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.

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