Sunday, September 18, 2016

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects Season End Edition

Another minor league season is in the books, and as the big league club steams towards an AL East title, we will take time to rank the kids on the farm one last time for 2016. Although it was not a successful season in terms of wins and losses (with only Salem and Lowell making their playoffs- each eliminated quickly) there were a number of outstanding performances.  Some of these were by the biggest names on the farm, others were breakout seasons.

The team(s) listed behind each player this time are where the player spent the majority of his season.  The number in { } is the August ranking. The slash line for hitters is HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS, for hurlers W-L/ERA/WHIP/K-BB.

Let's take a look at the best the Red Sox system has to offer at the end of 2016.

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B-3B Salem-Portland {1}.  Moncada maintained his number one ranking all year long. And with the gentleman sitting a number two, that alone says much about Moncada.  Moncada raked at both levels: 4/34/.307/.427/.923 at Salem and exhibiting more home run power for the Portland Sea Dogs: 11/28/.277/.379/.910.  The numbers along with 40 additional extra base hit on top of the 15 home runs and his 45 stolen bases lead Baseball America to name Moncada as their minor league player of the year.  Moncada becomes the first Red Sox farmhand to win this prestigious award, which has been given out since 1981. But not the first Portland Sea Dog.  Josh Beckett won in 2001, while Portland was a Marlins affiliate. Moncada was recalled to Boston as the minor league season wound down.  Yoan had four quick hits, but is currently mired in a streak of nine straight strikeouts. Moncada has also been assigned to play in the Arizona Fall League, where he will get more work at third and hitting the off speed pitching. Expect Yoan to begin 2017 at AAA, but with a likely mid-2017 arrival in Boston, this time for good.

2. Andrew Benintendi, OF Salem-Portland-Boston {2}.  The 2015 first round draftee began 2016 by terrorizing the Carolina League: 1/32/.341/.413/.976 with 13 doubles and 7 triples. After a recall to Portland and a slow first 50 at bats or so, the onslaught continued in AA with the addition of the home run to his game: 8/44/.295/.357/.872 with 18 doubles and 5 triples. After Dave Dombrowski refused many trade requests for Benintendi at the August 1 deadline, he was recalled to Boston and made his MLB debut the next night.  He has not stopped hitting since reaching the show either: 1/10/.324/.364/.957 with 7 doubles, a triple, and 11 runs scored through September 17.  The only thing that has slowed Benintendi is a left knee sprain suffered on the bases in late August.  The injury was first thought to be season ending, but was not and Benintendi is back in the Boston lineup after being activated from the DL on September 13.  It will be very surprising if Andrew Benintendi is not a starting everyday outfielder for Boston in 2017 from Opening Day on.

3. Rafael Devers, 3B Salem {3}. There are very, very few systems in which Rafael Devers would not be the number one prospect. And Devers has his supporters. One unnamed scout recently was quoted in the Boston media as saying he felt Devers combined the best of Moncada's power and Benintendi's hitting tool.  After a very slow start to 2016, the nineteen year old ripped through the Carolina League in the second half, for example hitting .357 with 8 home runs in July.  Rafael finished the 2016 campaign with:11/71/.282/.335/.779 with 32 doubles and 8 triples.  Devers also scored 64 runs.  His 142 hits were second in the system, and he was in the top 6 in runs and RBI.  It has been long speculated that Devers would have to move off third, but he played very well defensively, in fact the Red Sox named Devers as the system defensive player of the year in their post season awards.  After spending all of 2016 at Salem (as expected), Devers, who turns 20 next month, is set to be in the Opening Day lineup for Portland in 2017.  Unless Dave Dombrowski uses Devers as a chip in an off season deal.  In order to pry Devers from Boston, it would have to be a very major trade.

4. Michael Kopech, RHP Salem {4}. After overcoming a broken hand suffered in a spring training off the field fracas, Kopech was dominate for nearly all of his time in Salem.  After pitching the Lowell Spinners opening game in June, Kopech reported to Salem. In 11 starts spanning 52 innings pitched, Kopech put up this line: 4-1/2.25/1.04/82-29.  Kopech's ERA was actually even better until he was rocked in his last start.  Kopech also pitched poorly in a Salem playoff game.  The most talked about number posted by Kopech was the reported 105 mph pitch he threw in a mid season game.  Kopech was assigned to the Arizona Fall League, where he will get back some of the innings lost to his hand injury and 2015's suspension.  Kopech should be on the mound for Opening Day 2017 for the Portland Sea Dogs.

