Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Reasons the Red Sox Can Beat the Houston Astros

First let me start by saying the Astros are very deserving favorites in this ALDS.  The Astros have a massively talented offensive lineup and good (just good) pitching.  But the Red Sox, I am sure go into this series thinking they can win.  And here are several reasons why the fan base should think their team can win as well.

1. Our ace is better than your ace. Justin Verlander has been everything the Astros could have possibly hoped for.  He has made five starts since being acquired from Detroit in late August. Mr. Kate Upton's record is 5-0 with an ERA of 1.06 compiling 43 strikeouts in 34 innings.  On the flip side, Boston's Chris Sale has struggled in September.  In five starts, Sale gave up nine home runs and had a September ERA of 3.72.  Now that is a struggle for Sale, but most major league pitchers would kill for an ERA of 3.72.  Including his less than stellar last month, Sale's ERA for 2017 was 2.90         (along with his 308 K's).  Verlander's seasonal ERA was 3.36.

Many articles out there list Verlander's expected Game One dominance as one reason Houston is heavily favored.  Now Chris Sale has never pitched in the post season, but you can bet he is looking forward to it with every fiber of his being.  There are very few pitchers in baseball as good or better than Chris Sale (Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber), but at age 34 Justin Verlander is not one of them.

2. Experience.  After 2016's unexpected three and out versus Cleveland, Mookie Betts, speaking for himself and the other young players, said how the intensity and big stage of the post season needed to be experienced.  There is little other way to really handle it. This Red Sox team is loaded with post season experience.  Here is a breakdown:

First time post season in 2017: Chris Sale, Rafael Devers, Deven Marrero, some middle relief candidates ( Carson Smith, Robby Scott, Heath Hembree)

Players who made first playoffs trip in 2016: Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Andrew Benintendi, Sandy Leon, Brock Holt, Drew Pomeranz, Matt Barnes, Eduardo Rodriguez, Christian Vazquez ( Rodriguez and Vazquez were on the '16 roster but did not play).

Now for some of the other pitchers ( total games and # of series)

David Price        15 Games  6 ALDS, 2 ALCS, 1 World Series
Rick Porcello     9 Games   4 ALDS, 2 ALCS, 1 WS
Doug Fister        9 Games   3 ALDS, 1 NLDS, 3 ALCS, 1 WS
Craig Kimbrel    8 Games   1 NLWC, 2 NLDS, 1 ALDS
Addison Reed    10 Games  1 each NLWC, NLDS, NLCS, WS  appeared in the last two post seasons)
Joe Kelly           14 Games  4 NLDS, 1 ALDS, 2 NLCS, 1 WS

Now around the diamond to check how many playoff series some of the offensive players have appeared in.

Dustin Pedroia       5 ALDS, 3 ALCS, 2 World Series
Xander Bogaerts    2 ALDS, 1 ALCS, 1 WS
Hanley Ramirez     2 NLDS, 1 ALDS, 1 NLCS
Mitch Moreland     1 ALWC, 4 ALDS, 2 ALCS, 2 WS ( this will Moreland's 6th post season)

Back up outfielders Rajai Davis and Chris Young also have multiple post season appearances.

This is not to say Houston does not have some experience (hello, Carlos Beltran) but this factor has to help the Sox perform beyond 2016's level.

3. Bullpen.   No matter how you slice it,  Houston's bullpen does not match up with the other AL contenders.  Houston finished tenth in the AL in bullpen ERA with 4.27.  The Astros had 21 blown saves and allowed 272 hits.  By comparison Boston's bullpen ERA was 3.15, second in the league to Cleveland's 2.89.  The Sox allowed 186 hits from their relief corps.  And while Ken Giles and Chris Devenski anchored the Houston pen, both have no post season experience.  And Devenski faltered as the season went along.

In contrast Boston's all ready dominant pen is getting even more help from Carson Smith and David Price.  If both Price and Smith match their somewhat unexpected September results, the Boston pen can be every bit as good as World Series teams of recent campaigns like the 2016 Indians and the 2014-15 Royals.

4. Lefty Starters.  If you look through all of Houston's splits they are dominant everywhere, home, away, etc.  But here may be an Achilles heel.  The Astros had a losing record in games started by left handed starters: 21-24.  Now who just happens to have at least two if not three left handed starters.  That would be the Boston Red Sox with two of the best AL lefty starters in Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz. If Houston falters versus those lefties, Eduardo Rodriguez is hanging around as well.  Now one caveat, shortstop Carlos Correa missed a big hunk of the second half, and with Correa in the lineup, the Astros are 19-13 versus lefty starters.  Still something to keep an eye on in Games One and Two.

5. Red Sox beat good teams.  This little note from Tim Britton of the Providence Journal: the Red Sox have the best winning percentage in MLB in 2017 versus teams with winning records.  And in fourteen games agains the two super powers of the AL, Houston and Cleveland, the Sox were 7-7.  The Sox took Cleveland 4-3 and after splitting the first six seasonal games, Houston won a meaningless last game of the season.

6. Sox Offense. Yes I know Boston did not hit home runs like nearly every other team this year. Yes the Sox were last in AL homers, their 168 trailed the next to last White Sox by 18.  And the Astros clubbed 238, 70 more than Boston.  But home runs do not tell the whole story, the object of the game is to score runs.  And while Houston lead the league with 896, the Red Sox were a respectable sixth in the AL with 785.

So this comment about the Red Sox offense is more about potential than season long production.  Would anyone be shocked if Mookie Betts caught fire and carried this team on his back?  Or Andrew Benintendi, Hanley Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts?  Mitch Moreland seemed to be heating up again with some long balls coming down the stretch.  And Jackie Bradley, Jr. finished the season in one of his patented slumps.  How many times has he followed a terrible slump with an out of this world hot spell.  Or if Dustin Pedroia or Eduardo Nunez are healthy enough to contribute.  Last year rookie Andrew Benintendi lead the Sox in post season BA and tied for lead in home runs and RBI.  Can Rafael Devers do that this time?

Boston has enough potential offense to win it all, but some or all must produce.

7. Underdogs. as we said at the top, Houston and Cleveland are the top dogs in the AL.  No argument about that.  That means the Boston Red Sox are the nothing to lose underdogs (okay, if the Sox are swept out of the ALDS for the second straight year, John Farrell likely has something to lose: his job). But with other teams expected to win and having a team loaded with post season experience, the Red Sox are positioned much like last year's Indians team.  Tito Francona's club was written off by all, teams were falling over themselves to get to play them.  All that happened was Cleveland getting into extra innings of World Series Game Seven, before succumbing.

So take heart Red Sox fans, here are a few reasons to have hope as the ALDS begins on Thursday.  My fearless prediction is Boston over Houston in five games.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects- September 2017

Another minor league season has ended for the Red Sox system.  Only one affiliate qualified for the post season, the Greenville Drive.  Congratulations are due to the Drive, as they won the South Atlantic League playoffs, and are the league champions.

The other news here on our list, and in Red Sox Nation, is the blossoming of Rafael Devers as the everyday third baseman for the division leading Boston Red Sox. Devers has indeed played nearly every game at third since his recall. In 44 games through September 16 Devers is hitting .292 with eight home runs and twenty RBI. Devers reached the 130 at bat mark on September 4th, meaning he is now classified as a major league rookie and no longer a prospect.  So we will have a new number one prospect on our list as we go into the off season.  Other than the top there is not much change since August, only one complete newcomer to the top 30 and two others who have been in the top 30 before return.  Devers and two others exit the top 30.

As usual the team listed with the player is where he ended 2017.  The slash lines used for hitters are: HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS and for pitchers: W-L/ERA/WHIP/K-BB.

1. Jay Groome, LHP {2}- Greenville.  Last year's first round draftee, with Devers now graduated, has by far the highest ceiling of any prospect listed here.  But no matter how you slice it, Groome's first full pro season was a roller coaster ride.  Groome missed substantial time due to injury.  Jay suffered a lat muscle injury in his first start of the year and was out until June.  After his return Groome made 14 starts including a couple for Lowell. His line was 3-9/5.69/1.43/72-30 in 55.1 innings.  Not great raw numbers except for 72 K's in 55 innings.  But Groome was pitching very well at times.  For example, on August 7, he pitched five shutout innings, and combined with his previous start, Jay compiled eleven innings of scoreless ball with 14 K's. But on August 24th the roller coaster plunged downward again when Groome returned to the DL again.  Groome finished the year on the DL, missing the Drive's championship run.  Groome was disabled with a forearm strain, with "no structural damage".  If Groome can have a healthier 2018, he may return to Greenville or be pushed to Salem to begin the season.  With Dave Dombrowski's record of pushing young pitchers to the big leagues, it would not be surprising if Groome's early 2018 is healthy and productive, he could make it to Hadlock Field before his 20th birthday on August 23, 2018.

2. Michael Chavis, 3B {3}- Portland.  There is no question of the players who spent the entire season in the minors (in other words not Rafael Devers) Chavis easily was the outstanding player of the year for Sox minor leaguers. The former first round pick from 2014, in his first three seasons with the Sox system had 25 home run combined and after hitting .269 for the 2014 GCL Sox , had not come close to that average since.  But Chavis crushed the ball all season long, first for Salem, then AA Portland.
Chavis' combined line was 31/94.282/.347/.910  with 35 doubles and a pair of triples.  His 31 bombs tied Bryce Brentz for the system lead. There are two main questions going forward for Chavis.  First was 2017 a fluke or is this batting production the real Michael Chavis?  Chavis had been hurt throughout his entire career until 2017 and he was a first round draftee considered to have power potential.  So it is entirely possible Chavis can be this type of power hitter.  The second question will come into play as soon as next year (maybe even this off season). The question is, with Rafael Devers looking anchored in Boston for a long, long time, where will Michael Chavis play in the big leagues? Often third base minor leaguers who are blocked get moved to first base.  And first base is the closest thing Boston has to an upcoming open line up spot.  But Chavis is 5'10" and there have not been many major league first baseman who are under six feet.  Many observers feel this would prevent Chavis from playing there.  Chavis is one of six Sea Dogs going to play in the Arizona Fall League, and he is expected to get some time at first base.  This experiment may answer the part of the positional question.  If in fact Boston truly has an opening at first base in 2018 and beyond may depend on our next prospect.

