Top 15 Prospects: Boston Red Sox

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the Boston Red Sox farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from my own observations. The KATOH statistical projections, probable-outcome graphs, and (further down) Mahalanobis comps have been provided by Chris Mitchell. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of my prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. -Eric Longenhagen

The KATOH projection system uses minor-league data and Baseball America prospect rankings to forecast future performance in the major leagues. For each player, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for his first six years in the major leagues. There are drawbacks to scouting the stat line, so take these projections with a grain of salt. Due to their purely objective nature, the projections here can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated. Due to sample-size concerns, only players with at least 200 minor-league plate appearances or batters faced last season have received projections. -Chris Mitchell

Other Lists
AL Central (CHW, CLE, DET, KC, MIN)
NL Central (CHC, CIN, PIT, MIL, StL)
AL East (BAL, NYY, TB)

Red Sox Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Andrew Benintendi 22 MLB OF 2017 65
2 Rafael Devers 20 A+ 3B 2019 55
3 Jay Groome 18 A- LHP 2020 55
4 Sam Travis 23 AAA 1B 2017 45
5 Bobby Dalbec 21 A- 3B 2019 40
6 C.J. Chatham 22 A- SS 2019 40
7 Roniel Raudes 19 A RHP 2020 40
8 Travis Lankins 22 A+ RHP 2018 40
9 Josh Ockimey 21 A 1B 2020 40
10 Brian Johnson 26 MLB LHP 2017 40
11 Ben Taylor 24 AA RHP 2017 40
12 Mike Shawaryn 22 A- RHP 2019 40
13 Michael Chavis 21 A+ 3B 2019 40
14 Kyle Martin 26 AAA RHP 2017 40
15 Aneury Tavarez 24 AAA OF 2017 40

65 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Arkansas
Age 22 Height 5’10 Weight 170 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
60/70 55/55 45/55 55/55 50/55 50/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slashed .295/.360/.475 during big-league call-up.

Scouting Report
There were evaluators who didn’t know Benintendi was a draft-eligible sophomore as the 2015 season began. They had little reason to. He was solid but unspectacular as a freshman at Arkansas (in part due to injury), showing promising on-base skills but hitting for zero power while offering what appeared to be little physical projection. He didn’t play summer ball as a rising sophomore, either, as he recovered from a leg injury. He was allowed to do upper-body strength training and little else, so Benintendi bulked up. The following spring he was dominant, whacking 35 extra-base hits, posting a 1.205 OPS against mostly SEC opponents, and rocketing up boards into the top three or four for some clubs. The Red Sox drafted him seventh overall.

Though he’s unlikely to produce home-run totals commensurate with elite corner outfielders, Benintendi is going to be a doubles machine with elite on-base and contact skills. His natural feel for squaring pitches in various parts of the strike zone and generating hard, all-fields contact is sublime, and 40-plus annual doubles is in range. He could play center field, and play it well, if a cataclysmic deluge of injuries tear through Boston’s outfield, but for now he projects as a plus defender in either corner. Even at age 22, Benintendi’s modest stature belies physical projection and the cement on his physical tools is more or less dry, but his polish and proverbial (but also literal) baseball acumen are terrific, and he’s as close to a finished product as any prospect in the minors.

It’s worth noting that Benintendi has dealt with a few lower body injuries over the last several years. He had a quadriceps issue as a freshman at Arkansas (and a subsequent PRP injection, which was why he didn’t play summer ball) and then the knee sprain that shelved him for three weeks late last summer and kept him from graduating off this list.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 19.2 WAR

55 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic
Age 20 Height 6’0 Weight 195 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 60/70 40/55 40/30 40/50 60/60

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded .161 ISO, 17% strikeout rate as 19-year-old at High-A.

Scouting Report
Signed for $1.5 million in 2013, Devers was so dominant in his first pro season (split between the DSL and GCL) that he was sent to full-season ball the next year at just age 18. He’s tracked through the minors relatively unencumbered for the last two seasons. He struggled initially at High-A last year before adjusting to the level and hitting .310 from May onward and is likely to play all of 2017 as a 20-year-old at Double-A.