5. Jay Groome, LHP GCL-Lowell {5} The first round draft pick this June at #12 overall signed with Boston near the the July 15 deadline.  The Sox sent him to Florida, where he worked on adjusting the the pro life at age 18. In late August Groome (who prefers to go by Jay rather than his given name of Jason) did pitch in two GCL games striking out 8 with no walks over four innings. Groome gave up three hits and a run. Jay ended his season by pitching a game for Lowell, another 2.2 innings and also made a post season appearance for the Spinners.  Groome also leads the names of players going to the Red Sox Instructional League this fall. Since the Lowell season does not begin until June, there is a strong chance Jay Groome begins 2017 with Greenville.  This would for the second straight year put a highly rated 18 year old pitcher in the Drive rotation.

6. Sam Travis, 1B  Pawtiucket {6} Travis, who was outstanding for Boston in spring training, continued to impress with a fast start at Pawtucket. His line was 6/29/.272/.332/.765 with ten doubles and 26 runs scored through May 29.  But on that date Travis tore his left ACL on the bases and missed the rest of 2016.  That ended his AAA debut after 47 games and 173 at bats.  Because of the limited AAA experience, it is very likely Sam begins 2017 back at Pawtucket.  Depending on how the Red Sox address the DH-1B situation after David Ortiz retires at the end of 2016, Travis could be in the mix by mid-2017.

7. Mauricio Dubon, SS Salem-Portland {10} Dubon, who began the year at #15 on the RSM rankings, reaches his highest point after an outstanding season: 6/69/.323/.379/.840 with 31 doubles, 9 triples, and 101 runs scored combining his time at A and AA. His 157 hits led the entire system as did the 101 runs scored.  He was second in BA and OBP. He hit even better for Portland than he did at Salem, hitting .339 with all six of his home runs for the Sea Dogs.  Dubon now profiles as a shortstop in the major leagues, but of course, Xander Bogaerts' presence precludes Dubon starting at short for Boston. Dubon could also play second, which he has done in the Boston system.  Most likely Dubon will be used as a trade chip, and after the 2016 outburst, this winter may be a time to sell high.

8. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF Greenville {8} Like Rafael Devers at Salem, Basabe was a highly regarded prospect who had a slow start to 2016.  Also like Devers, Basabe came on like gangbusters.
Luis finished at 12/52/.258/.325/.772 with 24 doubles and 8 triples, scoring 61 runs for the Drive.  Near the end of August, Basabe was promoted to Salem, going 8 for 22 in five games.  Basabe, also had the make the social adjustment of having his twin brother and Drive teammate, Luis Alejandro, traded in mid season to Arizona for Brad Ziegler.  Basabe will return for a longer stint in Salem to begin 2017, and do not be surprised if he moves in the top 5 Sox prospects in 2017.

9. Brian Johnson, LHP Pawtucket {7}.  Johnson had an up and down season that was punctuated by missing a substantial portion of year in mid season as he dealt with depression issues.  Johnson pitched better after he returned, but his calling card of great command of the strike zone faltered.  Brian ended the season with an ERA of 4.09.  The Red Sox chose not to recall Johnson in September as a depth starter, opting for Henry Owens instead.  2017 will be a pivotal year in Johnson's Red Sox career.  If he returns to his early 2015 form, he could contend for a rotation spot in Boston by mid 2017.  If not he may be considered organizational depth or could be traded.

10. Bobby Dalbec, 3B Lowell {23}. In the fourth round of this June's draft, the Sox grabbed Dalbec who had led the Cape Cod League in home runs in 2015.  This followed a strong sophomore season at Arizona.  Big time power is Dalbec's strong suit, but during his junior campaign at Arizona, he became known for striking out in big amounts.  The Sox signed Dalbec right after the College World Series, assigned him to Lowell and watched him erupt. In 34 games for the Spinners, Dalbec received 134 at bats and hit: 7/33/.386/.427/1.101 with 13 doubles and a pair of triples.  Because of Dalbec's major college background, it would not be surprising to see Boston push him.  Beginning 2017 at Salem rather than Greenville should be a real likelihood.  And if Dalbec continues to hit for power and average and limits his strikeouts, Dalbec could see Hadlock Field before 2017 is over. Between Jay Groome, Dalbec, and several college pitchers the 2016 draft could be seen as a bonanza for the Red Sox.

