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.