Top 20 Boston Red Sox prospects for 2019
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine.
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS
Grade A prospects are the elite. In theory, they have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Theoretically, most Grade A prospects develop into stars or at least major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don’t intervene. Note that is a major “if” in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for.
A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don’t make it at all.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
GRADES ARE PRELIMINARY AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE AS THE WINTER PROGRESSES
1) Michael Chavis, 3B, Grade B: Age 23, first round pick in 2014 from high school in Georgia; missed 80 games due to PED suspension, played well on return with .298/.381/.538 mark between NY-P tune-up, Double-A, and Triple-A, 19 walks, 52 strikeouts in 171 at-bats; profile hasn’t changed, impressive power with high strikeout rate, has made some improvements with zone discipline, glove adequate at third but he’s blocked there, may wind up at first base, bat should be ready soon; ETA 2019.
2) Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Grade B: Age 23, fourth round pick in 2016 from University of Arizona; hit .257/.361/.558 with 32 homers, 66 walks, 176 strikeouts in 455 at-bats between High-A and Double-A; similar profile to Chavis: right-handed hitter with huge power but contact issues; less likely to hit for average than Chavis but Dalbec has more pure power; error rate is high but arm and range work at third; like Chavis, he’s blocked at the hot corner and may wind up elsewhere; ETA late 2019.
3) Triston Casas, 1B-3B, Grade B: Age 18, first round pick in 2018 from high school in Florida; limited to four at-bats in pro ball by torn thumb ligament but should be at full strength by spring training; rated as one of the top high school bats in the draft with intriguing power potential; obviously we need to see how it plays against pro pitching; ETA 2021?
4) Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP, Grade B: Age 21, signed out of Venezuela in 2013, posted 3.53 ERA with 134/66 K/BB in 107 innings between High-A and Double-A, just 86 hits with one homer allowed; control inconsistent but there’s no doubt about the stuff, 93-98 MPH fastball, both slider and curve flash plus, change-up needs work, he’s overpowering on days when his command is on but command still needs tightening; relief risk is present but with his stuff he’ll get plenty of chances; ETA late 2019
5) Bryan Mata, RHP, Grade B: Age 19, signed out of Venezuela in 2016; limited to 72 innings by back problems, posted 3.50 ERA with 61/58 K/BB in High-A, 58 hits and just one homer; very young for this level; heavy sinker into mid-90s and high ground ball rate, both curveball and change-up are solid; needs to lower the walks and get more consistent in general; number three starter potential but unlikely to be rushed; ETA 2021.
6) Tanner Houck, RHP, Grade B/B-: Age 22, first round pick in 2017 from University of Missouri; posted 4.24 ERA in 119 innings in High-A with 111/60 K/BB, 110 hits; mediocre in the early going with control problems but made mechanical changes and was much better in second half, 3.13 ERA with 70/19 K/BB in 63 innings; mid-90s fastball, sometimes higher, with plus slider; change-up needs more work; another possible number three type; ETA late 2020.
7) Jay Groome, LHP, Grade B-: Age 20, first round pick in 2016 from high school in New Jersey; had a disappointing season in 2017 then missed all of 2018 with Tommy John surgery, making it difficult to get an objective handle on him; shows mid-90s fastball with plus curve when healthy but command is inconsistent; high ceiling but we are in wait-and-see mode here due to the injury; ETA 2021?
8) Mike Shawaryn, RHP, Grade B-: Age 24, fifth round pick in 2016 from University of Maryland; 3.44 ERA in 149 innings between Double-A and Triple-A with 132/38 K/BB, 130 hits; throws strikes with low-90s fastball, solid cutter/slider, mediocre change-up; not overpowering but gets the job done, fourth starter projection; ETA 2019.
9) C.J. Chatham, SS, Grade B-: Age 23, second round pick in 2016 from Florida Atlantic; hit .314/.350/.389 with 11 steals, 24 walks, 86 strikeouts in 437 at-bats in Low-A/High-A, working the rust off after missing most of 2017 with hamstring injury; line drive hitter with occasional pop and some speed, steady with the glove, may develop more power as he moves up; ETA 2020.
10) Antoni Flores, SS, Grade B-: Age 17, signed out of Venezuela in 2017; played just 15 games between Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League, hitting .340/.435/.528 in 53 at-bats, nine walks, eight strikeouts; looks limited by nagging injuries but he impressed everyone who saw him, with strong plate discipline and bat speed; has a chance to stay at shortstop though some believe he’ll outgrow that and wind up at third; high ceiling bat, quite promising but we need to see more; ETA 2022?
11) Durbin Feltman, RHP, Grade B-: Age 21, third round pick in 2018 out of Texas Christian; posted 1.93 ERA in 23 innings in pro debut between NY-P, Low-A, High-A; 36/5 K/BB, 18 hits allowed; should move through system very quickly, fastball 95-99 MPH, hard slider and workable change-up, throws strikes, gets grounders, middle relief at worst and a closer at best; I like him a lot; ETA 2020.
12) Nick Decker, OF, Grade C+/B-: Age 19, second round pick in 2018 from high school in New Jersey; got four at-bats in rookie ball until hurting his wrist and missing rest of the season; pre-draft reports give him positive marks for plate discipline, hitting feel, and power potential; could profile well in right; ETA 2022.