3. Sam Travis, 1B {4}- Boston.  Travis was a September call up to Boston, another leg in the season long Pawtucket-Boston shuttle for Sam.  Travis is hitting .304 in his big league appearances, and has received some starting time in the September pennant drive for Boston. With Hanley Ramirez missing some games due to injury lately and with Boston's season long struggle versus lefties, it is possible Travis could find his way onto the post season roster. But the long term question with Travis is still can he find enough home run power to be an everyday big league first baseman?  He has a half dozen doubles for Boston but has yet to hit his initial home run.  In 304 at bats at AAA, Travis had six home runs.  Especially if Travis finds himself competing with Michael Chavis and his power, Travis' own ability to hit home runs will be paramount.  If the Red Sox decide to go outside of the organization and bring in an established first sacker (Eric Hosmer, Jose Abreu?), at least one if not both of Chavis and Travis could become trade chips.  Travis will play winter winter ball in the Dominican Republic, trying to recoup some at bats lost on the shuttle.

4. Daniel Flores. C {5}-unassigned.  Flores will not see game action until the 2018 Dominican Summer League season. But the 16 year old Venezuelan catcher still has the scouts buzzing about his cannon of an arm and his switch hitting abilities.  Flores, considered to be the second best international prospect in this year's pool of available talent, was bet on by the Sox to the tune of a $3.1 million dollar bonus.  If someone other than Jay Groome is atop of this list a year or so from now it could be Flores.

5. Bryan Mata, RHP {6}- Greenville. Another of teenage phenoms near the top of this list.  Mata will not turn 19 until May 3 of next year. By then Bryan should be hurling for Salem in the Carolina League.  Unlike Groome, Mata did take his rotation turns for the Drive during the playoffs.  In consecutive starts, one being his his last regular season start and the other his first playoff start, Mata threw fifteen innings giving up one earned run and had twenty strikeouts.

6. Josh Ockimey, 1B {7}- Portland. On August 1st, Ockimey was promoted to Portland after putting up a very solid 11/63/.275/.388/.827 line at Salem.  The thought was the Red Sox were challenging Ockimey with move to AA.  Ockimey responded well  3/11/.272/.372/.799 in 103 at bats for the Sea Dogs. Ockimey, who turns 22 in October, very likely will return to Portland to begin 2018.  But a promotion to AAA before 2018 is over could be in the cards for Ockimey.

7. Tanner Houck, RHP {10}- Lowell.  This year's first round draft pick from the University of Missouri made his pro debut for the Lowell Spinners. Houck pitched in ten games for 22.1 innings. Houck had 25 strikeouts in those 22.1 innings.  Boston has often pushed college pitchers up their system, so Houck could very well begin 2018 in Salem.

8. Mike Shawaryn, RHP {13}- Salem. Shawaryn, who was drafted in June 2016 in the fifth round from University of Maryland, had one of the outstanding minor league seasons for the Red Sox in 2017.  Shawaryn split the campaign between Greenville and Salem, pitching effectively for both. His combined line was 8-7/3.81/1.21/169-48.  The 169 strikeouts, in 134.2 innings, led the entire system by a fairly wide margin. Shawaryn is sure to begin 2018 pitching for the Portland Sea Dogs, less than two full years after being drafted.

9. Jaleen Beeks, LHP {9}- Pawtucket.  Beeks would be Shawaryn's main competition for pitcher of the year in the Sox system.  The University of Arkansas product also made two stops, splitting his season between Portland and Pawtucket: 11-8/3.29/1.21/155-55. Beeks was second in strikeouts to Shawaryn.  A September call up to Boston was widely speculated, but not being on the 40 man roster seemed to prevent the promotion.

10. Bobby Dalbec, 3B {8}- Greenville.  Dalbec's season was interrupted by a hamate bone injury in mid season.  But Dalbec did get back in time to finish the regular season and participate in the Drive's successful playoff run. Dalbec was 2-4 with an RBI in the championship game, and also hit a big three run home run to help win another.  Dalbec did get into 85 games, with a somewhat disappointing line of 13/41/.248/.347/.772.  Dalbec is still likely to begin next season at Salem.  A productive first half could very well lead Dalbec to Portland.

11. Cole Brannen, OF {11}- Lowell.  This year's second round draft pick played in 39 games for the Gulf Coast Red Sox batting .231 but with an OBP of .383.  Brannen, known for his speed, also stole nine bases in ten attempts.  Brannen was promoted to Lowell on September 3rd, and he played in three games for the Spinners, going one for nine, with another stolen base.  Brannen should begin 2018 playing in Greenville.

12. Brian Johnson, LHP {12}- Pawtucket.  2017 was a split decision for Johnson. He showed he can pitch at the big league level, making five starts.  Johnson won two games with an ERA of 4.33.  One of the wins was a complete game.  But when September rolled around Johnson was not one of the September call ups. Doug Fister swallowed up the rotation spot the Johnson intermittently filled earlier and no other available starting spots opened.  So Johnson did not rejoin the big club, and leaves his status with Boston murky for 2018.

13. Alex Scherff, RHP  {14} GCL Red Sox.  Boston swooped in and grabbed this highly regarded Texas high school righty in the fifth round of this year's draft.  Even though Scherff was assigned to the GCL Red Sox he did not appear in a game.  It is not uncommon for the Red Sox to handle newly draft pitchers with kid gloves, especially high schoolers.  Scherff will likely make his pro debut next June in the rotation for the Lowell Spinners.

14. Roniel Raudes, RHP {17}- Salem.  This nineteen year old from Nicaragua did not match his 2016 campaign at Greenville when at age 18 he won eleven games with an ERA of 3.65.  But even with a line of 4-7/4.50/1.53/95-44, Raudes did pitch an entire season at High A at the tender age of 19.  Because of the so-so numbers and his age, Raudes is likely to return to Salem to begin next year.  Numbers that look more like 2016's could get him to Portland before next year is over.

15. CJ Chatham, SS {18}- Greenville.  Chatham finished the year where he spent the most of it, on the DL. Chatham began the year expecting to be assigned to Grenville, but he ended only playing one game for the Drive getting three at bats.  CJ also had sixteen rehab at bats for the GCL Red Sox, and those  nineteen at bat's were it for the season.  Chatham is still highly regarded as an offensive minded shortstop.  2018 needs to be a healthy, bounce back year for the second round draftee from Florida Atlantic.

16. Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP {16}- Greenville. The twenty year old left hander spent the entire season with the champion Greenville Drive team. His line 4-5/4.01/1.30/116-49 came in twenty three games on the hill.  Hernandez was a key contributor all year long through the playoffs for the Drive. A full season at Salem in 2018 is likely.

17. Tzu-Wei Lin, IF {20}-Boston.  Lin was of the more interesting stories of 2017.  Into his third year with the Portland Sea Dogs, Lin who had a sterling defensive reputation, finally seemed to click offensively.  Lin was hitting .302 with seventeen extra base hits, when Boston, in late June, desperate for infielders due to injury called Lin from Portland to the majors. Lin surprisingly held his own at the plate for Boston as well, hitting .273 in 55 at bats.  Lin also contributed in the field and on the bases.  Lin was sent to AAA after his first stint in the major leagues. Lin only hit .227 in Pawtucket, but was called back to Boston on September 2nd.  If given the opportunity, Lin could very well compete for the super utility job now held in Boston by Brick Holt in 2018.

18. Brett Netzer, 2B {22}- Greenville.  The infielder drafted this year in the third round from UNC-Charlotte began his pro career in Lowell.  Netzer hit .317 in 22 games for the Spinners, and then was promoted to Greenville on August 2nd. Brett played in another 26 games for the Drive and into the post season for Greenville.  Netzer was the offensive star in the title clinching game for Greenville, going 2-3 with three RBI.  With his college pedigree, Netzer should begin 2018 playing in Salem.

19. Danny Diaz, 3B {15}- unassigned.  Another international signee from July, Diaz also will make his pro debut next year in the Dominican Summer League.  Diaz was an amateur shortstop, but has all ready been converted to third base by Boston.

20. Bryce Brentz, OF {37}- Pawtucket.  One likely last appearance in the top 20 RSM prospects list for the long time Red Sox farmhand.  After working with Paw Sox hitting coach, Rich Gedman, Brentz incorporated a toe tap into his hitting setup and his numbers soared.  Brentz finished the year with 31 home runs, leading the IL and tying Michael Chavis for the system lead.  Brentz was named to the year end IL All Star team, and from mid August on, his return from AAA was discussed.  But Brentz had been taken off the 40 man roster in the spring, and Dave Dombrowski determined there was no one he wanted to cut to make room for Brentz.  Despite the overall lack of power for the parent Red Sox and ongoing struggles versus lefty pitching, Brentz was deemed as not needed. Despite his banner AAA season, it is quite obvious, Brentz is not wanted in Boston.  Bryce will be a minor league free agent this winter, and finally it seems, he will move on from the only organization he has ever played for. It is hard to believe that Bryce Brentz could not have provided more to the 2017 Red Sox these last two months than Chris Young.

21. Travis Lakins, RHP {19}-Portland.  In just two years since being drafted, Lakins had progressed to AA Portland.  But as mentioned last month, for the second straight year, Lakins ended his season on the DL with stress fracture in his pitching elbow.  If he can remain healthy, Lakins could reach AAA next year.  That may be a big if.

22. Danny Mars, OF {23}- Portland. The switch hitting Mars compiled his second straight strong offensive season, this time for the Sea Dogs in AA.  After hitting .293 for Salem in 2016, this year Mars hit 6/47/.304/.351/.754 with 21 doubles and four triples.  Despite the six home runs Mars does not really profile has having much power.  Mars did steal twelve bases, but neutralized this by being caught stealing ten times.  A promotion to begin '18 in AAA is likely.

23. Jake Thompson, RHP {27}- Lowell. Thompson was drafted by Boston in the fourth round of the June 2017 draft out of Oregon State.  Thompson, who signed after the College World Series, has an impressive fastball which can reach 98.  Thompson pitched in seven games for Lowell for 11.1 innings. Thompson struck 11 hitters in those 11.1 innings.  Thompson should likely begin 2018 in Grenville, but Salem is not out of the question.