Devers has elite bat speed and, despite a noisy, high-effort swing, has been able to keep his strikeout totals down thanks to terrific hand-eye coordination and barrel control. His bat path mandates that he catch balls out in front of the plate in order to lift them and utilize his considerable raw power, but even when he’s making sub-optimal contact, it’s hard and to all fields because the bat speed is so good.

The body is probably going to force a move to first base at some point but, while Devers is already a large man, he’s more rangy than he appears over at third, has good hands and, I think, a decent chance to stay there for a while. His offensive profile holds water at first base, too.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 9.3 WAR

3. Jay Groome, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Barnegat HS (NJ)
Age 18 Height 6’5 Weight 200 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
55/60 55/70 40/50 40/55

Relevant/Interesting Metrics

Scouting Report
Groome was arguably the most talented prospect in the 2016 draft, but his stock was impacted by all sorts of other factors. Some teams had him off their board entirely due to off-field concerns. By draft day, he was no longer committed to Vanderbilt (which school had uninvited him to campus) and had instead committed to Chipola JC in Florida, where he could play for just a year before re-entering the draft, a move that allowed his camp to retain negotiating leverage. Teams late in the first round that had entered the draft with larger bonus pools (such as San Diego) had extra money waiting for Groome should he fall that far, but the Red Sox took him at 12 and signed him for $3.6 million, roughly the slot for pick No. 8.

If Groome pans out, he was a steal. He’s a big, athletic lefty with a low- to mid-90s fastball (I saw him at 90-92 in the fall but he’s touched 97 in the past), potential plus-plus a curveball, and projectable changeup and command. There aren’t many other pitchers in the minors with that kind of ceiling. If everything comes together, Groome is a front-end arm.

45 FV Prospects

4. Sam Travis, 1B
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Indiana
Age 23 Height 6’0 Weight 210 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 50/50 40/45 40/30 40/45 40/40

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Hit .272 at Triple-A before ACL tear.

Scouting Report
Travis was part of Indiana’s College World Series team in 2013 — a roster that also featured Kyle Schwarber, Brewers prospect Dustin Demuth and Twins farmhand Aaron Slegers, among others. He hit well in college, not just at IU but on the Cape as a rising sophomore and with Team USA as a rising junior — quelling concerns, in both cases, that Travis was merely feasting on mediocre Big Ten pitching. A relatively sure bet to hit, Travis was without a position and thus fell to the second round of the 2014 draft.

Travis has hit his way up to Triple-A, though never for much power. He has electric hands, quick and loose, and a very compact swing that had allowed him to avoid strikeouts until last year, when his K% spiked in an admittedly small sample. (He tore his ACL in May.)

I think Travis will hit and reach base enough to carve out a long career as a first base/DH, but his ceiling is capped in the fringe to average-regular range by a lack of in-game power. Travis turns 24 this summer and his frame is maxed out, so there probably isn’t any more coming. And while he has a high-contact approach, it’s very pull-heavy, enough that I think he’s a candidate for the shift in the majors which could have an impact on his BABIP.

(Author’s note: This is where I’d have Marco Hernandez were he still rookie-eligible. I consider him a high-end utility man that can put the bat on the ball and play all over the place, including a fine shortstop.)

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from undefined
Age 22 Height 6’4 Weight 225 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/70 30/50 40/40 45/50 55/55

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Struck out in 31% of plate appearances as junior at Arizona.

Scouting Report
Dalbec entered his junior year at Arizona as a potential first-round pick. He had arguably the most raw power in the entire draft and was athletic enough to project as a viable defensive third baseman. But Dalbec struck out in 30% of his plate appearances and, as the spring went along, more and more teams preferred him on the mound, where he was 89-93 with run and a chance for a solid-average slider and changeup. The Red Sox drafted him as a hitter and sent him to the New York-Penn League, where he hit .386/.430/.674 and recorded as many home runs as he’d at U of A during the spring (7) but in half as many games.

