Top 19 Prospects: Boston Red Sox by Eric Longenhagen April 4, 2018 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Boston Red Sox. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. We’d also like to extend our condolences to the friends and family of the late Daniel Flores, as well as the Red Sox international scouting department. We were excited to watch Daniel play baseball and can’t imagine what those who anticipated watching him grow up have dealt with since his untimely passing. Top Prospects Series 2018 2017 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Red Sox Top Prospects Rk Name Age High Level Position ETA FV 1 Michael Chavis 22 AA 1B 2018 50 2 Jay Groome 19 A LHP 2021 50 3 Tanner Houck 21 A- RHP 2019 45 4 Sam Travis 24 MLB 1B 2018 45 5 Bryan Mata 18 A RHP 2021 45 6 Jalen Beeks 24 AAA LHP 2018 45 7 Darwinzon Hernandez 21 A LHP 2021 45 8 Danny Diaz 17 R 3B 2022 40 9 Mike Shawaryn 23 A+ RHP 2019 40 10 Cole Brannen 19 A- OF 2022 40 11 Bobby Dalbec 22 A 3B 2021 40 12 Josh Ockimey 22 AA 1B 2020 40 13 C.J. Chatham 23 A SS 2020 40 14 Ty Buttrey 25 AAA RHP 2018 40 15 Alex Scherff 20 R RHP 2022 40 16 Tzu-Wei Lin 24 MLB UTIL 2018 40 17 Joan Martinez 21 R RHP 2021 40 18 Roniel Raudes 20 A+ RHP 2020 40 19 Bobby Poyner 25 MLB LHP 2018 40 50 FV Prospects 1. Michael Chavis, 1B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Sprayberry HS (GA) Age 21 Height 5’10 Weight 210 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 65/65 50/60 40/40 40/45 55/55 If you were to look just at Chavis’s 2016 stats and with the knowledge that he was only a viable defensive fit at first base, you’d call him a non-prospect. This dip in production was brought about by a broken finger, and in 2017, Chavis was back to taking monster hacks that produce comfortably plus raw power. He’s going to strike out, and he isn’t especially patient, but he has a good chance to get to most of that power and do enough damage to profile at first base. Chavis has the arm for third base but lacks the horizontal mobility to profile there in a vacuum. Boston has shown a willingness to put up with less lateral range on their infield, but a left side of the infield which features Chavis and Xander Bogaerts together is probably too heavy-footed for comfort, even with proactive defensive positioning. Chavis projects to first base and has dealt with an oblique injury this spring. 2. Jay Groome, LHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Barnegat HS (NJ) Age 18 Height 6’6 Weight 220 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command 55/55 55/65 40/50 40/50 Groome still touts the fastball/curveball combination that made him such a dynamite amateur prospect, but his 2017 season was marred by injury (an intercostal strain in his first start and forearm soreness late in the summer), an absence of changeup development, and questions about his conditioning. He sits 91-93, will touch 96 and could have some fastball projection if he rebuilds his once-promising frame into something leaner and more flexible. His changeup just needs reps, but those can only be had if Groome is getting ahead of hitters and into counts where his changeup can be used, so his fastball command will need to develop first. There’s still time for him to become a front-end starter, but the timeline has shifted back following a fruitless first full season. The 2018 campaign, meanwhile, is off to an inauspicious beginning with Groome set to start it on the DL with a flexor strain. 45 FV Prospects 3. Tanner Houck, RHP Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Missouri Age 21 Height 6’5 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 60/60 55/60 50/55 40/45 40/50 Houck was a low-slot righty in college. Between that and the lack of a changeup, many teams worried he’d be vulnerable to opposite-handed hitters and considered him a likely reliever. In the last six months, however, the Red Sox have altered Houck’s stride direction and posture in such a way that has functionally changed his arm slot, and Houck has added a second breaking ball that is flashing plus. He’s also working more with a four-seamer rather than a sinker, and his new fastball plane is better suited for it. Already much different than he was last summer, Houck could have a breakout year. 4. Sam Travis, 1B Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Indiana Age 23 Height 6’0 Weight 205 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/55 50/50 45/50 40/30 40/45 40/40 Travis has been a bat-only prospect since his days at Indiana, when he was still playing a lot of third base. He has developed almost exactly as was expected, moving from third to first base, where his lack of raw power is more problematic. Travis isn’t totally without pop, but his swing has never produced enough airborne contact to tap into it and he hit 50% of balls in play on the ground last year. His swing has been altered this spring, with his hands loading a bit lower. The result appears more fluid and athletic. His swing is still rather flat-planed, but it’s better and gives Travis some breakout potential. 