24. Chad De La Guerra, SS {25}- Portland.  De La Guerra began the year by hitting .294 in a 58 game stint with Salem.  After his recall to Portland, the 24 year old played in another 52 games, and had a solid line of: 4/23/.270/.353/.761 with fifteen doubles at AA.  De La Guerra has been chosen to play in the Arizona Fall League.

25. Hildemaro Requena, RHP {NR}- Greenville.  This 20 year old Venezuelan was signed four years ago as an international free agent.  In 2016 in his first stateside performance, Requena had an ERA of 2.35 for the GCL Red Sox.  Requena appeared in 32 games pitching the entire 2017 season for the Drive.  His line was 3-3/1.98/1.08/84-31.  Very strong numbers across the board.  On September 8th, in the SAL playoffs, Requena hurled 7.1 innings of four hit,  no earned run ball in a Greenville win.

26. Lorenzo Cedrola, OF {24}- Greenville. This speedster had a very strong first try at a full season pro league.  His Greenville line was: 4/34/.285/.322/.709 with nineteen stolen bases.   Unfortunately, Cedrola missed the SAL playoffs, as he finished the year on the DL. Salem should beckon in 2018, when Lorenzo will be only 20 years old.

27. Roldani Baldwin, C {26}- Greenville.  Another member of the Greenville Drive champs.  Roldani was name to the post season South Atlantic League All Star team.  This product of the Dominican Republic hit 14/66/274/.310/.800 with 35 doubles while being the regular catcher for the title team.

28. Austin Maddox, RHP {32}-Boston.  This bullpen specialist has returned to our top 30 based his recent production in Boston.  Maddox was recalled back to Boston on September 1st, when the rosters expanded.  John Farrell has called on the big righty more and more  as September winds along. Maddox has responded in September with this line in ten appearances: 0-0/0.00/0.81/10-1 in 12.1 innings. If Maddox continues pitching this way, he has a real chance to sneak onto the post season roster.

29. Hector Velazquez, RHP {28}- Boston. Velazquez was also called back to Boston as a September call up.  For the year, the Mexican righty has pitched 18.2 innings for Boston as a stater and reliever and has won one game.  His role in September will be long man out of the pen.

30. Dedgar Jimenez, LHP {29}-Portland.  This big ( 6'3"230) lefty from Venezuela elicits mixed reviews about how much of a prospect he is.  But there is no doubt that in 2017, Jimenez put up strong numbers at both Salem and Portland.  First in Salem 10-3/3.07/1.20/93-23.  After his promotion to AA Dedgar responded with 5-0/2.91/1.36/25-18.  Jimenez will turn 22 next March and likely will begin 2018 once more at Hadlock.

Finally here another dozen names to keep in mind going forward:

Zach Schellenger
Bobby Poyner
Aneury Tavarez
Trey Ball
Ben Taylor
Ty Buttrey
Chandler Shepherd
Joan Martinez
Josh Tobias
Tyler Hill
Tate Matheny
Justin Haley

Sometime this winter we will be back to reconsider the rankings, and perhaps to see which names on this list have been traded away. Go Sox.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

RSM Red SoxTop 30 Prospects- August 2017

This is the last in-season ranking of the Red Sox system for 2017.  The next rankings will come out right after the Labor Day end of the minor league season.

Before we begin we will say goodbye to five members of the our previous rankings, two from last month: Shaun Anderson (15) and Jamie Callahan (23) along with previously mentioned players: Steven Nogosek, Luis Ysla, and Gerson Bautista. Callahan, Nogosek, and Bautista were traded to the Mets for reliever Addison Reed. Anderson headlined a pair of minor leaguers sent to the Giants for Eduardo Nunez.  Ysla was sold to the Dodgers to clear a space on the 40 man roster.  One other alumni note concerns Tommy John surgery.  Two former highly ranked members on these lists underwent Tommy John in July: Anderson Espinoza, and the recently traded first baseman Nick Longhi. Best wishes to both of them.

As always the slash line used for hitters is: HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS and for the pitchers the line used is: W-L/ERA/K-BB/WHIP.  The team listed after the player's name is their team as of August 1.

Here is the top 30 for August.

1. Rafael Devers, 3B- Boston {1}. The answer of when Devers would finally be promoted to AAA turned out to be July 14,  after his appearance in the Futures All Star Game. Devers made his Paw Sox debut on July 16 and he announced his presence with authority.  Rafael went 4 for 4 with a home run and a double.  His promotion to Pawtucket was long anticipated and expected.  The fact that his Rhode Island stay would last only nine games was not. After smacking two AAA homers while hitting .400 with an OBP of .447 in his nine games Devers was recalled to the parent Red Sox.  Devers joined the Sox in Seattle, and after sitting for one game to catch his breath, Devers made his MLB debut the next night.  On July 25 Devers his first major league home run to center field at Safeco Field, and has not left the lineup or stopped hitting since.  Through early August, Devers is putting up one of the best MLB debuts ever for a 20 year old.  If Devers continues to play third and hit like a ten year big league veteran, the Sox chances of returning to the World Series are very much improved.

2. Jay Groome, LHP- Greenville {2}. After making three starts for Lowell, Groome returned to Greenville.  Groome had made his initial start of the year for the Drive back in April, when he injured his lat and gave up a boat load of runs. Groome, whose Lowell ERA was 1.64, has an awful looking 7.24 ERA for Greenville.  This is skewed by that opening start and three poor consecutive starts in early July. Jay has pitched much better in his latest mound trips.  Groome also must have been rocked by off the field issues, as his father, also named Jason Groome, was arrested along with two other New Jersey men on drug and weapons charges, including intent to distribute in July.

3. Michael Chavis, 3B- Portland {5} Chavis spent his first full month at AA, and the with promotions of Rafael Devers, Michael now has third base to himself for the Sea Dogs.  Chavis has continued the crush the ball in Portland as he did in Salem.  Chavis is currently second in all of minor league baseball in home runs and his July line was: 9/23/.298/.352/.924 with nine doubles.  With Devers manning third base ahead of Chavis, his future position may be in question, at only 5'10" he may be too short for first base.  But if Chavis continues to collect home runs by the bushel, this former first round draft pick will find a big league home in the future.

4. Sam Travis, 1B - Pawtucket {4}. Travis has shown he can hit major league pitching in his 43 at bats with Boston during two stints this season.  Travis has hit.279 with an OBP of .380 for Boston. But his time in Boston has been a double edge sword, because he has missed playing time due to it.  Going forward in 2017, Travis can cement what seems to be a real opportunity to be the first baseman for the 2018 Red Sox.

5. Daniel Flores, C  - unassigned {3}.  The plan for this top international 2017 signee is to work out this year with an assignment next year looming for the Dominican Summer League Sox team.

6. Bryan Mata, RHP- Greenville {7}.  This 18 year old continues to shine in the South Atlantic League versus players two and three years older than he. Although Mata had a rough start or two in July, he bounced back with a strong performance and is 3-4/3.29/51-14/1.17 in eleven games for the season.  Mata is likely to battle with Drive teammate Jay Groome for the crown of best Sox pitching prospect.

7. Josh Ockimey, 1B - Portland {6}.  After faltering in June, Ockimey recovered somewhat in July going 4/12/.253/.342/.787.  This left Josh at 63 RBI for the year, third in the system after Chavis and Bryce Brentz. Ockimey' OBP for the year through July was .388.  On August 1, in a move by Boston to seemingly challenge the 21 year old, Ockimey was promoted to Portland.

8. Bobby Dalbec, 3B- Greenville {9}. Dalbec was able to return from hamate bone surgery and rejoin the Drive. Through July, in his injury plagued campaign, Dalbec was 6/23/.232/.324/.680. Bobby could use a strong August to set him up for 2018.

9. Jalen Beeks, LHP- Pawtucket {13}. The University of Arkansas product continues to rack up one of the best 2017 seasons in the Sox system.  At AAA, Beeks is 4-4/2.89/58-18/1.12 in ten starts since his recall from Portland. His combined AA/AAA line for the year: 9-5/2.56/116-40/1.14 in 19 games.  Beeks certainly could be in line for a September call to Boston.

10. Tanner Houck, RHP- Lowell {10}. This year's top draft pick made his pro debut in July for Lowell.  As usual the Red Sox baby the pitchers right out of the draft, and in four starts, Houck has pitched only 7 2/3 innings. Houck has been effective with a WHIP of 0.91.

11. Cole Brannen, OF- GCL Red Sox {11}. Unlike the hurlers, the positional players drafted by Boston get right into the action at either Lowell or the GCL. Brannen has appeared in 21 games, compiling 68 at bats through July for the Gulf Coast League Sox. The speedy fly chaser has stolen five bases in six tries and has a line of 0/5/.294/..461/.755. The lofty OBP is especially eye catching.

12. Brian Johnson, LHP- Pawtucket {8} Injuries have given Johnson a chance to pitch in five games for Boston this year and he has delivered a line of 2-0/4.33/21-8/1.48.  Unfortunately his own injuries have cost him other big league chances.  At AAA, in his first post All Star game start, Johnson went seven innings and allowed no runs on three hits.

13. Mike Shawaryn, RHP- Salem {17}. Shawaryn continued to pitch well in July at Salem, in particular in the strikeout category.  His 137 strikeouts lead the system, fifteen ahead of Jaleen Beeks.  With the trades of Shaun Anderson and Steven Nogosek, Shawaryn is the last of the three college pitchers drafted in the first six rounds of last year's draft.

14. Alex Scherff, RHP - GCL Red Sox{14} The highly regarded Texas high school righty taken in this year's fifth round has yet to make his pro debut.

15. Danny Diaz, 3B  unassigned {12}. As with Daniel Flores, Diaz is expected to debut next year withe DSL Red Sox team.

16. Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP - Greenville {21}. The 2013 international free agent signee continues to have a good 2017.  After a brief DL stint, Hernandez made five starts in July gathering 25 K's to only ten walks.

17. Roniel Raudes, RHP- Salem {19}. Roniel took a step forward in July improving his early season numbers at Salem: 2-3/2.70/24-14/1.35 in six starts. A strong August could set up Raudes' AA debut in 2018 at age 20.

18. CJ Chatham, SS- Greenville {18}. CJ finally got off the DL and resumed his season at Greenville. As of the end of July Chatham had 19 at bats for the Drive and was hitting.316 with a home run.  On July 17, Chatham also hit a home run in a rehab start with the  GCL Red Sox. As a middle infielder with some pop in his bat, last year's second round draftee is still held in high esteem by Boston.

