Wednesday, May 3, 2017

RSM Top 30 Red Sox Prospects - May 2017

With first month of the baseball season in the books we now have some numbers to digest for this crop of Red Sox farmhands.  And with the month of April in the rearview mirror, Andrew Benintendi has now accumulated  enough big league at bats to graduate from prospect status and gracefully exits from our rankings.

The rankings include, after the player's name, the team they are playing for as of May 1.  The number in {  } is April's ranking.  The slash line for hitters is HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS and the line for the pitchers is W-L/ERA/K-BB/WHIP.

In addition to Benintendi's graduation, four other members of April's Top 30 have slid down below number 30.  Therefore we will see five new Top 30 prospects in May.

1. Rafael Devers, 3B- Portland {2}. The new top prospect for the Red Sox began 2016 in Salem with a very slow first half.  Devers' AA debut has been much stronger. Although after a red hot start which had Devers hitting .372 in the first week or so, including an opening day home run, Devers did tail off to a degree.  But Rafael finished April at 2/7/.274/.297/.748 with five doubles to go along with the pair of home runs.  Near the end of April, the Sea Dogs moved Devers into the cleanup spot, and he marked that occasion by homering in that game as well.  With third base in flux in Boston, the fan base clamors to see Devers as soon as possible. And even though in a recent Boston Herald interview, Devers intimated he would like to see Boston before the end of this season, Devers is likely to spend a large part if not all of it in Maine.

2. Jay Groome, LHP- Greenville {3}. The Sox 2016 first round pick had perhaps the worst start to a season imaginable. The much ballyhooed lefty took the mound on April 10 and lasted only 1.1 innings and was charged with nine earned runs on seven hits and three walks. And that is not the bad news.  The last couple of pitches Groome tossed hardly made it up to the plate.  He left the game to have his apparent injury diagnosed.  Here is where the good news (relatively speaking) portion of Groome's debut comes in.  He had not injured his multi-million dollar left arm.  Groome has a lat injury and was placed on the DL.  The Red Sox will be very cautious with Groome, and may be a while before he sees the mound again. Until then the ERA remains at 60.75.

3.Sam Travis, 1B- Pawtucket {4}. After a strong spring training, Travis started slowly for the Paw Sox: 1/1/.233/.313/.647.  Travis' April woes were exacerbated by a collision with catcher Blake Swihart as they tracked a foul pop up. Each missed the next few games.

4. Bobby Dalbec, 3B- Greenville {5}. Like Travis, Dalbec is off to a slower than expected start in the South Atlantic League: 1/7/.244/.340/.670., with four doubles.  The .340 OBP fueled in part by ten base on balls, highlights Dalbec's early season stats.

5. Josh Ockimey, 1B- Salem {7}. Ockimey breaks into the top five of the RSM rankings for the first time sparked by a red hot April: 3/21/.343/.432/1.003 mixing in five doubles and a triple.  The 21 RBI were seven more than any other Red Sox minor league hitter in April. Ockimey was the Carolina League Player of the Week for April 10-16, and through the 21st his batting average was at. 438. Josh also had a strong beginning in 2016 at Greenville, so his challenge this season will be to produce for an entire season.

6. Marco Hernandez, IF- Boston {6}. Hernandez put himself in John Farrell's favor during spring training, and has continued to get regular playing time throughout April.  Injuries to Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt, and most recently, Pablo Sandoval have provided the opportunity for Marco to play.  His numbers for April were: 0/2/.286/.314/.640 with a pair of doubles.  There is a divide among Red Sox nation about Hernandez' future. Is he a big league regular or is he only a 4A player?  At age 24, it seems Hernandez will have enough at bats to help answer those questions.  He is also likely to compile enough MLB at bats to graduate from this list sooner rather than later.

7. Shaun Anderson, RHP- Greenville {17}.  The big righty from the University of Florida jumps up ten spots to become the second highest ranked pitching prospect behind Jay Groome.  Anderson had an outstanding April : 2-0/0.98/24-7/0.90 while making five starts which spanned 27.2 innings.  With Anderson's SEC experience and at age 22, a few more strong starts could lead to a promotion to Salem.

