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.


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