19. Travis Lakins, RHP- Portland {16}.  For the second year in a row, Lakins' season has been cut short by injury.  And it is the same injury again this year.  Lakins was placed on the DL by the Sea Dogs on July 4th, and he was diagnosed with a stress fracture or his right (pitching) elbow.  If this becomes a chronic condition, Lakins' career could be hampered or in jeopardy going forward.

20. Tzu-wei Lin, INF- Pawtucket {20}. Lin, along with Deven Marrero, give Boston a real boost at third base after his recall from Portland. Lin hit .280 with an OBP of .379 in fifty MLB at bats. If Lin who had not hit as a pro until this year, can maintain any type of offensive contributions to a lineup, he can be a very effective big league utility player at minimum. Lin has become one of the few players who made his major league debut before his AAA maiden voyage.

21. Aneury Tavarez, OF- Pawtucket {28}. Tavarez is trying to duplicate what Lin did.  That is overcoming years of not being considered a top prospect, but forcing his way to the show.  Tavarez nearly made the Orioles this spring as a Rule 5 draftee, but was returned to Boston.  In July for Pawtucket, Aneury hit 2/10/.281/.317/.733.  Unfortunately for Tavarez, Boston is an unlikely destination for a minor league outfielder trying to break in.

22. Brett Netzer, 2B - Lowell {38}. Netzer was Boston's third round draft pick this past June from UNC-Charlotte. The lefty hitter is considered a bat better than glove second baseman, but is adequate in the field.  In 22 games for Lowell Netzer hit 0/14/.317/.376/.767 with a half dozen doubles.  On August 2nd, Netzer was promoted to Greenville.

23. Danny Mars, OF - Portland {29}. The highlight of Mars' July was appearing in the Eastern League All Star Game played in Manchester.  Mars also had a solid July for the Sea Dogs compiling a line of 3/15/.274/.328/.724.  If Danny keeps it up someone will name a candy bar after him.

24. Lorenzo Cedrola, OF - Greenville {30}. The speedy nineteen year old outfielder from Venezuela continues to have a strong year in his first full season campaign. His batting average in July of .287 matches his year to date average.  Cedrola has 18 doubles on the year along with 17 stolen bases.

25. Chad De La Guerra, SS- Portland {42}.  De La Guerra's performance in AA with the Sea Dogs has cemented his standing as one of the out of the blue prospects for 2017.  Chad was drafted by Boston in 2015 in the 17th round from Grand Canyon College.  De La Guerra played for Lowell in 2015 and Grenville in 2016 hitting .265 and .250 respectively. For the two seasons his combined home run total was three. But De La Guerra began 2017 at Salem hitting .294 with five homers, sixteen doubles, and three triples. Chad was promoted to AA along with Michael Chavis in late June, and he continued hitting. In July for Portland his line is 3/11/.308/.386/.861.

26. Roldani Baldwin, C - Greenville {NR}. Baldwin is another player to blossom in 2017.  Roldani was signed in November 2013 from the Dominican Republic as a catcher.  He moved to third base in his early Red Sox system career, but now is back as a full time catcher. The right handed hitting catcher has hit 12/54/.297/.365/.856 through July.

27. Jake Thompson, RHP - Lowell {NR}. The last of higher Red Sox draft picks from 2017 to sign after pitching in the College World Series.  The fourth rounder from Oregon State throws around 92-96 with a good slider.  His signing bonus was a reported $350,000.

28. Hector Velaquez, RHP- Pawtucket {40}.  Velaquez is another AAA pitcher who, like Brian Johnson, has helped the parent club when called upon.  After an abysmal first big league start in Oakland, Hector has been effective, in four big league games (including the debut) his line is 2-1/4.08/12-4/1.19 pitching mostly from the bullpen.

29. Dedgar Jimenez, LHP- Portland {NR}. Jimenez was signed in July 2012 from Venezuela. Dedgar had a nondescript career since,  pitching only nine games above Greenville before 2017. And in those nine games last year at Salem his ERA was 6.35.  But upon returning to Salem at age 21, Jimenez had a sparkling season of 10-3/3.07/93-23/1.20 in 18 games.  In late July Jimenez was promoted to Portland, where he won two more games.  Going forward, Jimenez needs to show 2017 was not a flash in the pan, but at age 21 things have clicked for him.

30. Trey Ball, LHP- Portland {33}. The heralded former number seven overall pick continues to teeter on the precipice of having a chance at the big leagues or not.  His first AA season has been more of the same sometimes flashing brilliance, more often not and finishing July with an ERA of 6.11 for the season.

Here are our monthly "another dozen names to consider":

* Kyle Martin
* Austin Maddox
* Ben Taylor
* Chandler Shepherd
* Ty Buttrey

These five are the "bullpen guys". The highlight of the month from this group was Kyle Martin making his major league debut and getting two strikeouts in two games. Martin joins Maddox and Taylor as guys who have appeared for Boston this year.

All of these relievers have appeared in our top 30 rankings this year.  RSM made a re-evaluation of the value of a prospect whose future role seems to be at best big league middle inning reliever.  There is no question there is value.  Any team would love to have a strong bullpen from top to bottom.  But when you consider the ceiling of a positional player or future starting pitcher, there is more value there.  This is not to say a bullpen performer will never again grace our top 30, but for now this feels like the right place for these five.

On with the "dozen":

* Justin Haley- returned in July from the Twins as a rule 5 draftee from last winter.
* Bryce Brentz- the winner of the AAA Home Run Derby has 22 HR's through July for Paw Sox
* Tate Matheny
* Tyler Hill
* Josh Tobias
* Zach Schellenger
* Teddy Stankiewicz

This is the state of the Red Sox farm seen through the eyes of RSM with a month or so to go in the minor league year. We'll be back right after Labor Day to rank the stars of tomorrow and again during the off season.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

2017 Red Sox on the Fourth of July

As a good Red Sox fan, let's just say you were approached yesterday, the Fourth of July, by another fan who has been completely off the grid since spring training.  Maybe they were stranded on a tiny Pacific island or doing missionary work in the jungles of Africa.  Or perhaps this fan was completely and totally focused on the Celtics through the playoffs, ping pong balls, and the draft, and free agent opening days.  Whatever the reason this fan who has missed the entire 2017 season so far comes up to you and asks " Hey, how are the Red Sox doing so far? and you can very truthfully and factually tell him:

* Rick Porcello is 4-10 with an ERA of 5.01

* David Price did not even pitch until around Memorial Day, and he has had multiple public spats with the Boston media, leading everyone to believe Price is counting the days until he can leave.

* Eduardo Rodriguez is on the DL with a recurrence of his knee injury.

* After five mediocre starts, Stephen Wright will miss all the rest of 2017.

* Big time bullpen acquisition, Tyler Thornburg is injured and will not pitch a single inning in 2017.

* Last year's big time bullpen acquisition, Carson Smith, has not pitched yet in 2017 either.

*Hanley Ramirez either refuses or is too injured to play first base, and as full time DH is hitting .257.

*Dustin Pedroia sustained a knee injury early in the season, and while he is playing, the knee is balky.

* Xander Bogaerts has five home runs as of the Fourth.

* Brock Holt has had only fifteen at bats due ongoing severe vertigo issues.

* Third Base has been a black hole.  Injuries to Pablo Sandoval, Holt, Marco Hernandez ( out for the year),  and Josh Rutledge has led to the third base tandem of Deven Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin.

* Yes I said Deven Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin

* In the outfield rookie Andrew Benintedi has endured 0-23 and 1-26 slumps, Mookie Betts was moved back to leadoff in the batting order to try to jump start his season, and in late May JBJ was under .200.

* After having four All-Star starters last year, the 2017 Sox have no elected All Star starters.

As your friend drops to his knees, grabbing the sides of his head, a low mournful cry begins to escape his lips when you cut him off, offer him a hand, and say

" Oh yeah, also the Red Sox are in first place four games ahead of the AL East pack!""

Baseball is a strange game.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects July 2017

Welcome to this month's rating of the best prospects in the Red Sox system.  There is a new look on the list. Not only has the annual June draft taken place, but the signing of international free agents has also begun as of July 2. Because of how important some of these 16 year old international prospects can be to replenishing the Sox system, we have pushed the date to consider players for this list back from June 30 to July 3. So you will see a number of new players from the draft and the "J2" signees.

The international signing period, now has a hard cap for each team.  But teams are able to trade to acquire more cap money from other teams.  Boston made two deals, one sending a pair of Lowell infielders to St. Louis for around $800,000 and in a bigger move traded Portland first baseman, Nick Longhi to the Reds for a reported $2.75 million dollars. So Longhi exits our list.

Each player is listed with the team they finished the month with ( and there have been promotions within the system as well as new players) and the number in { } is the June ranking. The stat line used are:  hitters: HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS and pitchers: W-L/ERA/K-BB/WHIP.

1. Rafael Devers, 3B- Portland {1}.  The only surprising element to Devers' season is that it still says Portland behind his name.  16/50/.301/.364/.947 with nineteen doubles and a trio of triples.  His June numbers were even better smashing eight home runs while compiling a .326 BA and an OBP of .380. As an example of his power to all fields, Rafael has hit six home runs to left, four to center and six to right field.  Devers has been named to play for the World team in the Futures Game in Miami on July 9.  This will likely set in motion a promotion to AAA soon after the game.

2. Jay Groome, LHP- Lowell {2}.  After suffering a lat injury in his first start for Greenville in April, Groome has returned to the hill.  Groome pitched the season opener for Lowell, and for his third start on June 29, Jay pitched five no-hit, no-run innings.  Groome should be returning to the Greenville Drive before July is over.

3. Daniel Flores, C unassigned {NR}. Flores is the cream of the crop of the new players joining the system. Flores was ranked as either the first or second best player available in this pool of players.  Some scouts called him the best player they have ever seen on the international market. He is a 16 year old switch hitting catcher, with power from both sides of the plate.  But the rave reviews come for the Venezuelan for his defense.  Flores has an off the chart throwing arm, with a pop time clocked at 1.8. seconds.  All of his catching mechanics are considered top shelf.  Some scouts have called Flores the best defensive 16 year old catcher they have ever seen.  One of the comps for Flores is Ivan Rodriguez. Since Daniel is only sixteen, it remains to be seen how he develops.  After officially signing on July 3 for $3.1 million dollars, Flores is likely to be sent to the Dominican Summer League.