8. Roniel Raudes, RHP- Salem  {9}. The righty from Nicaragua has reached high A ball at age 19.  Raudes still has some adjustments to make: 1-1/5.82/14/8/1.47. As a pitcher who relies on command rather than overpowering stuff, Raudes will need to make those adjustments at each level.

9. Michael Chavis, 3B- Salem {11}. Just a few days into the new season an old problem cropped for Chavis. He went onto the DL, but this time he was back after the 7 day stay, and came back with a bang. On April 19, Chavis crushed three home runs in cavernous Salem Memorial Ballpark.  In the 23 year history of the park no player had accomplished this. Chavis hit two more bombs over the next three games, and the five home runs lead to Chavis being the second consecutive Salem Sox player to be the Carolina League Player of the Week, following Josh Ockimey.  Michael finished April with a line of: 5/13/.341/.463/1.236.  Chavis was drafted out of a Georgia high school back in the first round of 2014 with expected power.  If Chavis' power can blossom, he will rise in the Sox system.

10. Travis Lakins, RHP- Salem {12}. Lakins is another college arm who had an outstanding April. Travis began his second season at Salem with: 4-0/3.08/32-8/1.25 in five starts. The Ohio State product is pounding on the door to Double AA, and if May is a duplicate of April, that door will open.

11. Brian Johnson, LHP- Pawtucket {8} The highlight of April for Johnson was gaining his first big league win. On April 18, Johnson made his second big league start and beat the Blue Jays going five innings in a 9-5 Boston win. Between the one game recall to Boston and leaving another start early when he was hit off the side of his head by a line drive to the mound, Johnson only hurled 15.2 innings in AAA going: 0-0/2.87/17-8/1.60.

12. Nick Longhi, 1B- Portland {10}. One of the challenges for Longhi as reaches AA is to show some power expected from a big league first baseman. Despite hitting .282 for his minor league career through last year, Longhi has only seven home runs in 1067 at bats. Longhi has two home run for all of 2016.  Longhi has hit two long balls in April for Portland. This may mean Longhi will develop his power or it just may be a result of the friendlier dimensions of Hadlock Field.  On the down side for April, Longhi hit only .194.

13. Robby Scott, LHP- Boston {14}. Until the last ranking or two, Robby Scott wasn't listed because he was not really considered a prospect.  Soon he may not be listed with the prospects because he will a bonafide major leaguer. Boston started the season with three lefties in the bullpen and it was widely assumed Scott was third in the pecking order. But not John Farrell's pecking order, Scott for all of April has been the first option as a lefty specialist from the Boston bullpen. And Scott has continued to produce with 2.08 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in nine appearances. Quite a story for the former Independent Leaguer.

14. Ben Taylor, RHP- Boston {15}. Along with Scott the other surprise contributor for the Boston bullpen.  The only difference in their seasons is that Taylor has gone back and forth between Boston and Pawtucket. To illustrate how quickly Taylor has made the big leagues, the Sox drafted him the same year as Andrew Benintendi, 2015. Taylor pitched over seven innings in April for the Red Sox and had an ERA of 1.17.

15. CJ Chatham, SS- XST {13}. A hamstring injury suffered in the latter stages of spring training has kept last year's second round pick in extended spring training.  An assignment to Greenville is expected when CJ is healthy.

16. Mike Shawaryn, RHP- Greenville {18}. If not for a very poor first start of 2017, Shawaryn's numbers may in the same neighborhood as Drive teammate Shaun Anderson.  In his Greenville debut, Shawaryn gave up nine earned runs in only two innings.  In Shawaryn's four subsequent starts, he has pitched very well: 2-1/4.63/32-7/1.20 overall.  Shawaryn's 32 strikeouts ties Travis Lakins for the system lead through April.