11. Josh Ockimey, 1B Greenville {9} After playing for short seasons teams in 2014 and 2015 (GCL and Lowell), the 20 year old burst on the scene at Greenville.  His 18 home runs cemented his spot as one of the best Sox power prospects.  But since 2016 was the first year spent with a full season team, Ockimey faded in the second half, finishing with just a .226 batting average.  But not only his power, but an OBP of .367 fueled by bushels of base on balls, offset the .226 BA somewhat.  The fact that Ockimey was a high school draftee from the northeast (Philly) in 2014, adds to the belief he just tired out this year. In 2017 at age 21 he will report to Salem, and this time he will be expected to hit over the entire campaign, if he is to be considered an elite prospect.

12. Michael Chavis, 3B Greenville {11}. Chavis returned for a second season at Greenville, and got off to a blazing start. But he injured his right thumb in April, and missed a month or so.  After his return, the numbers leveled off and he finished his Greenville year at: 8/35/.244/.321/.711.  Like Luis Basabe, at the very end of the season, Chavis was sent up to Salem for a handful of at bats. Chavis went 4 for 25 at Salem. Despite flashes of his reputed power, Chavis has now hit under .250 for each of his two seasons for the Drive.  His 2017 assignment to Salem should produce a pivotal year for Chavis, although he will still be just 21.

13. Marco Hernandez, IF Pawtucket-Boston {12}. Because of the way the Red Sox utilized Hernandez, it is somewhat difficult to judge him as a "prospect".  But there is no question Hernandez has gone from joining the Sox system to begin 2015, in a trade from the Cubs, as just another guy to a player who has hit .311 in 45 major league at bats this year. It is not out of the question that Marco could be on the Red Sox post season roster.

14. Roniel Raudes, RHP Greenville {15}. This 18 year old was named by the team as the Red Sox minor league pitcher of the year.  He spent the entire season at Greenville as one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League. His line of: 11-6/3.65/1.19/104-23 came in 24 starts for a total of 113.1 innings. His fastball is only at 89-91, but his success is predicated on outstanding control.  Although the Red Sox expect his velocity to increase as he matures.  Raudes will spend his age 19 season in the Carolina League, where again he will one of the youngest players in his league.

15. Nick Longhi, 1B Salem {13} Longhi continues his one level per season climb up the Red Sox system, spending 2013-15 at GCL, Lowell, and Greenville before spending this whole season at Salem. Longhi put another solid season, with his 77 RBI and 40 doubles each leading the Red Sox system.  With players like Sam Travis and Travis Shaw ahead of Nick, and Josh Ockimey behind, the competition for future time at first base in Boston could be fierce, although Longhi also has limited outfield playing time.  For now Longhi will continue his one step at at time trip up the ladder, by opening 2017 as the first baseman in Portland.

16. CJ Chatham, SS Lowell {14}. CJ was the first of the higher Red Sox draft picks to sign this summer.  The second rounder made a brief 24 at bat cameo in the Gulf Coast League, then was promoted to Lowell.  Chatham hit a respectable 4/19/.259/.319/.745 while scoring 19 runs for Lowell. 2017's Opening day assignment should be as starting shortstop for Greenville. Chatham along Bobby Dalbec and most of the other 2016 high draft picks will report to the Instructional League.

17. Travis Lakins, RHP Salem {16} This 2015 draftee from Ohio State pitched only a couple of innings for Lowell in 2015 and made GCL playoff appearance.  But for all intents and purposes, Lakins made his pro ball debut for high A Salem.  This assignment shows how highly regarded Lakins is by Boston. And Travis began the campaign with a couple of strong months.  His numbers fell precipitously in the second half.  In early August, Lakins was placed on the DL with right elbow inflammation. He did make 19 starts for 91 innings, so his 2017 could begin back in Salem, or a strong training camp could push him to Portland.

