Sunday, June 3, 2018

RSM Top 25 Red Sox Prospects - June 2018 Edition

Since we last ranked the Red Sox farmhands at the beginning of the season, a number of things have happened to the players on that ranking.  Almost all of it has been bad.  A handful of the Red Sox prospects have had a good two months to start 2018, but they have been the exception.  The myriad of issues range from Jay Groome undergoing Tommy John Surgery to Michael Chavis still in the midst of an 80 game suspension to poor performances by both of the 2017 top draftees.  All of this turmoil has caused much shuffling in our rankings, as you will see.  In addition pitchers Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez have graduated from prospect status.

The slash line used for the hitters is HR/RBI/BA/OBP/OPS.

For pitchers the line is W-L/ERA/K-BB/WHIP

The number behind the player in { } is the April ranking, and the team listed is the player's assignment as of June 1.


1. Jalen Beeks, LHP Pawtucket {6}.  A combination of the issues surrounding Groome and Chavis along with Beeks' outstanding AAA season so far, makes the former Razorback the top current Red Sox prospect. A line of 3-3/2.57/80-14/0.98 in ten starts.  His 80 K's lead the International League and the Red Sox system.  Steven Wright is currently the "sixth starter" in Boston with Velazquez and Johnson also in waiting.  But if Beeks continues to dazzle at AAA do not be surprised if he get at least a spot start for Boston soon.

2. Michael Chavis, 1B-3B Portland {2}.  Nothing new on Chavis.  He is still more than a month from his suspension ending and then working himself back into playing shape.  He only hangs on to his second spot on this list due to the possibility Chavis could make an appearance in Boston in late August or September.

3. Mike Shawaryn, RHP Portland {7}. Shawaryn is making his AA debut two years after being drafted and has had a solid Sea Dogs season so far. In ten starts his line is 2-5/3.67/51-14/1.12.  His strikeout rate is lower than 2017 when Shawaryn had one of the top totals in all of minor league baseball, but still a strong K to walk ratio.  Shawaryn could reach Pawtucket before 2018 is out.

4. Josh Ockimey, 1B Portland {9}.  The power hitting Ockimey has had among the best offensive season by any top Red Sox prospect, certainly the best among AA/AAA batters.  Not only has Ockimey hit 7 homers and 26 RBI with a BA of .273, but his OBP is .379 and OPS of .855. In 2017, Ockimey was promoted to Portland on August 1. With another solid month, Josh could be looking at another promotion, this time to AAA.

5. Bryan Mata, RHP Salem {4}.  Mata has had just an okay line 3-2/3.52/23-27/1.66 in eight starts for Salem.  But Mata's numbers (and the 3.52 ERA is pretty good on it's own) need to be looked at through the prism of his age.  Mata turned 19 a month ago on May 3.

6. Bobby Dalbec, 3B Salem {10}. Dalbec is another batter having a strong 2018.  Or is he?  Dalbec is hitting just .213 with a bushel of strikeouts.  But he also has ten home runs, a dozen doubles and has an OBP of .345 through June 1. The ten home runs are all the more impressive because the Salem Sox home park is not a hitters park at all. For example Mookie Betts hit seven home runs while playing in Salem, Rafael Devers hit seven in an entire season and Andrew Benintendi hit one. Dalbec has cut down on his strikeouts of late, so maybe he can be more than an all or nothing home run hitter.  Not that an all or nothing home run hitter cannot make the big leagues these days.

7. Sam Travis, 1B Pawtucket {3}.  For the second year in a row, Travis had a brilliant spring with the big club and then when assigned to AAA, his season fell flat.  Through June 1. Sam is hitting only .220 with an OBP of .290. Travis has hit lefties at a much better clip but has been awful versus right handers.  On June 2 Travis was recalled to Boston due to injuries to Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia. If Travis cannot turn his season around with the cameo in Boston, he will soon hear Josh Ockimey's footsteps coming for the Paw Sox first sacker job.

8. CJ Chatham, SS Salem {13}.  One of the successful seasons so far by a Sox farmhand has pushed CJ into the top ten.  The 2016 second round pick, had basically his entire 2017 wiped out by injury.  Chatham began 2018 in Greenville, where he had been scheduled to begin last year.  A fast start pushed CJ up to Salem.  As of June 1st, Chatham had exactly 75 at bats at both Greenville and Salem.  His Greenville line was: 0/9/.307/.329/.742 with six doubles and a triple.  For Salem CJ has totaled: 2/12/.333/.367/.820 with three two baggers.

9. Tanner Houck, RHP Salem {5}. Last year's first round pick for Boston has struggled mightily in his first full pro season at High A Salem: 2-6/6.04/32-33/1.88.  Bad numbers across the board, as Houck reportedly is having his pitch mix altered from his college two seam fastball to a four seamer. As Houck becomes more accustomed to the new fastball, it will be very interesting to see if his second half of 2018 is better.

10. Jason Groome, LHP Greenville {1}.  The top ranked Sox prospect to begin the season was placed on the DL at the beginning of '18.  Groome had not pitched since spring training when in May it was announced he needed Tommy John Surgery. It was tempting to leave Groome at the top of this list because he is still the player with the highest ceiling on this list.  But with the timing of his TJ operation, Groome is very likely not to pitch in a regular season minor league game until 2020. This being based on a standard recovery time of 12-18 months.

11. Alex Scherff, RHP Greenville {11}.  The Texas high school fireballer began his pro career this year at Greenville and he has struggled: 1-4/5.58/28-18/1.39 in nine games.  But his most recent start was by far his best,  six innings of one run ball.  This continued a marked improvement since April ended.  In roughly 17 innings each month, in April Scherff's ERA was 9.35 and WHIP of 1.90.  But in May (before the last good start) his ERA of 3.71 with a WHIP of 1.00.  With Groome on the shelf, it is possible Scherff may emerge as the best young hurler Boston has.