While, in my opinion, New York-Penn League pitching is not as polished as it is in the Pac-12, there were some substantive changes made to Dalbec’s swing after he signed which could indicate that he’s made actual strides. His footwork in the box at Arizona was clumsy, noisy and poorly balanced. The Red Sox opened up his stance a la Luis Gonzalez, and he looks much more comfortable and under control. There’s still some swing and miss there (neither Dalbec’s plate coverage nor his bat control are very good), but he doesn’t need to get to all of his raw power to profile at third. I think it’s premature to call Dalbec’s contact issues solved based on a month of games in short-season ball, but last summer was at least an encouraging sign.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Florida Atlantic
Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 45/45 30/40 50/50 50/55 60/60

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Produced .976 OPS at FAU.

Scouting Report
The 2016 draft was light on shortstop prospects, with only Gavin Lux and Delvin Perez looking like sure fits for the position from the high-school ranks while bat-first collegiate hitters like Bryson Brigman and Garrett Hampson were better fits at second base. Chatham was arguably the draft’s best college shortstop among those likely to stay there, showing more bat than Tulane’s Stephen Alemais, and Missouri’s Ryan Howard.

While Chatham is very tall for a shortstop, he’s lean, twiggy, and unlikely to get so big that he has to move off the position due to a lack of range. He has a good first step, is very flexible, and has good defensive footwork and hands as well as a plus arm. He’s a potential above-average defender at short.

Offensively, Chatham has modest bat speed but interesting leverage and extension in his swing that could produce doubles power. He has a deep load that some scouts worry might lead to excessive swing and miss but Chatham has solid hitter’s timing and hand-eye coordination and has never had an issue with strikeouts even against a higher concentration of elite pitching on the Cape. While Chatham’s offensive projection isn’t especially impressive free of positional context, it’s pretty solid for a viable defensive shortstop, and I think he has a chance to be a low-end regular, especially if the wrist/hand issues with which Chatham dealt last year were suppressing his power output. He’s more likely to be a utility type and Red Sox fans have firsthand awareness of the potential pitfalls of drafting a player just because he can play shortstop. (Deven Marrero turns 27 in August.) That said, I think this was a solid second-round pick.)

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Nicaragua
Age 19 Height 6’1 Weight 160 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
40/45 45/50 40/50 45/60

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Has walked only 32 in 137 career innings.

Scouting Report
An undersized Nicaraguan righty with modest stuff but advanced command, Raudes turned just 19 over the winter but has already had success in full-season ball. If not for a disastrous eight-run start against Augusta in June, Raudes’ ERA would have been near an even 3.00 for the season. His delivery is gorgeous and highly athletic, as balanced, efficient, and explosive as Raudes’ immature physicality will allow. He repeats it consistently and projects for plus command.

And, realistically, Raudes is going to need to have terrific command, because his stuff is just okay, and there’s debate about how much more is coming. His fastball sits mostly in the upper 80s and will top out around 93 in some starts, but he doesn’t always get there and Raudes is so wispy and frail-looking that not all scouts consider him projectable. He also has some feel for a curveball in the 73-76 mph range that will flash average to above, but Raudes doesn’t always finish it and several of his breakers sail up above the strike zone. His changeup is below average but carries a full grade of projection for me because Raudes’ arm is quick and deceptive.

Unless there’s much more velocity coming than I currently have projected, Raudes profiles as a No. 4/5 starter. Because the command aspect of the profile is comfortably in place, there’s less risk Raudes winds up a reliever than is typical for a well-regarded teenage arm.