4. Sam Travis, 1B- Boston {3}. Travis finished June making his second appearance in Boston. While not receiving regular at bats in the majors, Travis is hitting .310 in 29 at bats with an OBP of .394. Travis has yet to homer in the big leagues, but has hit three doubles.

5. Michael Chavis, 3B- Portland {5}.  Chavis marched through the Carolina League, after a brief DL stint in April: 17/55/.318/.388/1.029 with seventeen doubles.  Chavis capped off his Carolina League experience by being named the MVP of the CL All Star Game, doubling in the only two runs in a 2-0 win. Chavis, on June 23, was promoted to Portland. Michael celebrated the promotion by hitting a home run on the first AA pitch thrown to him. Chavis began his Portland career going 5 for 10 with two home runs and a double.

6. Josh Ockimey, 1B- Salem {4}. July and August will be crucial months for the young first sacker, who was a starter in the Carolina League All Star Game. In 2016, Ockimey pounded South Atlantic League pitching for the first half of the Greenville Drive season.  But Josh tailed off badly for the second half, finishing at .226.  This year again, Ockimey came roaring out of the gates, and took an eighteen game hitting streak into the first days of June.  But then Josh faltered throughout the rest of June: 0/5/.212/.362/.632 with five doubles.  The one bright light in that line being the .362 OBP. Ockimey must show the ability to put up consistent numbers for an entire season.  With the trade of Nick Longhi, there is now an opening ahead of Ockimey in the system, an opportunity that can be seized.  But first Ockimey needs to show his hitting prowess in July and August.

7. Bryan Mata, RHP- Greenville {15}. Mata makes the biggest leap of any of the players who were in the system prior to this month.  Mata, also from Venezuela, signed a modest international free agent contract in January of 2016.  After turning 18 on May 3, Mata continues to shine at Greenville.  His line for the year though June was: 1-0/2.08/25-6/1.04 in five starts. In late June the Drive had Mata skip a start as part of the plan to limit his innings.  The next time Mata took the mound he threw an impressive five inning stint with five K's.

8. Brian Johnson, LHP- Boston {7}.  Johnson has shown he can be effective pitching in the major leagues, now he just has to stay healthy. After first sustaining a minor right calf injury in Pawtucket, Johnson later in June had to leave a start for Boston, while on the verge of his third MLB win, with a left arm injury.  The arm injury also seemed to be relatively minor, and on June 29 Johnson made a rehab start for Lowell. While Johnson has been on the DL, the Red S0x have acquired veteran big league starter, Doug Fister. Also, Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez seems to be nearing a return from his knee injury.  With these developments, when Johnson is activated from the DL, he is certainly ticketed to return to AAA.

9. Bobby Dalbec, 3B- Greenville {6}. Dalbec missed the entire month of June for Greenville, after hamate bone surgery.  On June 29, he was assigned to the GCL Red Sox to begin a rehab. Hopefully, Dalbec will be able to return to action in July and August, where he will attempt to replicate his 2016 performance.

10. Tanner Houck, RHP- Lowell {NR}.  This product of the University of Missouri was the Red Sox first round draft pick, at #24 overall.  Earlier in Houck's college career, he had an outstanding tour with Team USA.  A year  ago, Houck was considered to be a candidate to be taken near the top of the draft.  His junior season at Mizzou was inconsisent, which lead to the drop to 24, where Boston happily scooped him up.  Houck throws from a three quarter type delivery and his fastball sits in the mid 90's.  The development of his secondary pitches will likely determine if Houck is a future MLB starter or bullpen arm. Houck signed for lot money of around $2.6M and has been sent to Lowell. Some have compared Houck's delivery with another former University of Missouri right hander.  A guy by the name of Max Scherzer.  Boston can only hope.

11. Cole Brannen, OF -GCL Red Sox {NR}. Brannen is a left handed hitting, speedy outfielder taken in the second round as a high school draftee from Georgia.  Brannen signed for $1.3 million, which about $400,000 over the slot money for his draft spot.  One name thrown out as a comp for Brannen is a young Grady Sizemore.  Cole made his pro debut on June 29 going 0 for 2.

12. Danny Diaz, 3B- unassigned {NR}. Diaz is the second international player signed this week by Boston, who is considered one the top 10-15 best players in this crop.  Diaz signed as a shortstop but the scouts consensus is his future lies at third base.  Diaz, also from Venezuela, is considered by many to be the best power hitting prospect in the international signee field for this year.

13. Jalen Beeks, LHP- Pawtucket {16}.  Beeks was promoted from Portland to Pawtucket on June 3. At the time of his promotion, Beeks led the Eastern League in strikeouts with 58 in 49 innings pitched.  In five starts in June at AAA, Beeks went:2-3/3.90/29-11/1.20. If Beeks can continue to perform at this level throughout 2017 at AAA,  he would put himself in contention for a big league job for next year.  That may come in Boston or as a trade chip to another MLB club.

14. Alex Scherff, RHP- GCL Red Sox.  Scherff signed on June 23 for $700,000 after Boston plucked him in the fifth round of the draft.  The 6'4" 205 lb. Texas high school righty was considered to be ranked around number 50-60 in the draft.  But Scherff had an apparent strong commitment to Texas A&M.  But the Sox, who had Scherff workout at Fenway before the draft, were confident they could sign him and took him at number 161 overall. Scherff has pitched for three different high schools during his schoolboy career.  One of his mentors is Roger Clemens, whom Scherff has worked with.

15. Shaun Anderson, RHP- Salem {9}. Anderson continues to adjust to the Carolina League after his promotion from Greenville.  His June line for Salem was: 1-0/3.86/9-6/1.22.

16. Travis Lakins, RHP- Portland {8}.  Lakins has struggled more at Portland than he did at Salem before his recall in May.  But just two years after being drafted in the sixth round from Ohio State, Lakins is in the rotation at AA. His ERA for June at Portland was 4.12, while making four starts.

17. Mike Shawaryn, RHP- Salem {10}. The third of the trio of former college righties to tumble down our rankings this month.  Like Anderson and Lakins,  Shawaryn slipped back partially due to an adjustment to a higher level after a promotion.  But mostly the lower ranking has to due with three draftees and two international signees moving in ahead of them.  Shawaryn leads the entire system in strikeouts through June with an even 100.  Only Jalen Beeks with 91 K's is even in shouting distance of Shawaryn.

18. CJ Chatham, SS- Greenville {14}. Chatham missed all of June with the nagging hamstring injury, which has limited him to three at bats all season for the Drive.  Last year's second round pick is hopeful of being able to play soon.

19. Roniel Raudes, RHP- Salem {12}. Raudes is another pitcher who dropped substantially in our rankings, but again the five newcomers ahead of him were a factor.  But Raudes has not had a stellar season so far for Salem: 2-4/5.14/51-23/1.60.  The strikeouts to walks are acceptable, but otherwise Raudes needs to show improvement. But remember Raudes is pitching at the High A level at age 19.  Even if he stayed with Salem for the rest of 2017 and all of 2018, he could still be on target to pitch for the Sea Dogs down the road at age 21.

20. Tzu-Wei Lin, IF- Boston {32}. A continued rash of injuries to infielders caused Boston to reach down to AA and bring Lin to the major leagues from Hadlock Field. Lin has not only reached the majors, he has been playing at second, short, and third.  In his short big league stay so far, Lin has looked completely comfortable in the field and at the plate. A pair of triples and a bunt single to help ignite a rally are among Lin's accomplishments so far.  As some of the other injured players return, can Lin's versatility, defense, and an ability to contribute on offense keep him in the big leagues?

21. Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP- Greenville {18} The lefty hurler only pitched 5 1/3 innings in June due to a DL stint caused by a blister.  On the year Hernandez is: 2-1/3.20/55-27/1.29 in eleven starts.

22. Austin Maddox, RHP- Pawtucket {22}. The former University of Florida closer earned his major debut in June.  Maddox was recalled to Boston on the strength of a 2017 combined line with Portland and Pawtucket of 2-1/2.27/26-13/1.07 with three saves.  While with Boston, Austin pitched in two games without allowing a run and garnered his initial major league strikeout, before being returned to AAA.  As fluid as major league bullpens are these days, Maddox is likely to return to Boston, at least for another cameo, before the year is out.

23. Jamie Callahan, RHP- Pawtucket {17}. Three unheralded minor league relievers stood out in Boston's big league camp and all three made it until the final cut: Ben Taylor, Austin Maddox, and Callahan.  Two of the three have appeared for Boston during 2017, and Callahan is knocking on the door.  His combined numbers at AA and AAA for the year: 4-2/3.52/39-11/1.17 with four saves. How soon Callahan gets his opportunity may depend on when/if Boston acquires another bullpen arm from outside the organization.

24. Ben Taylor, RHP- Pawtucket {13}. Taylor made the big club out of spring training and pitched effectively in spots during April for Boston.  But first Taylor began to ride the Boston-Pawtucket shuttle, then Ben missed nearly all of June with forearm tightness (never a good pitching arm prognosis).

25. Kyle Martin, RHP- Pawtucket {21}. Martin is still on the outside looking in as far as getting a shot with Boston.  Recently Martin came out of the PawSox pen and made an emergency start, as doubleheaders piled up due to rainouts.

26. Chandler Shepherd, RHP- Pawtucket {23}. Shepherd, a 2014 13rd round draft pick from Univ. of Kentucky, has been used mostly in non closing situations for Pawtucket.  Shepherd has averaged two innings per appearance and has yet to have a save.

27. Ty Buttrey, RHP- Pawtucket {26}. Another in the line of right handed relief prospects.  Buttrey was recalled to AAA for the first time in his career at the beginning of June and made his International League debut on June 4.  Buttrey has struggled in his first seven AAA games with an ERA of 10.80, striking out nine versus seven walks.

28. Aneury Tavarez, OF- Pawtucket {20}. Tavarez was on the disabled list for nearly all of June.  His only action was a 28 at bat rehab stint for Lowell in which he hit .179.  Tavarez is now back with Pawtucket.