12. Bobby Poyner, LHP Pawtucket {15}.  Poyner has been riding the Boston-Pawtucket shuttle since opening the season with Boston.  His numbers in the major leagues are actually better, with an ERA of 1.86 in 9 2/3 innings.  On June 2, Poyner was recalled again to Boston.

13. Roneil Raudes, RHP Salem {14}.  At age 20, Raudes is spending his second season in Salem, and he has had a decent season so far: 2-4/3.65/31-18/1.53 in nine starts.  If an opening should arise in Portland rotation, it is likely Raudes would be first in line for the promotion.

14. Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP Salem {8}. A strong 2017 had pushed Hernandez into the preseason top ten.  But his 2018 for Salem has been mediocre: 3-2/4.34/36-26/1.42 in ten games. A stronger remainder of the season could still keep Hermandez on the ascent in the Sox system.

15. Tzu-Wei Lin, Utility Pawtucket {16}.  Lin has split his season between Pawtucket and Boston.  Lin while hitting .188 for Boston in 32 at bats, is having a fine AAA season hitting .271 with an OBP of .340 with three home runs.  Lin's versatility defensively still makes him a candidate to help in Boston again before 2018 is over.

16. Brett Netzer, 2B Salem {24}. The 2017 draftee takes a big step up the rankings with one of the  strong offensive performances of early 2018.  1/23/.287/.342/.710 with nine doubles and a triple.

17. Danny Diaz, 3B DSL Red Sox.  The Dominican Summer League began play in June and in his second pro at bat Diaz hit a home run. The very highly regarded member of the 2017 class of international signees, could move up these rankings rapidly once he gets more DSL games under his belt.

18. Jhonathan Diaz, LHP Salem {NR}. The lefty from Venezuela makes his debut on the RSM rankings.  Diaz signed in July 2013 and has made a slow, steady progression up the Red Sox ladder.  Diaz has made stop at the DSL, GCL, Lowell, Greenville, and now Salem.  The smallish Diaz likely projects as a reliever, and in ten games this season has 58 strikeouts with only 18 walks.

19. Santiago Espinal 2B-SS Salem {NR}. Another first timer for the RSM rankings. Espinal has had another of the outstanding 2018 to date. 6/25/.287/.357/.848with eight doubles and a trio of triples.  Espinal was drafted in 2016 in the tenth round from Miami Dade CC South.  Espinal and /or CJ Chatham could be looking at a promotion to AA by July.

20. Travis Lakins, RHP Portland {25}. The fortunes of Travis Lakins may have taken an upswing near the beginning of June, when the Red Sox organization moved him from the Portland rotation to the Sea Dogs bullpen.  Lakins had been making three inning appearances while starting. Lakins  was being brought back from right elbow stress fractures, which ended both this '16 and '17 campaigns.  Lakins may be groomed as a bullpen "stopper", a multi inning bullpen specialist.  If Lakins takes to this his path to the big leagues could be much shorter.

21. Chandler Shepherd, RHP Pawtucket {NR}. Shepherd made the RSM rankings in previous years as a bullpen artist.  In the past off season the Red Sox converted Shepherd to a starting pitcher in winter ball.  Chandler has continued in Pawtucket's rotation during 2018. The product of the University of Kentucky has a line of 3-4/4.24/45-14/1.39 in nine games The strikeout to walk ratio shows promise for Shepherd as a starter.

22. Ty Buttrey, RHP Pawtucket {NR}. Ty has bounced in and out of the RSM top prospects list since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft.  This season Buttrey has an ERA of 2.86 with 35 strikeouts only 22 innings pitched out of the Paw Sox bullpen.

23. Chad De La Guerra, IF Portland {23}. De La Guerra began 2018 with Pawtucket and failed in his AAA debut, hitting only .137 in 73 at bats. Chad, was sent back to Portland and has dominated the Eastern League: 4/16/.340/.425/.940.

24. Jake Thompson, RHP Salem {19}.  The 2017 fourth rounder from Oregon State has struggled at times with Salem with an ERA of 4.64.  But Thompson has 43 K's against 19 walks. Considering this is Thompson's first full pro season and it is at High A, there is still plenty of promise here.

25. Cole Brannen, OF XST {12}.  The Red Sox assigned their second round pick from last year's draft, from a Florida high school,  to Greenville to begin 2018.  Brannen failed the test and showed he was not ready for the South Atlantic League: 0/7/.157.246/.451.  Brannen was reassigned to the extended spring training camp on May 21, with the expectation he will join the Lowell Spinners when their season begins in mid-June.

Here are a few other names considered for this list:

Cole Sturgeon, OF Pawtucket
Rolandi Baldwin, C Salem
Joan Martinez, RHP Salem
Kutter Crawford, RHP Greenville
Kyle Hart, LHP Portland
Pedro Castellanos, 1B Greenville
Kervin Suarez, 2b Greenville
Tate Matheny, OF Portland
Antoni Flores, SS DSL
Austin Maddox, RHP Pawtucket

One last note which will effect our next rankings.  The MLB draft is June 4.  The conventional wisdom is the Red Sox will look for college players for their early picks ( 26, 64, 100).  Some names to look for on draft night at 26:

Steele Walker, OF Univ. Oklahoma
Seth Beer, 1B-OF-DH Clemson
Ryan Rolison, LHP Ole Miss

and a couple of high school possibilites:

Brice Turang, SS
Triston Casas, OF

Next time expect to see some of the 2018 draftees joining our rankings.


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