Top 10 Prospects (2017): Boston Red Sox: Is Rafael Devers On The Verge Of A Breakout & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We all know that the Red Sox have one of the best farm systems in baseball, even after trading away some bigger names, with a few of the elite names arriving last season (though maintaining eligibility).  That said, even among the big names there are questions about how the talent will translate to the field.  Let’s take a look at how things stack up, and which names we need to know about.

 

1) Yoan Moncada – Second Baseman
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – A

His MLB debut was a significant disappointment and may have fully exposed the warts to his game, as he struck out 12 times in 19 AB.  As he was hitting home runs (15) and stealing bases (45) in the minors it was an easy thing to overlook, but it is important to note that it was extremely prevalent there as well:

  • High-A – 21.1%
  • Double-A – 30.9%

He also showed the ability to draw a walk (15.8% and 13.0%, respectively), and at his age there’s hope that he can make the necessary adjustments but it’s going to take him time.  He’s clearly transitioning into more of a power hitter and suddenly shows the potential to be a consistent 20/35 type player (with the upside of even more).  He just needs to learn how to hit for power while also limiting the strikeouts.  If he can do that, you are looking at one of the truly elite players in the game.

 

2) Andrew Benintendi – Outfielder
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – A-

Had it not been for injury he would’ve already graduated off this list.  That said it doesn’t mean he should be overlooked, after delivering 8 HR and 8 SB, courtesy of an impressive 11.4% strikeout rate, while playing at Double-A.  During his time in the Majors he showed his line drive approach (25.0%) while also showing an impressive eye considering his lack of professional experience:

  • SwStr% – 7.4%
  • O-Swing% – 25.2%

The 2015 first round pick is going to open the season as a starter for Boston and should deliver both power and speed.

 

3) Rafael Devers – Third Baseman
ETA – 2018
Grade – A-/B+

We’ve heard about the power potential that he possesses, and in the second half of the season he started to show it in games as he not only hit 7 HR, but added 24 doubles and 6 triples over 267 AB.  If you simply doubled that for a full season, you’d have 74 extra base hits and as he gains strength and experience it’s easy to imagine some of those doubles and triples turning into home runs.

He has also showed a tremendous approach at the plate, with a 17.2% strikeout rate at High-A this past season.  The fact that he didn’t lose that (51 K over 267 AB) as the power emerged is an even more promising sign.

Having played the entire season at 19-years old, Devers has the potential to take a significant step forward and emerge as one of the truly elite prospects in 2017.

 

4) Michael Kopech – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2018
Grade – B+

He missed the start of the season after breaking his pitching hand, and the incident (when coupled with last year’s suspension) certainly brings question to his maturity.  It’s certainly fair, though there’s no questioning the actual talent.  Pitching at High-A he racked up 82 K over 52.0 IP this past season and owns one of the biggest fastballs in the minor leagues.  His control is a question (5.02 BB/9), though there are reports that the team is working on his delivery to help him find consistency.  If he can get there, the upside of a true ace is there.  The upcoming season is going to be a telling one, but he has the potential to develop into a Top 10 pitching prospect overall.

 

5) Jason Groome – Left-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2019
Grade – B+

Selected 12th overall this past year, the southpaw didn’t pitch much after being drafted though did manage 10 K over 6.2 IP.  He has the size that team’s look for from starters (6’6”) and at 18-years old he should add some more weight as he matures (220 lbs. already).  He already brings a big fastball and has the potential develop into an absolute steal.  It’s going to take time, but as a lefty he could help form a dominant top of the rotation before too long.

 

The Next Five:

6) Luis Alexander Basabe – Outfielder (Grade – B)
He needs to cut down on his strikeouts (25.7% at Single-A), but he also showed an intriguing blend of power (12 HR) and speed (25 SB).  His twin brother was traded to the Diamondbacks during the season, but most feel that Boston kept the twin with the higher upside.

7) Josh Ockimey – First Baseman (Grade – B-)
There obviously is concern about his strikeout rate (25.9% at Single-A), but he did show a command of the strike zone (17.6% walk rate) and also began to grow into his power (18 HR, as well as 25 doubles and 1 triple).  There’s still work to do, but there’s also plenty of optimism.

8) Mauricio Dubon – Shortstop (Grade – B-)

9) Sam Travis – First Baseman (Grade – C+)

10) Brian Johnson – Left-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)

Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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