Saturday, May 7, 2016

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects- May 2016 Edition

After the completion of the first month of another season of minor league baseball, RSM presents another of our monthly in-season rankings of the Red Sox farm system.  There was no jockeying of position in our top seven from April, although there were many superb performances from the group. There is more shuffling below the top seven, including one player cracking the top 25 who was not in our pre season top 40.

As always the team listed behind the player is his assignment as of May 1 and the number in {  } is the previous month's ranking.  There are two slash lines used, for hitters: HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS and for the hurlers it is W-L/ERA/WHIP/K-BB.

Here are the top 30 kids in the Sox system ranked for May:

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B- Salem {1}.  In 2015 as a newly signed international free agent, the Sox kept Moncada in extended spring training to ease him into American baseball.  Yoan did not debut with the Greenville Drive until May 18.  When he did begin in Low A ball, he struggled until the All Star break, and then excelled in the second half.  In 2016 with Salem, there has been no such slow start. Moncada ended April at 0/9/.316/.450/.868. In addition Moncada had a half dozen extra base hits and sixteen stolen bases.

Despite the presence of Dustin Pedroia at second base in Boston, and much speculation that Moncada will be moved to another position because of Pedey, at this early point in his pro career, Moncada has played only second base.

Moncada certainly seems to be pace to reach Portland this season.  Based on his numbers the earliest promotion could come in May, and at the latest around July 4th.

2. Andrew Benintendi, OF- Salem {2}. If Moncada is knocking on the door to Hadlock Field, Benintendi is kicking in the front gates.  Last year's number one Sox draft pick is shredding the Carolina League to the tune of 1/22/.360/.426/1.066.  In 89 at bats through April Benny also had ten doubles and six triples. That means over 19% of his at bats resulted in extra base hits.  Benintendi also went through a stretch of 48 swings at the ball without a swing and miss ( the "miss" that started this streak was actually a check swing that Benintendi was ejected arguing over, before he had a clear swing and miss the streak had arrived at 60). Andrew ended April with an ongoing batting streak which had reached nineteen games, tying the all time Salem Red Sox record. Despite public pronouncements from Dave Dombrowski and other Sox execs, that a promotion is not near, if Benintendi continues this level of hitting in May, it seems unfathomable that he will not be a Portland Sea Dog any day now.

3. Rafael Devers,3B- Salem {3}. Devers is the only one of the super prospects who has struggled to begin 2016.  His April line was 2/8/.138/.242.504.  The one bright light in that meager line is the two home runs.  Devers is perhaps the one prospect for Boston who has the capacity to develop into a pure home run hitter. So the glimpse of home run power in April was encouraging.  There have been questions about Devers' ability to remain at third in the big leagues, so another encouragement has been his steady defensive play, according to manager Joe Oliver, while the bat struggles.  Unlike the two teammates ranked ahead of him here, Devers who'll play the entire 2016 campaign at age 19 (young for the Carolina League), is ticketed to spend all year at Salem.  Do not be the least bit surprised if Rafael ends his year  with numbers similar to 2015: 11/70/.288/.329/.773.

4. Anderson Espinoza, RHP- Greenville {4} The eighteen year from Caracas, Venezuela has continued to wow baseball personnel with his at times dominating pitching. One less than stellar game has inflated the ERA but his line is through five starts: 1-2/4.50/1.18/24-8.  The win was the first pro win for Espinoza due to the  strict innings limit imposed by Boston in 2015. So far this year Espinoza is being limited about five innings per start.  The 97+ fastball with excellent secondary pitches are still being flashed by Anderson.  The 24 K's, in only 22 innings, are only two strikeouts behind the system lead.  Espinoza only pitched 58 innings in 2015, so do not be surprised if his 2016 innings limit will be in the 100-115 range.

5. Sam Travis, 1B- Pawtucket {5} Travis, who impressed so strongly in the Red Sox spring games, has continued by putting up a very strong first AAA month. In April Travis hit 2/14/.289/.326/.760.  Sam also collected a half dozen doubles.  Travis is certainly positioning himself for a mid season call up to Boston if an injury should create an opportunity.  There had been talk of trying Travis in left field, but that has been put on the back burner while the Paw Sox have been training both Marco Hernandez and Blake Swihart in left field.

6. Brian Johnson, LHP- Pawtucket {6}. With Henry Owens' inability to grab even a temporary spot in the Boston rotation, Johnson could be next up.  With both Joe Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez in the middle of minor league rehabs, the next opportunity may be awhile though. Johnson has been off to an okay start to his 2016. 1-2/2.25/1.50/20-11 in four starts.  Johnson does seem healthy after an elbow scare which curtailed his 2015.

7. Michael Kopech, RHP-XST {7}.  Kopech still has not pitched in 2016 after breaking his pitching hand in a spring training off the field fight.  At this point his return is not imminent.  Only his long range ceiling and some top 100 prospects in all of baseball mentions last winter are keeping him from falling a few spots.

