Saturday, August 6, 2016

RSM Top 30 Red Sox Prospects- August 2016

As expected there are more movements- comings and goings- on this month's rankings of the top of the Red Sox system than there has been from one month to the next in a long time.

Dave Dombrowski, while not pillaging the entire system as feared by some, did trade three players from July's top 30, and  fourth from July's honorable mentions.  Anderson Espinoza (#4) was the biggest name dealt by far.  He went to the Padres straight up for All Star pitcher Drew Pomeranz. Pat Light (#8) was dealt to the Twins on deadline day for fellow reliever lefty Fernando Abad.  Also from July's top 30 the Red Sox now only have one Luis Basabe in the system.  Luis Alejandro Basabe (#23) leaves his twin brother, Luis Alexander behind in Greenville, as "AJ" was traded to Arizona, along with pitcher Jose Almonte for Brad Ziegler. Paw Sox righty Aaron Wilkerson, who was just off the top 30 in July, was traded to Milwaukee for Aaron Hill. The Brewers also received second baseman Wendell Rijo, who had fallen off the top 30 in July, but had resided there for the last couple of seasons.  In addition to Rijo, another player no longer in the top 30 recently, but had spent many months on our rankings over several seasons has left the organization.  Infielder Sean Coyle was designated for assignment to make room on the 40 man roster.  The Angels claimed Coyle and he is now in their minor league system.

Last month, second round draftee, shortstop CJ Chatham joined our list as the first of the top picks from the draft to sign.  By the July 15 signing deadline, all of the the top ten picks had signed, and the other four players selected in the top five join Chatham on this list for August.

As usual the team listed behind each player is their assignment as of July 31 ( with one exception marked by an *).  The number in { } is July's rating.

The hitter's slash line:  HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS, for pitchers W-L/ERA/WHIP/K-BB.

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B Portland {1}.  Moncada was selected to play in the Futures Game in San Diego as part of baseball's All Star celebration.  He took the opportunity and polished his sterling reputation even more, by winning the game MVP. The highlight of his game was a long home run to left field.  Of note, Yoan hit the home run batting right handed.  During the regular season Moncada has 12 home runs, combining his A and AA totals. All 12 home runs have been hit from the left side by the switch hitting infielder. His right handed hitting is still one skill that could use some more minor league tuning. After the Futures game, the Sox brass continued to state the intent to leave Moncada at second base for this season.  However, just days later Moncada began a routine of pre-game workouts at third base with his manager at Portland, former big league infielder Carlos Febles.  As July ended and August began, rumors of a promotion to AAA abound as Yoan has hit 7/18/.307/.408/1.078 in his first full month at Portland.

2. Andrew Benintendi, OF Boston* {2}. Benintendi, who turned 22 on July 6th, continued to rake at AA after a slow start.  Benintendi was hitting just .213 in his first 47 at bats for the Sea Dogs.  In 190 AB's since his AA line is at 8/44/.295/.357/.872 with 18 doubles and five triples.  The Red Sox, after some quotes from Dave Dombrowski about being willing to bring players to the majors from AA in certain cases, began playing Benintendi in left field instead of his usual center.  Andrew capped his torrid July by being named the Eastern League Player of the Week for the 25th-31st. It turned out to be his last week in the Eastern League because in the late night hours of August 1, Benintendi was recalled to Boston and flew to Seattle to join the Sox. Benintendi made his MLB debut the next night going 0 for 2 as a late game sub.  On August 3, Andrew, in front of numerous family members who flew into Seattle for the game, had two singles while making his first big league start.  The chance to grab a big league job is there.  It will be fun to watch Benintendi play in a pennant chase.

3. Rafael Devers, 3B Salem {3} As well as the top two super prospects have played, in July Devers was right there with them.  Rafael collected 41 hits in July to go: 5/17/.357/.408/1.078 for the month.  After a terrible beginning to '16, Devers is now hitting .272 with nine home runs for the year.  Keith Law of ESPN ranked Devers as the seventh best prospect in all of MLB in his mid-season report. If Devers was truly a piece Dombrowski was dangling for pitching at the deadline, the Red Sox may be very happy in the future that Devers was not dealt.

4. Michael Kopech, RHP Salem {6}.  With the trade of Anderson Espinoza, Kopech inherits the mantle as the Sox best pitching prospect. Kopech, after an injury plagued beginning to 2016, finally made his Salem debut in July: 0-1/1.21/1.20/32-15.  Kopech did not allow an earned run until his fourth start. Kopech also gained attention around the game by hitting 105 mph on the radar guns in one  of his starts. A strong last month at Salem should set Kopech up to head the Sea Dogs rotation for Opening Day 2017.

