Top 10 Prospects (2019): Boston Red Sox: A System In Need Of A Boost…

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by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Red Sox have consistently been battling for World Series titles, and that can put a strain on a farm system.  Instead of developing their prospects they have been used as trade chips to push for the now instead of looking towards the future.  That’s not to say that they’ve traded everyone, but the players that they’ve kept have significant questions hanging over them (or they seem to be miles away from reaching the Majors).  Is there any potential value in the system?  Let’s take a look:

1) Michael Chavis – Third Baseman
Grade – B
ETA – 2019

A year ago the outlook for Chavis would’ve looked a lot different, though an 80-game suspension for PED puts a little bit of a red flag over his head.  This time last year he was coming off a 31 HR campaign, hitting .282 between High-A and Double-A.  Of course he also had swing and miss to his game, and that’s something that continued (SwStr%):

  • 2017 – 15.5%
  • 2018 – 13.3%

Sure there was an “improvement”, but he still carried a 26.8% strikeout rate and there are now questions as to how real the power surge was.  Can he continue to hit for that much power?  Was it fueled by the PED?  It’s something that will hopefully get answered in 2019, though he likely will never be more than a B+ prospect thanks to his strikeout risk.

2) Jay Groome – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B-
ETA – 2021

There is no questioning the upside that Groome brings, though after missing all of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery there is also a lot of uncertainty.  Will he fully recover and be able to regain the strikeout stuff he had previously shown?  Will he be able to discover his control, something that he had been struggling with even prior to the injury (5.08 BB/9 over 44.1 IP at Single-A)?

The stuff was there, but is it still or has the injury impacted him significantly?  We like to think that everyone is going to fully recover from Tommy John surgery, but it simply isn’t a given.  Time will tell, but there’s enough upside to keep him on your radar.

3) Triston Casas – First Baseman/Third Baseman
Grade – B-
ETA – 2022

Selected 26th overall in the 2018 draft, Casas played one game before injuring his thumb and requiring season ending surgery.  In that regard we have very little to go on, though there’s no questioning the power potential of the 6’4” 19-year old.  We’ll have to see if he is able to put that on display, while avoiding significant swing and miss to his game.  That’s going to be key, especially since there’s a good chance his size forces him across the diamond to 1B (or maybe even as a DH).  Can he hit enough to hold down one of those two spots?  The upside is there to do so, but time will tell.

4) Bobby Dalbec – Third Baseman
Grade – B-
ETA – 2020

Dalbec has become a true three outcome player, though the numbers are a little bit scary:

  • Home Runs – 32
  • Strikeouts – 32.4%
  • Walks – 12.2%

A 15.7% SwStr% is a bloated number and the strikeouts ballooned to 37.1% in 124 PA after a promotion to Double-A.  Considering the walk rate also fell (a meager 4.8%) and it’s fair to have concerns.  Power is nice, but does it matter if you aren’t able to make contact?  The strikeout rate could continue to rise as he advances, and that could ultimately make him an unusable option.

5) Darwinzon Hernandez – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – C+
ETA – 2020

Hernandez is a big boy, currently listed at 6’2” and 245 lbs.  While that could lead to some conditioning questions, he’s a southpaw that throws hard and that is going to catch your attention.  He spent the bulk of the time at High-A (101.0 IP) with a cameo at Double-A (6.0 IP), posting a solid 3.53 ERA.  Of course a 1.42 WHIP is going to open some eyes as the skills are at least somewhat questionable:

  • Strikeouts – 11.27 K/9
  • Control – 5.55 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 43.8%

Obviously we’d like to see more strikes being thrown, but a 12.7% SwStr% is impressive.  If he can develop and mature he has the upside to be a solid starter in the Majors.  If not?  The stuff is there to be a lights out reliever with closer upside, so he’s worth monitoring regardless.

The Rest:

6) Antoni Flores – Shortstop (Grade – C+)
Signed out of Venezuela, Flores has shown an ability to put bat to ball despite his age (he just turned 18 in October).  It was only 15 games in ’18, but walking (9) more than he struck out (8) at 17-years old will always be impressive.  There is some speed and the feeling is that he’ll be able to add power as he matures/develops.  There’s plenty of time for growth, both physically and in terms of his development, but it’s easy to argue that he has the highest upside of anyone in the system.  A strong start to the season would lead to a boost in his grade into the B-/B range and he may not be far from being considered the top prospect in a cloudy system.  He belongs on all radars.

7) Tanner Houck – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)
Pitching 119.0 IP at High-A he showed swing and miss stuff (12.5% SwStr%) and an ability to generate groundballs (49.1%).  He does need to improve his control, having posted a 4.54 BB/9, and he also needs to prove that he can get left-handed hitters out (.274 BAA in ’18).  Throw in reports that his delivery could be better coming out of the bullpen and the questions mount.  He’s a former first round pick so the team is going to give him an opportunity to develop, but there’s a good chance he fails and has to settle for a bullpen role.

8) Josh Ockimey – First Baseman (Grade – C)
Ockimey played at Double-A (376 PA) and Triple-A (105 PA), hitting .245 with 20 HR.  He did prove capable of drawing walks (14.6%), though a 14.4% SwStr% obviously looms large (it led to a 31.0% strikeout rate).  So he’s a power hitter who has questions about his ability to play first base?  That’s certainly not ideal, as he could have to settle to be a DH who hits .240 or worse.  That’s going to be a tougher sell.

9) Mike Shawaryn – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
Shawaryn split 2018 between Double-A (112.2 IP) and Triple-A (36.2 IP), showing swing and miss stuff (12.8% SwStr%) and strong control (2.29 BB/9).  The question is going to be whether or not he can keep the ball in the ballpark, with a meager 37.1% groundball rate.  There’s also thinking that he could immediately help in the bullpen, though for now he’ll likely be viewed more as rotation depth (though Boston failing to address an obvious need in the bullpen could expedite that decision).

10) Denyi Reyes – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)
Reyes split time between Single-A and High-A, showing elite control (1.10 BB/9) and an ability to generate swings and misses (12.3% SwStr%).  He doesn’t generate a significant amount of groundballs (41.5%), and that could lead to home run issues, and from a pure stuff standpoint there are questions as to his upside.  It’s very possible that he’s simply using pinpoint control against younger hitters.  He turned 22 in November and we’ll start to get a better feel for what he can do as he advances.  Of course a 6.47 K/9 after his promotion to High-A is going to rise the red flag further.

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference

Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists:

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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