8. Michael Chavis, 3B-Greenville {9}. The decision to have Chavis repeat a level at Greenville, where he could be the clear cut starting third baseman was off to a great start. Chavis, who hit only .223 in 2015 for the Drive, put up an April of 3/14/.356/.415/.992.  Chavis' .356 was second to only Benintendi's .360 in the system. But unfortunately in late April, Michael injured his left thumb ligament and is on the disabled list, awaiting a verdict on a possible surgery. If Chavis should need the surgery and misses a substantial amount of 2016 it could set back the progress that been exhibited here in April.

9. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF- Greenville {10} Luis "Ax" Basabe is off to a very strong season at Greenville:3/10.259/.286.743.  The three home runs tied Basabe for third in the system with Michael Chavis. Ax also had five doubles and a triple.  Basabe also stole four bases without getting caught.  There is school of thought that the Sox were willing to trade Manuel Margot to San Diego not only due to Andrew Benintendi coming along but also because of Basabe.

10. Travis Lakins, RHP- Salem {13}.  Hidden among the very tall shadows cast by several of the super prospects playing in Salem is this 2015 sixth round draftee from Ohio State. After pitching just two innings for Lowell in '15, the Sox jumped Lakins all the way up to Salem out of spring training.  Lakins has not disappointed: 3-1/2.16/1.28/26-10, he lead the system for April in wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched in his five starts. Of the pitchers who have not yet reached AA or AAA, Lakins could be the one who comes through the system the fastest.

11. Nick Longhi, 1B- Salem {14}.  Another name lying in the weeds at Salem.  This 2013 draftee after hitting .330 at Lowell and .281 at Greenville the previous two seasons, began his High A career at: 0/16/.292/.354/.724.  The sixteen RBI was third for the Sox system in April.

12. Pat Light, RHP- Boston {12}  Light made his major league debut on April 26 after being recalled to help fortify an overused Boston bullpen.  In one inning of work he allowed two earned runs on two hits and a walk.  Light has since returned to AAA, where he continues to work on mastering his control of his very substantial fastball.  If Light's fastball can be harnessed, he is a definite candidate to help the Sox pen this year and going forward.

13. Marco Hernandez, U- Pawtucket {17}.  As the Sox look for an additional utility player to help the big club, Hernandez has emerged as a leading candidate.  After giving the middle infielder some play at third, Marco has now been playing some left field at AAA. Despite yo-yoing  between AAA and Boston, Hernandez had a strong April: 0/5/.333/.396/.855.

14. Deven Marrero, SS- Pawtucket {8} The former first rounder falls six spots down our list due to two factors: no clear path to a regular job in Boston and a terrible offensive April.  Marrero has always had the sterling defensive reputation, the question has been his bat.  April did nothing to answer that question: 0/6/.212/.264/.523.  When Boston needed infield bench help in April they recalled both Josh Rutledge and Marco Hernandez over Deven Marrero.  Nuf said.

15. Roniel Raudes, RHP- Greenville [24} Raudes is the second youngest player in the entire South Atlantic League, at age 18 years 3 months.  The youngest, of course, is Anderson Espinoza.  And if not for the presence of Espinoza in the Red Sox family, Raudes would likely be the most talked about young pitching phenom. His April line was 2-1/2.65/1.29/13-5. The Nicaraguan righty does not have the electric fastball of Espinoza.  Raudes' game is pounding the strike zone, he locates his upper 80's fastball as well as a plus curveball and change.  The pair of eighteen year olds are likely to spend the entire season at Greenville. It could be a lot of fun watching them come up the ladder together.



16. Mauricio Dubon, SS- Salem {15}.  Dubon may have the most envied position in the entire system.  Dubon bats second for Salem, in between Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi.  And his numbers exhibit how Dubon is taking advantage: 0/7/.314/.388/.737.  Dubon was promoted to Salem mid way through 2015 and because of that Dubon could be among the first Salem stars to move up to Portland.

17. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP- Portland {16}. Teddy's AA debut month was a smash success pitching for the Sea Dogs: 0-0/1.12/0.79/18-4 in 24 innings of work.  Stankiewicz, who admits to frequent tinkering in the past, feels a return to some previous mechanics has fueled his strong AA debut.

18. Noe Ramirez, RHP- Pawtucket {11}. Noe actually spent Opening Day and most of April with Boston.  The results were mixed at best: 0-0/5.79/2.0410-7.  At times Ramirez looked like an useful low leverage bullpen piece.  And other appearances just a guy to fill a roster spot, at best.

19. Yankory Pimental, RHP- Salem {27}. Another pitcher the Red Sox pushed to Salem from the 2015 Lowell Spinners out of spring training. The Dominican righty has been starring out of the Salem pen: 0-0/0.79/0.97/8-8 with two saves in six April appearances. The 22 year old spent four seasons total in the DSL and GCL and as a relief specialist could move quickly up the Red Sox organization.