18. Trey Ball, LHP Salem {17}. The former first round draftee began the season on the DL with a leg injury.  When healthy, Ball returned to Salem for a second season. His overall numbers were acceptable: 8-6/3.84/1.61/86-68.  But as you can see from the WHIP and K to BB ratio, Ball's command continues to be an issue.  The ERA is actually his best to date.  In 2017, Ball will report to Portland, and at age 22, still has time to take a step forward. Before that Ball will pitch for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League.

19. Kyle Martin, RHP Pawtucket {18} The tall 6'7" righty, taken in the 2013 draft in the ninth round from Texas A&M, spent all of 2016 in Rhode Island, after a spring training invite with the big club. Martin was effective out of the pen exclusively: 3-4/3.37/1.18/78-21 with six saves.  However, despite the numbers one wonders with all of the bodies shuffling in and out of the Boston pen, why was Martin not tried? In spring training 2017, Martin, who began the year as #29 on our list, should be in competition for a Boston bullpen spot.

20. Chandler Shepherd, RHP Portland-Pawtucket {19} Shepherd is the other top bullpen prospect in the upper levels of the system. Shepherd split the season between AA and AAA and pitched well in both spots. In 40 games over both levels Shepherd complied 7 saves in 64 innings.  Shepherd will likely go back to Pawtucket to begin 2017, with a call to Boston a possibility.

21. Shaun Anderson, RHP Lowell {20} The third rounder from this year draft was the closer at the Univ. of Florida.  The Sox will use Anderson as starter initially.  Anderson' s brief cameo with Lowell did not go well at all. In two games, Anderson pitched 2.2 innings giving up 12 hits and 9 runs for an ERA of 30.38.  But in reality Anderson will begin his pro baseball journey in 2017, likely in Greenville.

22. Yankory Pimental, RHP Salem {22} This Dominican righty, who will turn 23 on September 29, was a season long relief ace for Salem.  In 32 games pitched, Yankory hurled 78 innings posting a line of 9-6/3.12/1.37/70-36 with four saves. Pimental will arrive in Portland to begin 2017, and from that platform will hope to push for a bullpen spot in Boston by late 2017 or 2018.

23. Mike Shawaryn, RHP Lowell {21} Another right handed college pitcher (Maryland) grabbed by Boston in this year's draft. Mike was drafted in the fifth round and paid an over slot bonus of $637,500. Shawaryn also dipped his toe into the pro ball water at Lowell. Unlike Shaun Anderson, Shawaryn had a very good 0-1/2.87/1.40/22-7 in six games for 15.2 innings. With a number of potential starters for Greenville, there is a chance the Red Sox could push Shawaryn up to Salem a la Travis Lakins in '16.

24. Tate Matheny, OF Greenville {24} The son of the Cardinals manager compiled a very nice second pro season.  In 2015 Tate hit only .181 in nearly 200 at bats for Lowell.  But it was a different story in Grenville this year: 5/52/.277/.324/.706 with 20 doubles, four triples, and scored 59 runs.  In many quarters, Matheny is not considered a bona fide big league prospect.  But could he follow in the foot steps of another recent Sox minor leaguer who is the son of a former big leaguer, Travis Shaw? Next year at Salem could be a step towards answering that.

25. Jake Cosart, RHP Greenville-Salem {28} If you are looking for a bullpen ace who could be quickly on the rise through the system, it could the brother of big leaguer, Jared Cosart. Jake has a big time high 90's fastball and he compiled great numbers at both stops: 4-1/2.05/1.16/76-25 with 4 saves at Greenville and 0-0/1.00/1.00/28-11 in 18 innings for Salem.  Cosart should begin 2017 in the Sea Dogs bullpen, although a return to Salem for a few more Class A innings is not out of the question.

26.Yoan Aybar, OF Lowell {25} The international signee who first signed with Boston on his sixteenth birthday in 2013, struggled offensively in Lowell. After hitting.271 and .268 the previous two seasons in the DSL and GCL, Aybar finished 2016 for Lowell at .207.  But the nineteen year old did hit his first three pro home runs. Despite the low BA, Aybar is on target to play for the Grenville Drive next year.  Aybar is also the "lottery ticket" kind of prospect that could be included in a trade package by Boston this winter.