5. Jason Groome, LHP GCL Red Sox {NR}.  At the signing deadline Boston came to an agreement with Groome, their first round pick, for $3.65M.  It had been widely reported the high school lefty, who had been by many considered the best player in this draft, was looking for $4M or more to sign. On July 30, Groome was assigned to the Red Sox team in the Gulf Coast League. If Groome turns out to be anything close to his draft profile, he could be the top name on this list in the future.

6. Sam Travis,1B Pawtucket {5}.  The first baseman whose season ended two months ago due to injury is still the top hitting prospect in the tier after the top three super prospects.

7. Brian Johnson, LHP Pawtucket {10}. Johnson has returned after dealing with depression issues.  Johnson made six starts in July,  two each for the GCL Red Sox and Lowell and then returned to AAA for two more.  Johnson has pitched very well since his return with a July ERA of 2.28 in the six starts.  The best sign of all is Johnson's command, which is his calling card, has returned with 26 strikeouts versus only eight walks in July.

8. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF {17}. Basabe is another player who has used a torrid July to turn around his poor start to 2016, and to rocket back up our rankings.  Basabe raised his batting average for the year to .263 with ten homers, by rocking July: 4/19/.363/.438/1.032.  For the year, Luis has 18 stolen bases in 21 attempts, and along with his ten home runs,  this provides a glimpse as to why scouts feel Basabe has 20/20 potential.

9. Josh Ockimey, 1B Greenville{12}. The first sacker, who has put together one of the best 2016's in the Sox system: 15/50/.253/.388/.859 with 22 doubles, has broken into our top ten for the first time. Ockimey actually struggled in July, hitting only .151. But Ockimey did hit four home runs, one of which was a 485 foot bomb.  Something to keep an eye on for August will be how Ockimey adjusts to the struggles of July.

10. Mauricio Dubon, SS Portland {11}. Another top ten newcomer, who has had a very solid, consistent season throughout stints with Salem and Portland.  For the season Dubon has hit .309.  On July 31st Dubon hit his first AA home run.

11. Michael Chavis, 3B Greenville {7}. Chavis continues to have a solid second season for the Drive after returning from an April injury.  Chavis is hitting .266 an improvement of over 40 points from the .223 Chavis compiled for Greenville in 109 games in 2015.

12. Marco Hernandez, U Pawtucket {9}. After hitting a very respectable 1/5/.295/.367 in limited time for Boston, Hernandez has settled back in at Pawtucket, where he is hitting .310 for the season.  Marco will continue to need to prove he can be more than a AAAA player, and compete for a big league spot as an utility player.

13. Nick Longhi, 1B Salem {13}. The only number really missing from an otherwise good season at Salem is the home run ball: 2/62/.288/.359.755 with 27 doubles and three triples for the year to date. Longhi has also played some in right field which could give him some positional flexibility going forward.

14.CJ Chatham, SS- Lowell {18}. In his first 28 pro at bats for the GCL Sox and Lowell, Chatham is off to a 4 for 28 start.  CJ was hitless in his first few GCL games and then broke out with a double and home run,  The next day Chatham was promoted to Lowell.

15. Roniel Raudes, RHP Greenvile{14}. The 18 year old is now the youngest member of the Drive after the Espinoza trade.  Raudes did not shine in July with a 5.76 ERA, but for the season his numbers are 9-3/443/1.28/82-17.  Obviously the 82 K's to only 17 walks is the number that jumps off the page.

16. Travis Lakins, RHP Salem {16} After a strong start to 2016 this Ohio State product has now struggled through both June and July.  But other than two innings pitched for Lowell in 2015, this is his pro debut and in High A.  Despite his July ERA of 7.20 raising his seasonal ERA to 5.93, Lakins is still a highly regarded pitching prospect.  On July 28 Lakins went on the Disabled List with right elbow inflammation, perhaps an explanation of the poor June and July.

17. Trey Ball, LHP Salem {15} The 2013 first rounder seemed to be coming around in early 2016, but Ball pitched poorly in late June and worse in July, with a terrible monthly ERA of 8.17. Ball had stretch of three July starts in which he did not make it to the fourth inning in any.  Ball's day of reckoning as a Sox prospect may be coming sooner rather than later.

18. Kyle Martin, RHP Pawtucket {21}.  With the trade of Pat Light, Martin moves to the top of the list of young bullpen prospects for Boston.  Martin continued a strong '16 campaign with a 2.93 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in July.

19. Chandler Shepherd, RHP Pawtucket {20}. And if Kyle Martin is #1 relief prospect, Shepherd is 1A. The 14th round draft pick in 2014, has made his way to AAA and in July had a 3.86 ERA in seven games.