Also of interest, but not of consequence, is Raudes’ unique pre-pitch ritual during which, before he even looks into to get a sign from the catcher, he goes into a deep crouch and swirls his hands around his head. I don’t know why Raudes does this, but it looks cool and usually elicits an audible response of surprise from scouts who hadn’t previously seen him.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.3 WAR

Drafted: 6th Round, 2015 from Ohio State
Age 23 Height 6’1 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
55/55 55/60 45/50 40/45

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
None. Threw 91 innings but was probably contending with elbow issues for many of them.

Scouting Report
Lakins has an exceptionally quick arm that generates plus fastball velocity in the 92-94 mph range, and he’ll occasionally show you 96, though the pitch lacks life. He has a good arm action that offers some changeup projection, and he already has good feel for spinning an old school, 12-6 power curveball that projects to plus.

His resume is not without warts. Lakins’ velo waxed and waned at Ohio State (he was a draft-eligible sophomore in 2015), he’s all of 6-foot-1, has some effort to his delivery, and dealt with a fractured olecranon (second time “olecranon” has made its way into a scouting reports this offseason for me) last year that didn’t require surgery. (Ozzie Albies’ did.) If you can look past those issues, focus on the stuff and view Lakins’ Midwestern background as an indicator of late-arriving pitching skills, he’s a potential No. 4 starter. But based on all of the external variables in play, I’d say he’s more likely to be a good reliever.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.9 WAR

Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from Neumann-Goretti HS (PA)
Age 21 Height 6’1 Weight 215 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 40/50 30/30 40/45 40/40

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Hit .297 in first half of 2016, .152 in second half.

Scouting Report
Philadelphia isn’t exactly teeming with amateur baseball talent (Ockimey’s number has already been retired at his high school), but lo and behold: there was Ockimey in 2014 amid a sea of total non-prospects in the city, with plus raw power and an innate feel for opposite-field contact. He was difficult to evaluate there, not only because of the level of competition he was facing, but because there were concerns about his body and eyesight, too, though those have been remedied.

Ockimey’s power comes from a combination of strength, bat speed, and his ability to get his weight forward into the baseball without taking the big, aggressive strides you see from lots of modern power hitters. That helps manage his strikeout totals by simplifying his swing, though they’re still quite lofty, as Ockimey lacks bat control and can get stiff in the box. He had a monster start to last year but then struggled after clubs began shifting him later in the season.

Ockimey hits balls out to all fields, puts the ball in the air readily, and has shown a discerning eye at the plate in each of his three pro seasons. He’s shaping up to be a three-true-outcomes prospect similar to Cleveland’s Bobby Bradley, though Ockimey hasn’t progressed as far through the minors as Bradley has. I think Ockimey has a chance to be an everyday first baseman but everything, the game power and on-base ability, need to continue to hold water because this is a first-base/DH-only profile with no margin for error, and therefore a risky one.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.3 WAR

10. Brian Johnson, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2012 from Florida
Age 26 Height 6’3 Weight 225 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command
40/40 50/50 40/45 45/45 50/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
None. Missed several weeks and pitched through anxiety issues before that.

Scouting Report
Johnson’s pro career has been derailed several times by occurrences beyond his control. He was struck in the face by a line drive back in 2012 and couldn’t eat solid food for a while. He had shoulder tendinitis in 2013, an ulnar nerve issue in 2015, was carjacked in the fall of that year. (The moron who stole Johnson’s car at a Florida gas station did so before Johnson had filled the tank and quickly ran out of gas during the subsequent police chase.) He then struggled with Pawtucket to start 2016 before he was shut down for six weeks to deal with anxiety.

And while Johnson has dealt with all of those things with grace and maturity, his stuff has backed up a bit. He’s been 87-90 this spring with more or less the same secondaries he’s always had (a short but tight low-80s cutter, a solid-average curveball in the mid-70s, and a fringe changeup) but less command. He’s still likely to have a big-league future of some kind, but it’s probably as a fifth starter or bullpen lefty rather than the mid-rotation starter many thought he’d be when drafted. That said, just getting back to and staying in the big leagues is a win for Johnson and the Sox after all that’s happened to him.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.0 WAR

11. Ben Taylor, RHP
Drafted: 7th Round, 2015 from South Alabama
Age 24 Height 6’3 Weight 225 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
60/60 45/50 40/45 50/55

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded 30% strikeout rate in 34 Double-A innings.