20. Josh Ockimey, 1B- Greenville {30}.  When the Red Sox took Ockimey in the sixth round of the 2014 draft out of a Philadelphia area high school, many skeptics felt the Sox had over drafted Ockimey by many rounds.  But his calling card was a potential power hitter, and with home run power ebbing in the game, the Sox reached to him. He signed quickly and went to play in the GCL.  In 112 at bats Ockimey hit .188 with no home runs.  The skeptics looked correct. But in 2015 for Lowell Ockimey improved hitting .266 with four long balls.  Assigned to Greenville for 2016, Josh shot out of the gate: 5/10/.293/.430/1.017.  The five home runs were second in the system as was the 1.017 OPS( Benintendi was first), and the .430 OBP was second to Moncada's .450. Ockimey will play this entire season at age 20.

21. Wendell Rijo, 2B- Portland {18}. Rijo made his AA debut while playing second base for the Sea Dogs.  Rijo got off to slow start: 1/3/.169/.234/.523 with four doubles.  Rijo will not turn 21 until Labor Day weekend, but how much of an opportunity he gets to come out of his funk at AA may depend on when Moncada and Dubon hit town.

22. Trey Ball, LHP- Salem {20} Ball, who came out of spring training on the DL with a knee injury, made his debut for 2016 on April 29.  Trey was assigned back to Salem where he spent 2015.  His only April outing lasted four innings while allowing three hits and a walk for a pair of earned runs.  It seems like Ball has been around forever, but he will not turn 22 until late June.  This will be an important season for Ball.  According to his manager, Ball has physically matured and looks like a different guy.  His immediate goal should be to pitch well enough to get to Portland before too much of 2016 passes.

23. Williams Jerez, LHP- Portland {22}.  Jerez was converted full time to the bullpen in 2015 and he began 2016 in the Portland pen.  In eight games and 14 2/3 innings, Jerez posted okay numbers for the Dogs: 0-0/3.68/1.64/9-8 with a pair of saves.  Jerez is on the Red Sox forty man roster, which means if other times arise, as they did in April, where the Sox are scraping for pen depth, Jerez could appear in Boston this year.

24. Kyle Martin, RHP- Pawtucket {29}. More bullpen depth in the system at the AAA level. Martin made six April appearances for a total of ten innings.  His line was 2-0/5.40/1.40/11-0.  The stat that jumps out is the eleven K's without a walk.  Martin was drafted in the ninth round of 2013 from Texas A&M and at age 25 he is on the cusp of being big league ready.

25. Kyri Washington, OF- Greenville {NR}. Here is the player that was not ranked in our pre season Top 40 and his April has pushed him our 25th spot.  Washington was drafted last year in the 23rd round from Longwood University in Virginia.  Kyri split 2015 between Lowell and the GCl Sox hitting .263 at each stop. He announced his presence in Greenville with authority hitting a system leading six home runs as part of this line: 6/18/.295/.313/.954 with five doubles and two triples. His 18 RBI were second to Benintendi's 22.  If this April turns out not to be a fluke, Washington could continue to move up the rankings.

26. Chandler Shepherd, RHP- Portland {32}.  Another in the parade of bullpen prospects at different levels for Boston.  Shepherd posted outstanding April numbers: 1-1/2.08/0.77/17-3 with two saves.  Shepherd who was taken in the 14th round of the '14 draft from the University of Kentucky split 2015 between Greenville and Salem exclusively out of the pen.

27. Ty Buttrey, RHP- Portland {21} The fourth Sea Dogs pitcher on our list struggled in his AA debut: 0-4/4.24/1.59/12-13.  Buttrey who pitched his way back into prospect status in 2015, will need to greatly improve his control, more walks than strikeouts will not work.  It remains to be seen if Ty can adjust to AA and improve.  AA is often the dividing line between real prospects and just roster fillers.

28. Luis Alejandro Basabe, 2B- Greenville {38}. The twin brother of our number nine prospect is still not as highly regarded but seems to be emerging somewhat from his brother's shadow. "AJ" hit well 1/3/.271/.358/.748 with a pair of doubles and a triple.  AJ did not play every day but regularly for the Drive.

29 & 30. Christopher Acosta, RHP {26} & Yoan Aybar, OF {23}.  These two Dominican teenagers, both 18 years old, have not yet been assigned to a team.  The are both likely to be assigned to Lowell when their season begins in June.

As May opens these are currently the top 30 prospects as ranked by RSM, some of the players in our pre season top 40 and others ( ala Kyri Washington) await a chance to crack the Top 30.  And the draft for 2016 is just over a month away. Check back next month for the latest in the loaded Red Sox system.

2 comments:

  1. Andrew Benintendi is coming to Hadlock Field and the great state of Maine! A well-deserved promotion. I'm fired up to get down there and see him.

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