17. Jamie Callahan, RHP- Portland. The conversion to the bullpen certainly seems to agree with the 2012 second round draft pick.  The conversion began in 2015 in Greenville.  But in 2015 and for Salem in 2016 Callahan's numbers ranged from pedestrian to mediocre.  But perhaps staying with Boston, as non roster spring training invitee, until the last cut sparked something in Callahan.  His Double AA debut month was outstanding: 3-1/1.00/15-0/0.67 with two saves in seven games.  Not a single walk in April for a pitcher with a history of spotty command.  Still only age 22, Callahan has plenty of time to carve out a big league career.

18. Jaleen Beeks, LHP- Portland {24}. Another pitcher shooting up the rankings on the back of his strong April, in his second Sea Dogs season: 3-1/1.99/26-10/1.06 in four starts. Beeks capped his month on April 30 with a seven inning outing allowing no runs on only three hits. The University of Arkansas product will turn 24 in July, and if/when the Paw Sox need a starter later in '17, Beeks could be positioned to take the spot.

19. Jake Cosart, RHP-Portland {21}. Cosart has a big arm which lights up the radar guns at 97 mph, but the ability to through consistent strikes will determine how quickly Cosart can reach the show.  His debut in AA has shown the same: 1-1/3.18/7-10/2.65.  More walks than strikeouts and more than two and a half hits/walks per inning will not suffice.  But April is just one month of a long season, Cosart has time to harness that big fastball.

20. Trey Ball, LHP- Portland  {16}. The enigmatic lefty did not take the Eastern League by storm in April: 0-1/5.74/15-8/1.60 in three starts for 15.2 innings.  However Trey does not 23 until late June, and the Red Sox will let Ball continue to try to find himself at AA.

21. Aneury Tavarez, OF- Portland {35}. The Orioles may wish they had acceded to the Red Sox trade requests and kept this outfielder, whom Baltimore took last winter in the Rule 5 draft. The O's couldn't find room on their 25 man roster, and by rule have to offer the player back to the team he was drafted from.  But the teams involved can make a deal to allow the player to stay with the drafting team's system. Boston reportedly wanted the Orioles competitive balance draft pick or some international signing bonus money, both of which can be traded. Baltimore declined and returned Tavarez to the Red Sox, who in turn returned Aneury to the Sea Dogs. Tavarez finished 2016 tearing up the Eastern League and if anything Tavarez was even hotter in April. Tavarez finished April with a streak of 29 games of reaching base (dating back to 2016), and from June 1 of last year through April '17 Tavarez hit .377. On May 1st, the Red Sox promoted Tavarez to Pawtucket, where he has a chance to put himself in the big league picture if the Sox should need a corner outfielder for the bench.

22. Tate Matheny, OF- Salem { 25} Despite a brief stint on the DL in Ă…pril, Matheny acquitted himself very nicely in his High A ball debut: 2/5/.339/.422.940 with a pair of doubles and a triple.

23. Chandler Shepherd, RHP [19} One of a plethora of bullpen prospects for Boston, Shepherd compiled a poor ERA of 6.23, but did strikeout fifteen batters with five walks.  As Boston's season winds along Shepherd will be in competition for a recall.

24. Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP- Greenville {39}. Another newcomer to our Top 30.  This lefty is a 20 year old from Venezuela, whom the Red Sox signed in 2013. After spending two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, Hernandz pitched stateside for the first time in 2016 for the Lowell Spinners. In fourteen starts, Hernandez posted an ERA of 4.10 but with 58 K's in 48 innings.  His numbers in April for Greenville were even better: 1-1/2.91/29-11/1.15 in five starts.

25. Bryan Mata, RHP- XST { 33}. Mata was signed by the Sox in January 2016 from Venezuela.  His debut was in the Dominican Sumer League.  Mata will turn 18 on May 3rd, and is expected to pitch for Lowell when their season commences in June.