Scouting Report
A senior sign, Taylor spent two years at Chattahoochee Valley and then two at South Alabama before a team finally drafted him. He shot to Portland in his first full pro season, was invited to big-league camp this spring, and is still with the club. Taylor regularly misses bats with his low- to mid-90s fastball up above the strike zone. It’s a comfortably plus fastball and Taylor fills the zone with it. He also has a fringey slider with inconsistent shape and bite, but it flashes average and could get there with reps and big-league coaching.

There’s some question about how effective Taylor can be as, essentially, a one-pitch guy in the big leagues. But that fastball has missed barrel after barrel this spring, and Taylor doesn’t have the erratic control issues other upper-level relief prospects in this system do. He has made the Opening Day roster.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.5 WAR

12. Mike Shawaryn, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from Maryland
Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 225 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
50/50 45/50 50/55 45/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
None. Stuff was up and down at Maryland and threw just 15 innings after signing.

Scouting Report
A revelation as an underclassman at Maryland, Shawaryn got a lot of looks from draft decision makers as a freshman, as Maryland’s schedule included NC State (Carlos Rodon, Trea Turner), Clemson (Daniel Gossett), Florida State (Luke Weaver), and Notre Dame (Pat Connaughton) — to say nothing of Terp rotation mate Jake Stinnett. He was dominant as a sophomore, posting a sub-1.00 WHIP and striking out nearly 11 hitters per nine innings.

As a junior, Shawaryn’s stuff backed up and he was sitting 86-90 in some starts instead of the usual 91-95 with movement. His slider was also less effective. He fell all the way to the fifth round but got an overslot deal there.

I saw Shawaryn in the fall and he was 91-94 with a solid-average changeup. He has a nearly sidearm release, so it’s difficult for him to consistently get on top of his slider which has fringe, sweepy action. But the pitch plays up against righties because of Shawaryn’s arm slot, and it could be effective against lefties if he can locate it down and in to them. If he does that, he could be a back-end starter. There’s significant risk here because of the struggles Shawaryn had late in his college career and some consider his delivery to be quite grotesque.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Sprayberry HS (GA)
Age 21 Height 5’10 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/55 40/45 40/40 40/45 55/55

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Slugged .536 vs. lefties in 2016, .372 overall.

Scouting Report
Chavis was drafted in the first round as a stocky little maxed-out third baseman with electric bat speed and present but unprojectable raw power. He hasn’t hit in pro ball because his swing has some effort to it, his bat isn’t in the hitting zone for very long, and his approach is a bit overaggressive and geared for pull-only contact. He has an above-average arm, but it’s his lone defensive asset at third base where his footwork and actions both vary wildly. He may have to move to an outfield corner, which would put more pressure on an already teetering offensive skillset. He’s still just 21 and you can’t teach this kind of bat speed, but Chavis is tracking like a corner platoon bat right now.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.1 WAR

14. Kyle Martin, RHP
Drafted: 9th Round, 2013 from Texas A&M
Age 26 Height 6’7 Weight 230 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
55/55 40/40 60/60 45/45

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded 78 strikeouts in 66 innings at Triple-A.

Scouting Report
A senior sign in 2013, Martin has ridden to the doorstep of the big leagues on the back of a plus changeup and mid-90s fastball. Martin is a surprisingly stable strike-thrower for a 6-foot-7 righty whose arm slot was altered several times in college. Except for a few weeks on the DL in 2015, he’s been healthy as a pro while working with his current delivery. He’s a high-probability middle reliever who should debut this year.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.9 WAR

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2010 from Dominican Republic
Age 25 Height 5’9 Weight 195 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 45/45 30/30 55/55 50/55 50/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Hit .335 in Eastern League.