29. Danny Mars, OF- Portland {36}. Mars makes his first appearance in our top 30 fueled by a red hot June for the Sea Dogs: 1/4/.354/.402/.836 with five doubles.  Mars was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 draft by the Sox. The 23 year old switch hitter is making his AA debut this year after hitting .293 for Salem in 2016.

30. Lorenzo Cedrola, OF- Greenville {27}.  Cedrola was named to the South Atlantic League all star team.  The selection was earned on the basis of his: 2/25/.286/.323/.711 line. Cedrola also has a dozen doubles, three triples and twelve stolen bases.

That is our top 30 with seven different names than June.  Here are another dozen names to watch:

Antoni Flores, SS  Another of this week's international signees, MLB.com's #20 J2 prospect.
Bryce Brentz, OF- Pawtucket      Brentz is on fire closing in on 20 HR-please trade him!
Trey Ball. LHP- Portland             Two months left to salvage his Sox career?
Tyler Hill, OF- Greenville           15 steals for the Drive
Tate Matheny, OF- Salem            Hitting only .245
Josh Tobias, 2B- Portland            Tailed off in June to .242
Yoan Aybar, OF- Lowell              On the rebound back at Lowell
Brett Netzer, 2B- Lowell                  ' 17 3rd round draftee form UNC-Charlotte
Zach Schellenger, RHP- GCL            Sixth round pick from Seton Hall
Hector Velazquez, RHP-Pawtucket    Starter depth for Boston
Jake Cosart, RHP-Portland                Must learn to throw strikes
Chad De La Guerra, SS-Portland      Came to AA with Chavis from Salem

Only two months to go in the minor league campaigns.  We will rank the system again in August.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Red Sox All Star Prospectus 2017

Welcome to our 5th Annual Red Sox All-Star Prospectus. Voting for the Mid-Summer Classic ends on Thursday and this year for the first time the voting was completely done online. The purpose of this post is to project the American League All-Stars as well as looking at the potential for our beloved Sox to make the squad.

34 players will represent each league on July 11th in Miami for the 88th All-Star game. A reminder of the rules, each team must have a representative, the fans elect the starters and final player, player voting and manager Terry Francona will select the rest of the roster consisting of 21 position players and 13 pitchers.

C Salvador Perez, Kansas City
Perez is solidly in-line to start his 4th consecutive All-Star game. No complaints here as the Kansas City backstop is the best all-around catcher in the AL. As for the Sox duo of Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez, while they have each put up solid seasons should not plan to travel to Miami for all-star purposes. Although an argument could be made if Leon and Vazquez were putting up their combined numbers as a single player.

1B Eric Hosmer, Kansas City
Hosmer looks to be set-up to start for the 2nd straight year, although Justin Smoak of the Blue Jays is breathing down his neck and Blue Jay fans have been known to vote early and often. While Hosmer is a fine player, this is probably a spot that will cost a more deserving candidate a roster spot as given his numbers Hosmer would most likely not make the roster otherwise. Our own Mitch Moreland for example could be bumped for Hosmer.

2B Jose Altuve, Houston
Altuve is on his way to a 3rd start in a row as the second-highest vote getter in the AL currently. This is for good reason, as Altuve despite his small stature is the best 2nd baseman in the AL if not all of baseball. Boston’s Dustin Pedroia is having a good season but not an all-star type of season.

3B Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
While Miguel Sano of the Twins currently leads the vote, Ramirez has been making a hard charge and we’ll project that the Indians 3rd baseman will overtake his counterpart from Minnesota. Either player would be a solid choice to start at the hot corner despite different games, Sano with mammoth power and Ramirez a do it all type of player. The Red Sox 3rd Base issues have been well-documented and therefore none of them are all-star worthy.

SS Carlos Correa, Houston
Correa appears to be well on his way to his 1st All-Star game with a sizeable lead of Francisco Lindor of the Indians. Correa is a great choice as one of the many young shortstops in baseball. The Astros SS is also putting up probably the best numbers at his position in the AL. Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox is in contention to make the team however, he is not alone.
LF Mike Trout, Los Angeles
CF George Springer, Houston
RF Aaron Judge, New York
The Yankees Aaron Judge is currently the leading vote getter as he has put together a tremendous season. Trout is on his way to his 5th straight All-Star game start despite being on the DL since the end of May. Trout’s recovery from thumb surgery might lead to a replacement making the roster although Trout is reportedly hopeful of playing on July 11th. Springer, like many other Astros is having a great season. The Red Sox B Boys outfield on Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts all have put together solid seasons however it is unlikely that any of them will be selected although Betts has the best chance.

DH Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay
Like our 3rd Base selection, Dickerson is not currently the top vote getter at his position as Nelson Cruz of the Mariners leads. However, Dickerson like Jose Ramirez has gotten late support for a great 1st half and looks to have enough momentum to overtake Cruz. Hanley Ramirez of the Sox has put up decent numbers but not enough to warrant all-star consideration.

C Gary Sanchez, New York
Alex Avila, Detroit and Brian McCann, Houston
After Perez, Sanchez is the next best catcher in the AL. McCann is another option although the Astros having 3 starters hurt his chances while Avila as a part-time player for the Tigers has had a career resurgence in the 1st half and might be in-line to get selected as Detroit’s only selection.
1B Justin Smoak, Toronto and Jose Abreu, Chicago
Yonder Alonso, Oakland, Mitch Moreland, Boston, and Logan Morrison, Tampa Bay
Smoak might overtake Hosmer as the starter, if not he should still make his 1st all-star team. Abreu meanwhile will make his 2nd all-star team and first since 2014. Alonso has been outstanding for Oakland, which is most likely going to get a lone all-star and our choice will come later. Moreland and Morrison are both putting up fine season and would be worthy choices but are behind too many other candidates.
2B Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore and Starlin Castro, New York
Robinson Cano, Seattle, Brian Dozier, Minnesota, and Tim Beckham, Tampa Bay
Schoop is having a great year for an inconsistent Orioles squad and looks to be their lone representative. Castro is currently on the disabled list for the Yankees but looks to be back in time for the All-Star game. A name not on our list that is putting up a great season for as the Astros super utility man that should get serious consideration simply for his versatility is Marwin Gonzalez could be a possibility as an injury replacement for Castro. Cano, Dozier, and Beckham have all had good seasons but not quite good enough.
3B Miguel Sano, Minnesota and Ryon Healy, Oakland
Mike Moustakas, Kansas City, Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay, and Manny Machado, Baltimore
Sano might end up swapping spot with Jose Ramirez and Healy is our lone Oakland pick, both are putting up fine seasons. Moustakas is putting up great power numbers for a surging Royals team. While Longoria and Machado put themselves in contention based primarily on name alone.
SS Francisco Lindor, Cleveland and Elvis Andrus, Texas
Xander Bogaerts, Boston, Didi Gregorius, New York, and Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles
Lindor like Correa is having a great season and is one of the fine young shortstops in the game. Andrus is having a career year and should be rewarded, possibly as Texas’ lone rep. That leaves Bogaerts and Gregorius on the outside looking in despite having solid seasons. Simmons is not quite at the level of the other names but is having a good year with the bat to go along with his outstanding defense.
OF Avisail Garcia, Chicago and Justin Upton, Detroit
Trey Mancini, Baltimore, Brett Gardner, New York, Michael Brantley, Cleveland, Ben Gamel, Seattle, Cameron Maybin, Los Angeles, Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City, and Mookie Betts, Boston
Garcia is finally having the type of season he has long been projected to have and Upton makes the team as the single Tigers player. Mancini and Gamel are 2 young players having good 1st halves. Gardner and Maybin are also having nice starts to 2017. Brantley has rebounded from injury to put up solid numbers, while Cain and Betts have produced fine seasons although not at their 2016 levels.
DH Nelson Cruz, Seattle
Albert Pujols, Los Angeles
Cruz makes our team as Seattle’s only representative and Pujols is mentioned for his career achievements.

Chris Sale, Boston, Craig Kimbrel, Boston, Roberto Osuna, Toronto, Dellin Betances, New York, Alex Colome, Tampa Bay, Jason Vargas, Kansas City, Corey Kluber, Cleveland, Andrew Miller, Cleveland, Ervin Santana, Minnesota, Brandon Kintzler, Minnesota, Yu Darvish, Texas, Dallas Keuchel, Houston, Lance McCullers, Houston
Marcus Stroman, Toronto, Luis Severino, New York, Chris Archer, Tampa Bay, Michael Fulmer, Detroit, Bud Norris, Los Angeles, Will Harris, Houston, and Chris Devenski, Houston
Pitchers are always a crap shoot based on who is available, the sheer number of pitchers, and whether you want more power armed relievers or starters. Sale and Kimbrel have arguably been the 2 best pitchers in the American League so far. For power armed relievers our roster gives us Betances, Colome, Miller, and Kintzler along with Kimbrel. Vargas has been outstanding for the Royals. Tito takes his guy in Kluber. Santana has been very good for the Twins. Darvish has been solid in his return from injury, while Keuchel and McCullers have been the leaders of the Astros staff. The Houston relievers Harris and Devenski could be solid choices if Francona wants more power arms and Fulmer nearly got our nod as the Tigers lone choice.

So there you have it the RSM 2017 All-Star Prospectus! Enjoy the game on July 11th.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Red Sox Draft Preview

After selecting Andrew Benintendi at number seven and Jay Groome at twelve in the past two drafts, coming off a 2016 AL East title, the Red Sox will pick at number twenty four this year.  The 2017 draft commences on Monday night.  While it is much more difficult to project who Boston will pick with a slot that is much nearer the end of the first round, there are a core of names that have been linked to Boston in various mock drafts.  In addition, there also names of players who are considered to be in the 18-28 range that could be there for the Sox to take.  Here are thirteen names to watch for as Boston waits to make its pick at 24.

Maybe around at 24, but unlikely:

Evan White, 1B-OF  Univ. of Kentucky
Jake Burger, 3B         Missouri State
Logan Warmoth, SS  UNC

Any of these three could pique Boston's interest as solid college bats, and there has been speculated interest in all by Boston.  But in the dozens of mock drafts I have seen none of these three make it to 24. White, a college first baseman considering athletic enough to play centerfield, especially seems to be rising in the mocks. Burger is considered one of the better power hitters in the draft, and Warmoth a good hitting shortstop.