20. Shaun Anderson, RHP Lowell {NR}.  Anderson was the third round pick for Boston in this year's draft.  Anderson signed on July 3 for $700,000.  Anderson, 6'4" 225 lb., was the closer for the University of Florida, but Boston is likely to try him as a starter.  By the end of July, Anderson, who features a 95 mph fastball, had made just one appearance at Lowell.

21. Mike Shawaryn, RHP unassigned {NR}.  This righty was the fifth round draft pick from the University of Maryland.  His three year career record for the Terrapins was 30-10.  Shawaryn signed for an over slot bonus of $637,500 on deadline day, with Boston using some of the money saved on Jason Groome.  Shawaryn throws in the low 90's and has a plus slider.

22. Yankory Pimental, RHP Salem {19} Another bullpen arm who has spent the season at Salem.  His line for the year is 7-5/3.47/1.35/51-29.  Like many of the pitchers on this list, Pimental struggled in July with an ERA of 6.75.

23. Bobby Dalbec, 3B Lowell {NR} The final new draftee on the August rankings.  The Sox grabbed this power hitting third baseman from the University of Arizona (where he also pitched, including in this year's College World Series).  Dalbec had an outstanding sophomore season at Arizona, but he regressed this year with many strikeouts.  But Dalbec has off the charts power potential, and if he can cut down even a little on the whiffs, and makes enough contact, the Sox may have stolen him in the fourth round.  Dalbec signed on July 15 for $650,000 (using more of the Groome savings) and on July 23 he his pro debut for Lowell.  In his first 18 at bats Dalbec has already hit his first pro home run and is hitting .444 (8 for 18).  Dalbec is one to really keep an eye on.

24. Tate Matheny, OF Greenville {25}. Matheny is a model of consistency in 2016.  In July he produced a line of 1/13/.318/.348/.771, with a nearly identical seasonal BA and OBP of .316 and .357.

25. Yoan Aybar, OF Lowell {28} Aybar who turned 19 on July 3, has been playing regularly in the Spinners outfield.  He has three home runs showing signs of his potential but his overall numbers are  a weak 3/12/.216/.269/.613.  Aybar ,who also has three doubles and two triples, hit only .177 in July.

26. Austin Rei, C Greenville {26}  Rei is another player whose future depends on being able to hit enough to match his stronger defensive game.  July brought mixed results, with only a .200 batting average but with four home runs for the young catcher.

27. Henry Ramos, OF Pawtucket {27}. July was not Ramos' best month as he hopes to take full advantage of his first AAA assignment: 3/8/.221/.269/.641.  Ramos is very athletic, but to have a big league career even as a fourth outfielder, he needs to hit more than .221.

28. Jake Cosart, RHP Greenville {NR} Cosart reappears in the top 30 after slipping from 26th in June to just off the top 30 in July.  Cosart has thrived after being converted full time to the bullpen this year.  Jake had one of the better July lines for any Red Sox minor league hurler: 1-0 with two saves and an ERA of 2.92.  His seasonal mark is 4-1 with 2.09 ERA.  But his outstanding entry on the seasonal stat sheet is 76 strikeouts with only 25 walks.  Cosart who can throw in the high 90's could move quickly as a bullpen arm.  The move began on August 4 when he was promoted to Salem.

29. Deven Marrero, SS Pawtucket {22}.  The former first round draft pick and top ten Red Sox prospect is on the verge of failure.  He has had a miserable 2016 at the plate:0/21/.196/.242/.277.  His July was even worse hitting only .134.   The question with Marrero since the day he was drafted is can he hit enough?  The answer is no.

30. Bryce Brentz, OF Boston {NR} The is an unique situation where a former top ten prospect whose light had dimmed made his way back to our list because of his major league showing.   In June with the Red Sox left field looking like a MASH unit, Brentz was recalled seemingly just as a warm body.  But in a platoon facing mostly lefty starters, Brentz has acquitted himself admirably.  He may never be a big league star, but Brentz has shown he could be at least a fourth outfielder for many big league teams.  Through July for Boston Brentz is hitting:1/7/.288/.327/.712 with a pair of doubles.  Brentz has also played well in left field overall.  On June 26 in Texas, Brentz hit his first big league home run.  When Chris Young returns from the DL, Brentz likely will return to AAA.  But by then he will have spent a coupe of months in the show, and another team may have been watching.

Here are few other names just missing the Top 30

Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP Portland
Jalen Beeks, LHP Portland
Luis Ysla, LHP Portland
Josh Pennington, RHP Lowell- '14 29th round draftee from Cape May, NJ who fell due to TJ surgery
Kyri Washington, OF Greenville
Steve Nogosek, RHP Lowell sixth round draftee, closer from Univ. of Oregon

Believe it or not August is the last full month for the minor leagues which end their  regular season campaigns on Labor Day.  Our next rankings will come after Labor Day, after those regular seasons are over.

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