Scouting Report
Drafted by Baltimore in December’s Rule 5 and returned to Boston, Tavarez cut down his strikeout rate in 2016 and hit well in what was essentially a repeat year at Double-A. He tracks pitches well and hits balls hard on the ground, legging out extra-base hits with his above-average speed. He doesn’t run quite well enough to play center field, and there’s not enough game power for a corner profile. Instead, Tavarez should be a competent bench outfielder, hitting and running well while playing good corner defense.

KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.7 WAR


Noteworthy Mahalanobis Comps for 40+ FV Prospects


Other Prospects of Note (In Order of Preference)

Gerson Bautista, RHP – Bautista signed not long before his 18th birthday and missed his first pro season due to a positive PED test. His debut came in the DSL at age 19 the following year, and he remains a bit old for his current level, having tracked through one affiliate at a time until his fastball was too much for Low-A last year. Bautista has elite arm acceleration and sits 95-99 despite an inefficient delivery. He has well below-average control and his slider is wildly erratic, either featuring pitch-tipping arm deceleration or altogether lacking movement. I think there’s a cogent argument to be made that Bautista is the highest-upside relief arm in a system that’s largely composed of seventh-inning guys, but Bautista is already 21, has thrown just 25 innings in full-season ball, and is still just an arm-strength lottery ticket at this point.

Bryan Mata, RHP – While he was a bit thicker than I anticipated, Mata was 90-94 in the fall with some physical projection still remaining and some proclivity for locating his fastball. He doesn’t get on top of his breaking ball from his low arm slot but has feel for a fading, low-80s changeup. I think the breaking ball will get to average and there’s a chance for a 55 change and command. That’s a solid No. 4/5 if things come together, but Mata is just 17 and a long way from maturity.

Nick Longhi, 1B/OF, 0.4 KATOH+ WAR – Longhi has good feel to hit and a plus arm, but his swing involves little to no use of his lower half and his woodcutter’s bat path generates very little loft. Without power, it’s hard to envision a role beyond that of a bench bat for a prospect limited to first base and the corner-outfield spots.

Lorenzo Cedrola, OF, 1.1 KATOH+ WAR – Cedrola has hit well in the DSL and GCL each of the last two seasons. He’s a plus runner who fits in center field, but his physical projection is very limited, and he may not develop power necessary to play every day, even in center. He has more of a fourth-outfield skillset right now.

Shaun Anderson, RHP – Rare is the relief prospect with a five-pitch mix, but Anderson is that, with a low-90s fastball that will touch 94 and a enough secondary pitches to form a J-pop group. He works an upper-80s cutter under the hands of left-handed hitters, has a low-80s slider with more loop that he runs away from righties, and he can turn over a fringey upper-70s curveball, too. He also has a rarely used changeup. Anderson was the closer at Florida and it’s worth considering whether he might fit in a rotation and was just pushed to the Gators’ ‘pen simply because they have so much other talent on the roster.

Luis Ysla, LHP, 0.6 KATOH+ WAR – Acquired from San Francisco in the 2015 Alejandro De Aza trade, Ysla is a low-slot, arm-strength reliever with a cutting mid-90s fastball. He offers little else. There’s some slider feel, but Ysla’s delivery is inconsistent and so is the slider’s shape and his ability to locate it.

Jake Cosart, RHP, 1.1 KATOH+ WAR – Cosart’s fastball ticked up after he moved to the bullpen, sitting in the mid-90s and playing up due to deception. He has 30 control and a unique, high-effort delivery during which Cosart’s torso swivels, at a high rate of speed, about his lower half. It’s weird. But he throws hard, has an average curveball and began working, and making strides with a new splitter last year. He’s a potential relief weapon, but both the secondaries and control need to come for him to get there. The arm strength is the only thing already in place, so there’s more risk here than there is with some of the other relief arms in the system who are either already throwing strikes or showing some sort of bat-missing offering beyond the fastball.