The high school kids:

Bubba Thompson, OF Mobile, Alabama
Nick Allen, SS San Diego
Heliot Ramos, Puerto Rico

Any or all of these players are likely to be there at 24, although none is a lock.  Thompson, who in the most recent Sporting News mock was Boston's pick, is an athletic outfielder committed to Alabama to play baseball.  Of the three, Thompson is the one most often projected to be gone by 24.  Nick Allen is considered the best defensive shortstop in the draft.  His drawback, if it is one, is his size. Allen is listed at 5'8" 160. As with most prospects his size, Allen draws Dustin Pedroia comps.  The team that is linked to Allen the most besides Boston is the Cubs, who pick after the Sox.  Ramos has been mocked in the 30-45 range.  But Jim Callis of MLB.com is reporting this weekend, Ramos is rocketing up the charts.  Ramos, is the younger brother of former Portland Sea Dog, Henry Ramos.

College Arms

Griffin Canning, RHP   UCLA
Nate Pearson, RHP       Central Florida Junior College
Tanner Houck, RHP      Missouri
Alex Lange, RHP          LSU
David Peterson, LHP    Oregon

There is contention within the game, that Boston is looking for a college player either pitcher or bat, to more quickly replenish the Dave Dombrowski depleted system.  Especially since Boston went with high schooler, Jay Groome in 2016's first round.  This may be true or complete hogwash, but if it is true, do not be surprised if one of these five is the pick (assuming the three college bats mentioned above are gone). The four right handed pitchers have all been projected to Boston in various mocks, most often Houck and Pearson.  But the mock drafts have ranged from Canning at 10 to Lange at 35, just recently.

Canning has a new possible red flag with reports of some questionable medicals on his pitching arm. This could make him more likely to drop to 24, but would Boston also pass? Pearson is a big hard thrower who had not been considered a first rounder earlier this year.  But as his stock continues to rise, the latest rumor says Pearson has a pre-draft deal with a team between 21-26. Boston?
Houck, entered the college baseball season considered a late top ten pick. But an up and down season, followed by an unimpressive SEC tourney, likely leaves Houck available into 24 territory.  But he is also mocked often to the Orioles or Jays at 21 and 22.  Lange is another SEC star who should be picked in the 20-35 range. Of the four righties, I think Lange would be the pick only if the others were off the board.

Peterson was mocked to Boston by Baseball America this weekend.  This was a surprise, because even though Peterson was expected to be around at 24 when the college baseball season began, a strong campaign pushed Peterson anywhere from a late top ten to Baltimore at 20 in every mock drafts for weeks.  Common landing spots for Peterson in the mocks was 15 to Houston, and Yankees at 16.  Peterson is 6'6" 240, but is not a hard thrower.  One of his comps is Brian Johnson, a lefty strike thrower.  Peterson, who had a twenty K game this year versus Arizona State, was drafted by the Red Sox out of high school before he opted to go to Oregon.  I am sure the Sox would like another shot.

If This Pair is There, Would the Sox Dare?

Keston Hiura, 2B-  UC-Irvine
Seth Romero, LHP None (Univ. of Houston)

If not for each player's issues, both are considered by most (but not all) observers as sure top ten selections.  The reason Boston may choose to deal with the issues would be the value of taking a top ten pick at 24.  This would be similar to grabbing Jay Groome at 12, when his "maturity" issues pushed him down from the top three.

Hiura is widely considered to be the best pure hitter in the entire draft. But Hiura has two issues pushing him down the draft.  The first is lack of a true position leaving teams to wonder where he'd fit defensively.  Most believe left field rather than his college position of second base. But the real issue is his right arm, never a strong arm to begin with.  Hiura has played at DH for the entire college season because of an elbow injury.  It is widely believed Hiura will need Tommy John surgery, perhaps right away. So would Boston draft the best hitter in the draft knowing he may need to sit out until the beginning of 2019 season, or start playing and need TJ surgery down the road?  Now even with the injury, in many mock drafts, Hiura does not get to 24, because his bat is just that good. Houston at 15 and the Mets at 20 are other reported landing spots. But Jim Callis of MLB.com for one has consistently linked Hiura to Boston.

Romero, has his own set of issues, illustrated by his team listing above.  Romero was the star pitcher for the University of Houston, but ran into more than one disciplinary situation with this coach. Late in the campaign, Romero got into a fight with a teammate and was thrown of the team for good. Again a top ten talent, who many scouts feel could help a big league bullpen this year, could be there at 24 for Boston's plucking. The Red Sox would have to do thorough investigations to be sure Romero could be depended to behave himself as a pro. The question asked in the industry is does Romero have "maturity" issues or something more?  Keith Law of ESPN, for one, when asked this question in one of his chats, thought it was more than maturity issues.  Law, in fact, also stated he did not feel Romero stuff was all that good, either.  I think Law would be in the minority as far as the stuff assessment, but the plus pitching ability would be the only reason to take Romero.

Here is my best guess for who the Sox want and can get at 24 in order of preference (again I am going to assume White, Burger, and Warmoth are gone...if not it is one of them):

1. David Peterson
2. Keston Hiura
3. Nick Allen
4. Nate Pearson
5. Griffin Canning
6. Tanner Houck
7. Bubba Thompson
8. Seth Romero
9. Alex Lange
10. Heliot Ramos

If you want to hold me to a one player guess I will go with Keston Hiura.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

RSM Top 30 Red Sox Prospects- June 2017

Another month has passed and another ranking of the Red Sox system is here.  Three members of the organization have spent sufficient time in the big leagues this season to graduate from our consideration.  Two from last month's top 15: Marco Hernandez and Robby Scott, and one player not ranked recently, but whom had spent many months in our rankings over the past few years: Deven Marrero. Besides those three players exiting the list, there also are several players making fairly significant moves up or down the list.

The June rankings are also the last before another draft rolls around, in just over a week.  In addition, the international signing period begins July 2, and the Sox are expected to sign at least two of the top twenty prospects in that pool.

As always, the team listed after the player's name is their team as of May 31. The number in { } is the May ranking.  The slash line for hitters is HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS and the slash line for the hurlers is

Here are the best prospects in the Red Sox system as of June 1st:

1. Rafael Devers, 3B- Portland {1}. Devers began the month of May with a five for five game including two homers and four RBI on May 2nd.  It was the fourth multi home run game as a pro for Devers and his third five hit game.  But later in the month around the 20th-26th, Devers suffered through his first AA slump going 2 for 23 in a six game span. As May closed and June commenced, Devers picked the pace up again. Throughout this mini slump the clamor for Devers to be promoted to Pawtucket or Boston abated.  But, if Rafael shows the ability to adjust and overcome the slow stretch, which he seemingly is doing, a promotion to AAA is probably not to far down the road.  Devers and his line of 8/30/.291/.356/.856 with ten doubles and a triple through May may not stay in Portland by the end of June.

2. Jay Groome, LHP-XST {2}. Last year's first round draftee still has not appeared in an actual game since suffering a lat injury in his first 2017 game at Greenville in early April. But Groome did throw two innings in Florida in an extended spring training intra squad game on May 30.  Everything went well, and Groome reported he felt fine after the outing. Groome is targeted to return to the mound for either Greenville or perhaps a pit stop first in Lowell by mid-June.

3. Sam Travis, 1B-Boston {3}.  After hitting 4/14/.286/.353/.805 with nine doubles for the Paw Sox, Travis was called to Boston and made his MLB debut.  Travis was particularly hot in his last twenty games at AAA hitting three home runs, nine RBI and an average of .338. This included his first five hit game as a pro on May 6.  Travis has continued to show a proclivity to hit in his early big league at bats. Sam smacked seven hits in his first fourteen at bats, including a pair of doubles. A start like that would seemingly earn a rookie regular playing time. But incumbent first sacker Mitch Moreland and DH Hanley Ramirez both have a half dozen home runs, while hitting .276 and .256 respectively.  Boston still has some roster issues to shake out and Sam Travis may be right in the middle of those decisions.

4. Josh Ockimey, 1B- Salem {5}. Ockimey followed up a strong April with nearly an identical May:
4/25/.305/.424/.908 with five doubles.  Josh leads the entire Sox system with 47 RBI, is third in hits with 54, and is tied for fourth in home runs with seven. On May 3rd, Ockimey enjoyed a personal thrill when he clubbed a long three run home run while playing in Wilmington, Delaware.  This game was played in close proximity to his home of Philadelphia.

5. Michael Chavis, 3B- Salem {9}. The 2014 first round pick continued to ravage the Carolina League.  Chavis leads the circuit in batting average (.357), OBP (.435), slugging average (.695) and home runs (12). He leads all of minor league baseball in slugging and OPS.  His twelve home runs also leads the Sox system, four more home runs than the runner ups, Rafael Devers and Bryce Brentz. For the week of May 22-28, Chavis was named the Carolina League Player of the Week for the second time in the young season.  The only glitch in his otherwise red hot season is that he has DH'd a lot and needs for more consistent time in the field at third base. If Chavis can show consistent play in the field, he likely would be in line for a promotion to Portland to replace Devers whenever he moves up.

6. Bobby Dalbec, 3B- Greenville {4} Dalbec was off on to a decent start at Greenville, marred only be a worrisomely high strikeout rate (which reached as high as 37% in early May).  But on May 15, Dalbec was placed on the disabled list with an  wrist inflammation of some type. His line at the time was: 2/12/0264/.358/.716.  But after a couple of weeks on the DL the swelling did not go down. Further testing showed a hamate bone fracture.  Dalbec had late May surgery and is expected to be out until mid to late July.

7. Brian Johnson, LHP- Pawtucket {11}.  Now this is what throwing a complete game shutout at the major league level does for your ranking.  On May 27, Johnson blanked Seattle on five hits in his third big league start. Most impressively Johnson threw 109 pitches, 85 of which were strikes: 78%. But this is not the only reason for Johnson climbing back up the rankings.  His entire season at AAA has been exceptional: 2-0/2.82/37-17/1.34 in seven starts ( Johnson is also 2-0 with an ERA of 2.57 in two starts for Boston). In none of his AAA starts has Johnson allowed over three earned runs. Before Johnson had an arm injury in 2015 (right as he was making his MLB debut) and took a sabbatical in 2016 for anxiety issues, his reputation was a solid starter who pounded the strike zone at a very high rate, despite not having overpowering stuff. In other words, a pitching style exactly like Johnson exhibited versus the Mariners. Johnson was returned to AAA after his shutout, but he is the "sixth starter" for Boston going forward.