27. Justin Haley, RHP Portland-Pawtucket {NR} This big 6'5" righty makes his debut for the year on this list. Haley was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 draft from Fresno State.  Haley first arrived in Portland on July 29, 2014 after a strong Salem performance.  But then Haley after finishing 2014 in Maine, spent all of 2015 there (5-16, 5.15 ERA) and returned to Portland to begin 2016. Haley was one of the few bright lights for the early season Sea Dogs going: 5-4/2.20/1.10/59-19 in a dozen starts earning his long awaited promotion to AAA.  Haley then made 15 more starts for Pawtucket and pitched nearly as well as he did in AA: 8-6/3.59/1.12/67-26. Haley capped his strong season by pitching his best game of the year in his last start: 8 scoreless innings allowing 2 hits with 7 strikeouts. Haley will turn 26 next June, so it may be his time to compete for a big league job.  Haley will need to be placed on the 40 man roster this winter or the Sox run risk of losing Haley in the Rule 5 draft.

28. Josh Pennington, RHP Lowell {34}Another pitcher making his debut in our top 30, after an honorable mention in August. Pennington was drafted out of a New Jersey high school in the 29th round in 2014.  He dropped way down the draft due to needing Tommy John surgery in high school.  Pennington signed somewhat unexpectedly, and sat out all of '14 and spent all of 2015 in the GCL. In 2016 Pennington pitched for Lowell: 5-3/2.86/1.16/49-27 in 13 games for 56.2 frames.  Now that Pennington is healthy, and still just 21,  Boston may have stolen a top prospect in the 29th round back in 2014.

29. Jaleen Beeks, LHP Salem-Portland This 5'11" lefty was drafted in the 2014 in the 12th round out of the Univ. of Arkansas (the next year the Sox grabbed Andrew Benintendi from the same school).  After pitching five innings in the GCL in 2014, Beeks made his full season debut in 2015 spending the whole year at Greenville going 9-7 with 100 strikeouts with only 28 walks in 145 innings. Beeks made his high A debut this year at Salem after compiling a 3.07 ERA in 13 starts, he was pushed up to Portland.  For the Dogs Beeks went: 5-4/4.68/1.5356-28 in 13 more starts. Beeks will continue his efforts to impress the Sox by pitching in the Arizona Fall League.

30. Kyri Washington, OF Greenville {35} Kyri sneaks back into the top 30, where he debuted for the first time earlier this year. Washington finished:16/73/.262/.323/.810 with 20 doubles and 9 triples and scored 51 runs in a complete campaign spent in Greenville. Washington is at best a borderline prospect, but his 16 home runs were third in the system behind AAAA player Chris Marrero and Josh Ockimey. The power, if Kyri can sustain it, could be his calling card.

Here are another baker's dozen names that were under consideration for this list:

* Luis Ysla: made his AAA debut in last appearance of the year
*Austin Rei: U of Washington product hit only .212 at Greenville
* Steve Nogosek: Another  college righty drafted in June's draft
*Teddy Stankiewicz: August 2 pitched first complete game one hitter in Sea Dogs history
*Austin Glorius: signed in 2015 as undrafted pitcher from Valdosta State, 3.20 ERA in '16
* Marc Brakeman: 15th rounder in '15 from Stanford, 76K/19BB in 2016 for Greenville
*Aneury Tavarez:  outfielder second in EL with .335 BA, first strong season in Sox system
*Williams Jerez: lefty spent all of 2016 in Portland pen with 4.71 ERA
*Henry Ramos: AAA debut in mid season, hit .247, returned to Portland (hit .281 at AA)
*Devin Marrero: former top ten prospect finishes below Mendoza line at AAA: .198
* Bryce Brentz: played at Portland, Pawtucket & Boston, hit the best in Boston .279 w/ 1st MLB HR
* Jamie Callahan: assigned to Arizona Fall League
* Noe Ramirez : just enough MLB games to show he is just bullpen filler

That brings a close to this minor league season.  During the winter between the winter meetings and spring training, RSM will review the list again updating for any changes due to trades, fall/winter league performances, or just a change of heart by RSM as some 2016 performances may be re-evaluated.

Go Sox bring home another trophy!

1 comment:

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