Trenton Kemp, OF, 0.2 KATOH+ WAR – Kemp has huge raw power and good straight-line speed. He began seeing more pitches in 2016 but historically has had an aggressive approach and strikes out a lot because of lever length and because of general stiffness in his cut. I don’t think he’s going to hit, but if he starts to, even a little bit, he instantly becomes a dude because of the power. He was a late-round overslot signee in 2014 and a familiar face at some of the big showcases.

Yeison Coca, SS – I’m not sure there’s an adult-sized jersey that will fit Coca, who was drowning in his instructional-league garb last fall. It’s a good baseball body, though, and there’s some bat speed, but Coca’s swings from both sides of the plate need polish that could come with increased physicality. He has good defensive footwork and actions, is twitchy and athletic, and should fit at shortstop provided he grows into a little bit more arm strength.

Robby Scott, LHP, 0.8 KATOH+ WAR – Scott was signed out of indy ball in 2011 and has slowly climbed through the minors as a reliever, finally making his big-league debut last year at age 27. He drops his arm slot down versus lefties and gives them fits with a mid-80s fastball and Frisbee slider. Against righties, his arm swing is more conventional, his breaking ball more curve-ish; if he needs to miss a bat versus a right-hander, he goes to his changeup. The stuff isn’t great but the results have been good, and he’s at least an up-and-down relief piece at this point. There’s a chance hitters will start adjusting to and teeing off on his fastball, but until then we should all enjoy the ride.

Chandler Shepherd, RHP, 0.8 KATOH+ – Shepherd is from a small town in Kentucky, started playing varsity high-school ball in seventh grade, and had Tommy John as a sophomore. He sits 90-94 with his fastball, has an average, slurvy breaking ball, and a fringe changeup. It’s not big, bat-missing stuff, but he throws strikes and should settle into some sort of bullpen role.

Josh Tobias, INF, 0.3 KATOH+ – Tobias has quick hitter’s hands and good feel for the barrel but is maxed out physically and has never produced power to profile at his likely defensive home, left field. If batted-ball data enables him to pass at second and third base, he could be a versatile, pinch-hitting bench option.

Kyri Washington, OF, 0.3 KATOH+ – Washington has a similar skillset to Kemp (huge raw power, speed, but swing and miss due to stiffness and poor plate coverage) but is a year older and at the same level.

Austin Rei, C, 0.2 KATOH+ – The club’s third rounder in 2015, Rei has decent bat speed and some pull power but struggles with strikeouts and his receiving. He can throw, though: it’s an average arm, and he had an injured thumb ligament on his catching hand in college thumb which may have slowed his defensive development. It’s not sexy offensive profile; if he can catch, though, he’s a second or third backstop for someone.

Kervin Suarez, UTIL – A speedy little Venezuelan infielder who got $100K in July, Suarez has solid feel to hit, is exceptionally twitchy but lacks physical projection and might fit better in center field than he does on the dirt. He spent 2016 playing all over the place in the DSL and making contact from both sides of the plate, something nobody expected him to do, as he only began switch-hitting in the last year. I think there might be more pop coming as he fills out, as, despite a lack of height, he looked physically projectable to me in the fall.

Marc Brakeman, RHP, 0.4 KATOH+ – Brakeman entered his junior spring at Stanford as a possible second or third rounder, but he couldn’t stay healthy and made just nine starts because of a shoulder issue. He fell to the 16th round but got sixth-round money. When healthy, he’s 90-94 with a plus changeup that breaks early but bottoms out hard. His curveball is fringe to average but plays up against righties because of his low, slingy arm action. He could be a back-end starter; there’s just significant injury risk here. Brakeman began 2016 in the Greenville rotation before moving to the bullpen.

Stephen Nogosek, RHP – Like many Oregon relievers, Nogosek has a quirky lower arm slot that allows his fastball/slider combination to play up against righties. He shows the ball to left-handed hitters pretty early and might have platoon issues if his fringe changeup doesn’t progress. He could move quickly as a hard-throwing right-on-right reliever.

