Bobby Dalbec had a fantastic debut season for the Boston Red Sox farm system. Playing for the Lowell Spinners in the New York-Penn League, he made the transition to full-time position player look rather easy.
Dalbec was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft. While at Arizona Dalbec improved as a pitcher each year on the mound, transitioning from a closer to starter. It culminated in an 11-5 junior season, behind a 2.68 ERA and an 88-to-34 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 95 innings. He was armed with a low-90s fastball, and was stronger in the postseason than in the regular season, leading all pitchers with 41 strikeouts in Arizona’s College World Series run.
But it was his bat that the Red Sox enamored.
Dalbec put up solid numbers over three years in Arizona at the plate, splitting time between the mound and the hot corner. He slashed .282/.374/.468 over his collegiate career, belting 24 home runs (highlighted by a 15 home run 2015) and driving in 123. The summer prior to his final season, Dalbec led the Cape Cod League in home runs with 12 over just 27 games.
The Red Sox had him abandon his pitches and had him focus his energy on being the full-time third baseman. His bat didn’t miss a beat, as he had an August to remember, taking home two consecutive NYPL Player of the Week Awards which ultimately led to the NYPL August Player of the Month. On the season he slashed .386/.427/.674 with 13 doubles and seven home runs over just 134 at bats.
The 6-foot-4, 225 pound righty is loaded with power, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t come without his minor flaws. He is aggressive at the plate, often struggling with breaking stuff and, simply put, has a lot of swing-and-miss in his game. This was evidenced in his 33-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. People wonder about how his hitting will translate as he jumps the levels with his approach, and his .386 batting average is a bit misleading behind a .473 BABIP. Still a 224 wRC+ leaves a lot of hope for anyone, no matter their flaws.
He wasn’t pretty in the field, but some kinks were expected. The 21-year old made seven errors in 61 chances (an .885 fielding percentage) and posted a 2.45 range factor. He clearly has the arm with his pitching career behind him to succeed in the hot corner, and behind improve range and field, the Red Sox haven’t shown any intentions of abandoning his chances there.
The Red Sox system is one of the deepest in third base talent — with names like Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis and now Dalbec — that it will be interesting to see who becomes trade bait and who becomes a possible future Red Sox infielder. Expect Dalbec to start in Greenville of the Sally. Should he continue to hit and improve his plate approach and fast rise could be in store for Dalbec.