26. Austin Rei, C- Salem {37}. Rei has yo-yo'd on and off our Top 30 since being the Red Sox second round draft pick in 2015 from the University of Washington. When Rei has been off the list it has been due to his anemic bat. Rei's combined batting average of 2015-16 was .203.  But in April Rei reached Salem for the first time and at least for one month his offensive numbers soared like they had not in previous campaigns: 1/9/.333/.429/1.003 with ten doubles. Now Rei is not a .333 hitter, but if can hit .275 he becomes a much more attractive catching prospect.

27. Stephen Nogosek, RHP- Greenville {32} The Red Sox expended their sixth round pick last June on this reliever from the University of Oregon. Though the Sox have a history of converting college relievers to starters, at least to begin their pro careers. But the Sox have left Nogosek in the pen, with strong results for the Drive: 1-0/2.77/17-3/1.15 with seven saves in nine appearances. Since Nogosek also pitched ten games in 2016 for Greenville, a promotion could come sooner than later.

28. Tzu-Wei Lin, SS- Portland {NR} As we predicted last month, even after presenting fifty names someone would shoot on the list and here he is. Lin is not a newcomer to the Red Sox system, he was signed from Taiwan in June 2012 as a highly regarded international star prospect. But Lin has never hit with a combined batting average of .235 in over 400 minor league games.  Lin first reached Portland in 2015 and played all of 2016 in Maine, hitting .223 with two home runs.  During April Lin's bat awoke for the first time as a pro: 3/5.347/.407/1.020 with two doubles and a triple. Lin finished April with a twelve game hitting streak alive. Lin turned 23 in February, and is a solid defender, so if he can hit at all, a big league career is still a possibility, albeit a slight one.

29. Kyle Martin, RHP- Pawtucket {20}. A poor April: 0-1/9.45/8-3/1.50 in 6.2 innings along with a growing list of other bullpen prospects, has dimmed Martin's status.  Martin is, however, on the Red Sox 40 man roster, so if can right his ship in the months to come, he still could get an audition in the Boston bullpen during 2017.

30. Lorenzo Cedrola, OF- Greenville {30}. The speedster had a solid first month in the South Atlantic League: 0/7/.271/.311/.654/with five doubles and four stolen bases in six tries.

Here are the next dozen names in line, including four who fell off the Top 30 from April.

* Kyri Washington, OF- Salem  spent part of April on DL
* Luis Ysla, LHP- Portland
*Austin Maddox, RHP-Portland-Pawtucket
* Yankory Pimental, RHP- Salem
*Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP- Portland
*Gerson Bautista, RHP- Salem
* Tyler Hill, OF- Greenville
* Austin Glorius, RHP-Salem   on the DL currently
* Josh Tobias, 2B- Portland   recalled May 1 from Salem
*Ty Buttrey, RHP-Portland  1-0/2.79/17-5/1.14 with a save from Portland pen
* Yoan Aybar, OF- Greenville
* Christopher Acosta, RHP-XST  missed all of 2016 under team suspension

As the season winds into May and beyond, we will see which strong April performances can be built upon and which slow starts can be recovered from.

1 comment:

  1. Considering how rich the Red Sox were with prospects two years ago, the cupboard can now be considered almost bare. When there are 6 relief pitchers in the top 30 and another starter or two that probably project as bullpen arms at best, you know that there isn't much in the minor league system.

    Outside or Devers and maybe Groome there don't appear to be any elite prospects left. If Devers ends up being a power hitting corner infielder then he may be a prize, so that can't be discounted. But, it remains to be seen if the cupboard can be restocked by Domborowski, his track record of drafting isn't great. Certainly they have a window of 3-4 years to restock the system because there aren't many openings on the big league team outside of 3B. So the few guys on this list in A ball have time to develop and future draft picks will have plenty of time to develop, but we will see if the front office under Dombrowski is up to that task.

    Boy, Trey Ball has been a bust. Even at his young age he has shown almost no promise, it may be time to make him a lefty reliever out of the pen (probably not yet, but you can see it coming). Before criticizing the Sox (Ben Cherington) for this pick, I saw recently that basically all the players in the top 7 from that year's draft, except for Kris Bryant, have flamed out.