8. Travis Lakins, RHP- Portland {10}. Lakins dominated in his second season at Salem. His line versus the Carolina League in 2017 was 5-0/2061/43-13/1.18.  In mid May Lakins was promoted to Portland, after taking a no hitter into the sixth inning in his last Salem start on May 9th.  Lakins made his AA debut on May 18, and it not go well going only 1.2 innings and allowing five runs on five hits. His second start for the Sea Dogs also was a struggle, but start number three was much improved. The early Portland experience can be chalked up to the adjustments needed to be made after a promotion. Class AA especially is considered the biggest step up the ladder. Lakins' results for the Dogs for the rest of 2017 will be interesting to follow.

9. Shaun Anderson, RHP- Salem {7}. Another pitcher promoted during May, Anderson moved up from the Greenville Drive to Salem to replace Travis Lakins.  Before the May 16th promotion Anderson had made seven starts for the Drive: 3-0/2.56/37-11/1.06.  Anderson's step up also had a slow beginning.  His first three Salem starts: 0-1/5.29/5-5/2.14.  Another example of the climb to the big leagues being a process, a step by step process in most cases.

10. Mike Shawaryn, RHP- Greenville {16}.  Another 2016 draftee joining our top ten, along with Groome, Dalbec, and Anderson. Shawaryn should be another Sox right handed starting pitcher to be promoted any day now. Shawaryn has been more and more dominant at Greenville.  On May 6th he established a franchise record with twelve strikeouts.  In that game Shawaryn only walked one hitter, and that is his outstanding stat through May.  Shawaryn had 78 strikeouts with only 13 walks, a ratio of 6 to 1. In addition the 78 K's lead the entire Red Sox minor league system, twenty more than the anyone else ( Jaleen Beeks and Henry Owens have 58 each).

11. Nick Longhi, 1B-Portland {12}.  After a shaky April where Longhi compiled a paltry batting line of 2/4/.182/.194/.482 with just one double, Longhi sprang to life in May. Longhi hit well for the entirety of May: 1/14/.290/.353/.729 with five doubles. As the Maine weather warms up ( it will get warmer with less rain, right???) the question is can Longhi hit more home runs?  This is one thing he needs to add to his resume.

12. Roniel Raudes, RHP- Salem {8}. The teenager from Nicaragua slips down our list four spots. This decline is a combination of his own season: 1-2/4.93/38-15/1.50 in nine starts and being passed by the stronger showings of Johnson, Lakins, and Shawaryn. The strong K to walk ratio shows Raudes still has the makings of a promising pitcher.  Also not to be forgotten is Raudes will not turn 20 until next January, and even if he spent all of this year and part of next at Salem he would reach the Eastern League at a very tender age.  On May 28 Raudes went onto the DL.

13. Ben Taylor, RHP- Pawtucket {14}. Taylor has continued to be one of the relievers who have ridden the Boston-Pawtucket shuttle.  Taylor has gotten into eleven games for Boston, the numbers are not great: 0-1/6.59/14-9/1.90 with one save.  In late May Taylor went onto the DL at Pawtucket.

14. CJ Chatham, SS-XST {15}. Chatham had injured a hamstring late in spring training and rehabbed in Florida until finally making his Greenville debut on May 24.  The good news is CJ went one for three and drove in two runs.  The bad news is Chatham re-injured the same hamstring and went back on the DL after the one game.

15. Bryan Mata, RHP- Greenville {25}. For those lamenting the loss of Anderson Espinoza, please meet Bryan Mata. The Venezuelan righty impressed in his pro debut in 2016 for the Red Sox team in Dominican Summer League. Mata had been in extended spring training awaiting a June assignment to either the Gulf Coast Sox or Lowell. But Mata was so impressive in the Florida camp, that just days after his 18th birthday on May 3, he was sent to the Drive in the South Atlantic League.  Mata's first two starts totaling nine innings lead to this line: 1-0/2.00/10-4/1.22.  The Sox will limit his innings, as they have with other 18 year old pitchers at Greenville.

16. Jaleen Beeks, LHP- Portland {18} This lefty product of the University of Arkansas continues to outperform his expected levels.  Beeks entered the system in 2014 as a 12th round draft pick.  Two years later Beeks reached Hadlock Field.  His 2016 Portland numbers were only 5-4 with an ERA of 4.68 in thirteen starts.  However through May this year's line is:5-1/2.19/58-22/1.16 in nine starts. Beeks also compiled a 25 inning scoreless streak. Beeks could well be in line for a promotion to Pawtucket by late June to early July.

17. Jamie Callahan, RHP- Pawtucket {17}. Another pitcher promoted since our last rankings.  This time a relief pitcher, who had shone at AA. The outstanding number for Callahan for the Sea Dogs was twenty K's and no walks.  Callahan also had four wins and two saves at AA.  Callahan has also had a bit of an adjustment since reaching Rhode Island: 0-0/5.40/8-5/1.05 with a save.

18. Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP- Greenville {24} This lefty continued performing in May as he had in April. His YTD line: 2-1/2.72/51-22/1.18 in nine starts in his South Atlantic League debut. Darwinzon went on the DL on May 24.

19. Stephen Nogosek, RHP- Greenville {27}.  Nogosek, another 2016 draftee, has racked up ten saves with an ERA of 2.30 for the season.  He also has 37 K's in 27.1 innings pitched.  A promotion to Salem is expected to be imminent.

20. Aneury Tavarez, OF- Pawtucket {21}. After a red hot start in Portland, hitting .377 with an OBP of .473, Tavarez was promoted to Pawtucket where after hitting a pair of doubles in his first two games, he has been dogged by injury.  Tavarez was activated from his first DL stint on May 19, but five days later went back on the DL with recurrent right hand tendonitis.

21. Kyle Martin, RHP- Pawtucket {29}.  Martin showed a resurgence with a strong May.   In May appearances, Martin's line was 0-1/0.79/10-2/0.88. A continuance of that effort could place Martin on the Pawtucket-Boston bullpen shuttle.

22. Austin Maddox, RHP-Pawtucket {33} Another relief specialist with a strong May, which included a promotion to AAA. 1-0/1.17/7-5/1.17 for the Paw Sox.

23. Chandler Shepherd, RHP- Pawtucket {23}. Shepherd has maintained his spot in the bullpen prospects pecking order. His ERA for the year is 4.91 with 27 K's to ten walks.  With so many pitchers of similar resumes, this leads to another story line to follow in June.  As mentioned at the top the Sox expect to be active in signing international players beginning July 2.  There is now a cap of money allowed to be spent on this.  But teams can traded some of their money ( or slots) for players.  Boston was banned from signing anyone last year, as a penalty for the overpaying of some players by paying for groups of players through a single agent. So it is expected Boston will go big this year and that may entail needing to trade for other teams slots.  Coincidentally, Boston is expected to have a huge forty man roster crunch next winter.  To solve both issues, Boston could trade one or several of the players needing to be on the 40 man roster next winter. These players include:

Noe Ramirez
Kyle Martin
Luis Ysla
Ben Taylor

These four are all ready on the 40 man but could come off to create room for:

Jalen Beeks
Jamie Callahan
Ty Buttrey
Austin Maddox
Jake Cosart
Chandler Shepherd
Williams Jerez
Teddy Stankiewicz
Trey Ball
Darwinzon Hernandez

Do not be surprised if a few of these pitchers, nearly all who appear on our rankings are dealt.

24. Jake Cosart, RHP- Portland {19}. Cosart continues to struggle with command still with more walks (24) on the year than strikeouts (18).

25. Tate Matheny, OF- Salem {22}. The line off hitter for the Salem Red Sox struggled in May at the plate: 0/8/.200/.294.557, with four doubles and a triple. Matheny did steal eight bags in nine tries.

26. Ty Buttrey, RHP- Portland {40}/ Ty has rocketed back into prospect consideration after his full time conversion to the bullpen in Portland.  1-2/3.28/37-10/1.30 with two saves in fifteen games. Buttrey is striking out around 40% of the batters he has faced as opposed to 14% in 2016.

27. Lorenzo Cedrola, OF- Greenville {30}. This speedster continues to produce at the plate for the Drive as well: 2/20/.299/.335/.762 with nine doubles and three triples. In May Cedrola hit .322.

28. Tyler Hill , OF- Greenville [37}. A newcomer to our top 30.  Hill was drafted in the 19th round of the 2014 draft from his high school in Wilmington, Delaware.  Hill has played since in the Gulf Coast League and Lowell until 2017. Hill hit especially well in May: 1/18/.301/.398/.828.  Hill also for the year has stolen 18 bases in 22 attempts.  No one else in the system has more than a dozen thefts.

29. Josh Tobias, 2B- Portland [38}.  The player Boston received from the Phillies for Clay Buchholz also enters our top 30. Tobias, not considered a top prospect at the time of the trade, has nevertheless hit well in his Red Sox system debut.  After beginning 2017 by hitting .345 in 87 at bats for Salem, Tobias was promoted to Portland on May 1st.  Tobias has hit a solid .276 for the Sea Dogs. At only 24 years old, Tobias still has ample time to carve out a big league career.

30. Trey Ball, LHP- Portland {20}. Finally reaching AA in 2017, the Eastern League was considered a test for the first round draftee from 2013.  After compiling a career 4.45 ERA in his minor league sojourn, Ball needed to show improvement.  He has not to this point.  Ball has had a tendency to have one or two bad innings derail what seems to be a good start. The total of his seasonal numbers are bleak: 1-5/5.77/41-19/1.59 in eight starts.  Ball will turn 23 on June 27, the time for Boston to give up on Ball is not near.  But as mentioned above Ball would need to go on the 40 man roster this winter and without a major turn around for the Sea Dogs, that is unlikely to happen.

We will finish as usual with another dozen names knocking on the door of the top 30:

Teddy Stankiewicz
Tzu-Wei Lin
Gerson Bautista
Trenton Kemp
Luis Ysla
Danny Mars
Kyri Washington
Austin Rei
Austin Glorius
Yoan Aybar
Yankory Pimental
Christopher Acosta

We will back a month from now post-draft for another set of rankings.