13) Denyi Reyes, RHP, Grade C+: Age 22, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2014; outstanding numbers with 1.97 ERA in 156 innings between Low-A and High-A, 145/19 K/BB, 122 hits; doesn’t show up this high on most prospect lists due to mediocre fastball that tops in low-90s; mixes in curve, slider, change-up; all of his pitches rate as just average on their own but his ability to locate them is excellent; need to see at higher levels but could have Yusmeiro Petit-like career path; ETA 2021.
14) Jarren Duran, INF-OF, Grade C+: Age 22, seventh round pick in 2018 out of Long Beach State; excellent debut with combined .357/.395/.516 mark between NY-P and Low-A, 14 doubles, 11 triples, 24 steals, 16 walks, 48 strikeouts in 283 at-bats; solid line drive hitter with 70-grade speed, lacks home run power but has enough boink in the bat to keep pitchers honest; played second base in college and can manage there well but Sox gave him looks in center and right to enhance versatility; projects as speed-oriented super-utility type with a chance for more if additional power comes; ETA 2021.
15) Josh Ockimey, 1B, Grade C+: Age 23, fifth round pick in 2014 from high school in Pennsylvania; hit .245/.356/.455 with 20 homers, 70 walks, 149 strikeouts in 404 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A; stereotypical slugger with plus power, patient approach, and a high strikeout rate; poor defender, with limited range and made 20 errors; bat should prove useful but where do you play him? ETA late 2019.
16) Brandon Howlett, 3B, Grade C+: Age 19, 21st round pick out of high school in Florida in 2018; third round buzz at one point but signability concerns and a poor spring knocked back his stock; Sox signed him and he looked very good in rookie ball, hit .289/.402/.513 between GCL and NY-P with much better strike zone judgment and hitting feel than expected; a bat to watch closely; ETA 2022.
17) Travis Lakins, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, sixth round pick in 2015 out of Ohio State; posted 2.32 ERA in 54 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 57/18 K/BB, 38 hits; classic bullpen profile with low-to-mid-90s fastball and a good cutter, can shut down an offense when his command is in gear; has a workable change-up and he started in college but history of elbow problems makes him a better fit in bullpen. ETA 2019.
18) Bobby Poyner, LHP, Grade C+: Age 25, 14th round pick in 2015 from University of Florida, posted 3.07 ERA in 44 innings between Double-A and Triple-A with 36/11 K/BB; pitched 22 innings in majors with 3.22 ERA, 24/3 K/BB but retains rookie status for 2019; not a burner with 89-90 MPH fastball but keeps hitters off-stride with change-up, slider, and curve plus good control; consistent reverse platoon splits mean he’s not a LOOGY and could have long career as middle man, ETA 2019.
19) Jhonathan Diaz, LHP, Grade C+: Age 22, signed out of Venezuela in 2013, posted 3.00 ERA in 153 innings in Low-A with 147/39 K/BB, 123 hits, six homers; good sink on low-90s fastball; curveball, slider, change-up all decent-enough, while not overpowering he gets his share of Ks, at least at the lower levels, because he knows how to pitch; if he keeps this up in Double-A, boost his grade up a notch; possible four/five starter; ETA 2021.
20) Kutter Crawford, RHP, Grade C+: Age 22, 16th round pick in 2017 from Florida Gulf Coast University, posted 3.26 ERA with 157/48 K/BB in 144 innings between Low-A and High-A, 132 hit, six homers; 88-90 college fastball has increased to 90-93, touching 94; curveball and change-up are OK; best secondary is his cutter, a blessing for headline writers of the future; may fit best in bullpen long-term but like Diaz he has a chance as a four/five starter; ETA 2021.
OTHER GRADE C+: Roldani Baldwin, C; Eduard Bazardo, RHP; Tyler Dearden, OF; Danny Diaz, 3B; Devlin Granberg, OF; Gilberto Jimenez, OF; Tanner Nishioka, 3B-2B; Nick Northcut, 3B; Esteban Quiroz, 2B; Roniel Raudes, RHP; Yasel Santana, RHP; Alex Scherff, RHP; Chandler Shepherd, RHP; Sam Travis, 1B
GRADE C: Victor Acosta, OF; Yoan Aybar, LHP; Brayan Bello, RHP; Cole Brannen, OF Marino Campana, OF; Pedro Castellanos, 1B-OF; Kole Cottam, C; William Cuevas, RHP; Enmanuel De Jesus, LHP; Tyler Esplin, OF; Daniel Gonzalez, RHP; Kyle Hart, LHP; Dedgar Jimenez, LHP; Matthew Kent, LHP; Eduardo Lopez, OF; Joan Martinez, RHP; Alexander Montero, RHP; Brett Netzer, 2B; Austin Rei, C; Zach Schellenger, RHP; Chase Shugart, RHP; Josh Taylor, LHP; Jake Thompson, RHP; Marcus Walden, RHP
I don’t think that much of this is a surprise, with the exception of Denyi Reyes at number 13, which is probably nine or ten spots higher than other lists will have him. I’m taking a gamble on his pitchability being enough as he moves up.
I’ll be around to answer questions in comments section and you can email other comment/questions to firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in the podcast next week.