Trey Ball, LHP, 0.7 KATOH+ – Once the seventh overall pick in the 2013 draft, Ball still shows glimpses of why he was selected that high, but his velocity has backed up and he can’t blow it by advanced hitters in the upper half of the strike zone or get them to chase up above it. But that’s where Ball lives with his fastball, and he hasn’t yet shown an ability to work the ball down. He was up to 94 in the AFL, mostly 90-92 with an average curveball and below-average cutter.

Yoan Aybar, OF, 0.1 KATOH+ – Aybar is an above-average runner, has a plus arm, and a very projectable frame at a thin, but broad shouldered 6-foot-2. He has average bat speed but needs a mechanical overhaul if he’s going to start hitting. Aybar turns 20 in July.

Pedro Castellanos, 1B – A 19-year-old Venezuelan, Castellanos hit for power in the DSL last year, and he has considerable physical projection but needs significant mechanical work to deal with his swing’s length and bat path.

Jamie Callahan, RHP, 0.3 KATOH+ – Callahan delivers the ball from an awkward vertical slot and whips the ball in hard, 94-96 in my Fall League looks. He has well below-average control and a hard but short, fringe slider in the 87-90 mph range. He’s a potential relief asset.

Danny Mars, OF, 0.9 KATOH+ – A sixth rounder in 2014 out of Chipola, Mars is a quick-batted little switch-hitting outfielder who might get there as a bench outfielder, as long as he sees enough left-handed pitching on the way up.

Stanley Espinal, 3B, 0.3 KATOH+ – He struggled as a 19-year-old in the GCL, but Espinal has some bat speed, natural loft in his swing, and lots of physical projection. If his body starts to fill out I think there’s a chance he starts hitting for some power.

Devon Fisher, RHP – Fisher was kind of a dude as a Virginia high-school catcher in a draft without any other high-school catching in 2014. He was also 88-92 off the mound with a lower slot and some breaking-ball feel. He converted to the mound last year and missed some bats in the GCL.

Cistulli’s Guy
Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV.

Marc Brakeman, RHP, 0.4 KATOH+
Brakeman is often cited as a future reliever. He’s often cited as a present reliever, too — likely owing to all the relief appearances he’s made as a professional (15 of them, against 10 starts). So if that’s the role in which he ultimately thrives, it won’t be particularly surprising.

It also probably won’t be a result of insufficient stuff for starting. As Longenhagen notes above, Brakeman sits comfortably in the low 90s with his fastball. As at least one other source notes, he touches 96 with that same pitch. And as almost everyone notes, he features an excellent changeup. The combination of an average-or-better fastball and plus changeup represents a strong foundation, one well suited to dealing both with same- and opposite-handed batters — and, therefore, well suited to a starting role.

The numbers from his first full minor-league season support that prognosis. Over nearly 73 innings last year in the Sally League, he recorded strikeout and walk rates of 24.2% and 6.1%, respectively. Brakeman has had trouble staying healthy at points, so it might make sense for him to work in shorter stints. If he exhibits the physical wherewithal to tolerate a greater workload, however, he seems also to possess the requisite skill.

Here, for illustrative purposes, is video evidence of Brakeman’s changeup:




System Overview

Even dating back to last summer, this system was shallow but top-heavy, with several of the better prospects in all of baseball at the head of the class with little behind them. After the Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz deals, it’s a few Andrew Benintendi at-bats from just looking shallow. But the loss of mega-talents Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and Anderson Espinoza (who was 94-97 on Saturday before he rolled his ankle and was removed from his final spring start as a precaution) were at least incurred for the greater good, as the club seeks to compete for its division and a World Series. For that reason, the most important players in Boston’s minor leagues this year are not the ones at the top of this list but rather the seemingly innocuous names further down, like Johnson and Shepherd, who will start the year at Pawtucket but will likely have to bolster a seemingly fragile big league staff at some point this summer.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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7 years ago

Johnny Damon.

7 years ago
Reply to  southie