  But his first two starts after coming off the DL were eye opening.  Porcello's Boston debut had been a disappointing disaster.  But in his return in late August  Porcello threw seven shutout innings for the win, and in his first September start, Rick went eight inning with 13 strikeouts, in a hard luck loss.  Porcello apparently went back to emphasizing his two seam fastball, his sinker.  Porcello, like Kelly would seemingly have a rotation spot awaiting in 2016.

Wade Miley, Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens.  Miley has been the lefty in the rotation for the whole season, and had been joined at mid-season by Eduardo and more recently be Owens.  Miley has been the most consistent starter all season, he is 11-10 with an ERA of 4.43.  Miley, who pitched his first career complete game win on September 5 vs. Philadelphia, has not put up sterling numbers but solid enough for a back of the rotation guy.

Rodriguez began his MLB career with numbers matching the best beginning of anyone in a hundred years based on innings pitched, fewest hits allowed, and the most strikeouts. Since then ERod has been up and down, not unexpected for a youngster.  But Rodriguez is another player singled out by Dombrowski.  The President called Eduardo a potential number one starter in the future.

During August Henry Owens joined the club and has won a couple of starts ( including one versus Johnny Cueto and the Royals).  Command has been Owens' minor league issue so his 27 strikeouts to only 11 walks has been encouraging.

Rodriguez would seem to be a near lock for the '16 rotation along with Porcello and Kelly.  Assuming the Sox bring in the front of rotation guy needed, that would leave one spot that Miley and Owens, among others could be competing for.  Either Miley or Owens could also be part of a trade package to get that needed pitcher as well.

Blake Swihart-  With everything going on with the BBC outfield,  Joe Kelly, and Papi march to 500 home runs, the explosion in Blake Swihart's game is gone somewhat under the radar. Blake's line for August was 1/9/.373/.439.931.  That is right an OBP of .439.  His defensive game improvement is harder to quantify, but there also seems to be a positive progression there as well.  Swihart could be that big time trade chip with another young catcher, Christian Vazquez lurking while recovering from Tommy John surgery.  But again Swihart is another player Dave Dombrowski has more than once singled out as piece to build on going forward.  If Dave trades Swihart, it better be straight up for a Sonny Gray or Matt Harvey type.

Travis Shaw- Here is another player from AAA who has opened eyes wide. His August slash line was 7/16/.310/.365/.985.  This largely exceeds his minor league numbers, so there is a conception this is a small sample size fluke from Shaw.  And it may be, but two things to remember: Shaw's BA has often been low in the minors but his OBP is usually high, so the .365 is not out of line.  And despite a down 2015, Shaw hit 21 home runs in '14 between AA and AAA, and he hit 16 in 2013 for Portland.

Is Shaw the starting first sacker on Opening day 2016?  Unsure, but he is a lefty bat with some pop, who can play first and third, and has dabbled in left field.  Shaw could be a contributor in '16 as a role player as well.

Xander Bogaerts-  Xander has not done anything more since Dombrowski took over than he has all year long.  Maybe the one thing you can say about Bogaerts he continues to look more and more comfortable at the plate and especially in the field. There is no longer any doubt that Xander is a quality major league shortstop defensively.  As of Labor Day weekend Bogaerts is third in the AL in batting average, hitting around .320.  If there is one player Dave Dombrowski will NOT trade it is Bogaerts. Dombrwoski has mentioned over and over how great it is to have a young All Star caliber player in the middle of the field.

Bullpen-  More than other other facet of this team, the bullpen meeds to be rebuilt from top to bottom.  Koji Uehara, whose broken wrist ended his '15 campaign in August, will return next year but will be 41 in April.  Junichi Tazawa failed his audition as closer.  That may be to an inability to pitch the ninth, or it may be Taz is out of gas after so many games pitched: 71 games in each of '13 and '14 ( plus 13 more in the 2013 post season) and approaching that total again in '15.

Pretty much every pitcher used in the bullpen since mid August has failed their audition with the possible exception of Robbie Ross, Jr.  In August Ross pitched eleven innings with an ERA of 3.27.  Ross has pitched much better in the second half of the season.  He may get his try at closer in Koji's absence soon.  Ross is at least in the discussion to return to in 2016 along with Koji and Tazawa.

Torey Lovullo-  No decision made by Dave Dombrowski this off season will be so delicate yet so important as John Farrell's status going forward as Sox skipper.  With a new regime in place, there would be very little doubt, a managerial change would be forthcoming.  But with John Farrell battling lymphoma, will he keep his job, health permitting?

If John Farrell, for whatever reason is replaced, can Torey Lovullo get the job full time?  Normally if Farrell was fired based on the job merits, it would be very unlikely his bench coach would replace him.  But since Lovullo has stepped in as interim manager on August 14 through September 5, the Sox are 13-8.  The team seems to be playing with energy and enthusiasm.  How much credit for this goes to Torey? Lovullo has been finalist for other managing jobs ( the Twins last winter, for one). if the Sox continue playing as they have, and perhaps can push up into third place, Lovullo would have to be seriously considered.

One last thing, when the Sox look to hire a new GM under Dombrowski and if they look for a new manager, you can be sure the field of candidates for each job will include minority applicants.  MLB has a policy in place that at least one minority candidate must be at least interviewed for all openings.  John Henry and the Sox were granted an exemption to this to be able to hire Dombrowski quickly.  Furthermore, Dombrowski is actually the chairman of the baseball diversity committee.

Others-  David Ortiz has certainly cemented another year at DH, hitting 9/22/.352/.42/1.169 in August. In September Papi continues to rake and is up to 496 career home runs.  He has reached 30 bombs for the year, the ninth time in his Red Sox career, breaking the team record of 8 which he held with Ted Williams.  Ortiz is just the third MLB player in history to hit 30 or more at ages 37, 38, and 39.

Pablo Sandoval's game has noticeably improved defensively at third base. At age 29, Pablo still has a future as the Sox third sacker.

Hanley Ramirez is on the DL, but he insists he will get into some games at first base before the year is out.  This could be a very important audition, if not for the 2016 Sox, it could reshape the Sox efforts to trade Hanley this winter.


The season has four weeks to go and the auditions continue.  And then the off season and potential fire works in Boston will begin.