5. Bryan Mata, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela Age 18 Height 6’3 Weight 160 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command 50/55 50/55 50/55 40/55 Mata has advanced pitchability for his age. He can throw his curveball for strikes or bury it beneath the zone, knows how to set up his changeup to both-handed hitters, and has good arm-side command of a running, low-90s fastball. Mata’s arm slot has dropped since he arrived in the States and now resides in the low-three-quarters area. This descent has created more tail on the pitch, which has also gotten harder as Mata has now begun to fill out — and, though he doesn’t appear athletic, Mata has retained his advanced command through this mechanical change despite having filled out more quickly than anticipated. If things continue to break right — and they have so far — Mata will end up with a bunch of above-average pitches and 55 or 60 command. Teenagers with this kind of stuff typically come off the board in the sandwich or second round. 6. Jalen Beeks, LHP Drafted: 12th Round, 2014 from Arkansas Age 23 Height 5’11 Weight 195 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command 45/45 50/55 55/60 45/50 Beeks’ stuff ticked up in 2017 and he amassed strikeout rates of 28% and 24%, respectively, in just under 150 innings at Double- and Triple-A. He sits 90-93, will touch 95, and flashes a plus curveball and changeup. His command is fringey, his delivery somewhat stiff, and it’s possible these issues funnel him to the bullpen. His command doesn’t have far to go to profile neatly in a rotation. If it gets there, it doesn’t matter if it looks a little ugly as he does it. He’s a near-ready No. 4/5 starter. 7. Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela Age 20 Height 6’2 Weight 185 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 60/60 40/45 55/60 40/45 40/45 He isn’t as quick-armed as the legendary lefty, but Hernandez’s delivery is Billy Wagner’s fraternal mechanical twin. When the fastball is at its best, it’s 93-96 for an entire outing and plays up due to the deceptive quickness of Hernandez’s arm action and down-mound extension. There are instances when Hernandez doesn’t clear his front side and his pitches sail up into the left-handed batter’s box. This strike-throwing issue, coupled with a shallow present repertoire, makes Hernandez a risky bet to stick as a starter. It’s best not to overthink this one, though. This is a 21-year-old lefty with plus heat and a plus hook. If he were a draft-eligible college prospect with a chance to start, he’d be discussed as a late first rounder. For a club that regarded him as a reliever, he’s still be considered a late-second-round or early-third-round pick. 40 FV Prospects 8. Danny Diaz, 3B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela Age 17 Height 6’1 Weight 170 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 50/60 20/55 50/40 40/55 60/60 Diaz signed for $1.6 million out of Venezuela in July of 2017. He had among the best present raw power and physicality in his July 2 class and still has some room to add more as he matures. He’s graceful, athletic, and in possession of the actions and footwork to play the infield, with plenty of arm for the left side. His bat is tough to project, with few in-game looks against quality pitching from which to draw, but it’s not any more volatile than that of the other hitters in this FV tier and Diaz has more upside. He’s a long-term project, but could be an above-average regular. 9. Mike Shawaryn, RHP Video Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from Maryland Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 50/50 55/60 50/55 45/50 Shawaryn’s fastball velocity has been roller-coasting since his sophomore year at Maryland. It dipped down a bit in 2017 but has been comfortably in the low 90s this spring, up to 95. Shawaryn’s slider is average in a vacuum but plays way up due to his violent arm action and low slot. He also has terrific command of it and will back-foot it to left-handed hitters. His fading changeup helps reduce his exposure to platoon issues that might otherwise disqualify him from the rotation. That said, there is some concern about Shawaryn’s fastball, which lacks plane, inviting too much air-ball contact. As long as his fastball remains hard enough to play at the big-league level, he’ll be a fine back-end starter. 10. Cole Brannen, OF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Westfield HS (GA) Age 18 Height 6’0 Weight 170 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 50/55 20/40 55/50 40/45 50/50 Recovery from hamate surgery muted Brannen’s well-rounded skillset during his senior spring, but at various times throughout his high-school career he showed signs of viable center-field defense, solid-average raw power, and some feel to hit, though not for in-game power matching the raw. Brannen’s upper body is loose and rotational through contact, but there’s disagreement about how hitterish his hands/wrists, which are a bit stiff, are going to be. There’s a path to an everyday big-league role here if Brannen improves in center and hits. 11. Bobby Dalbec, 3B Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Arizona 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 70/70 30/60 40/40 45/50 55/55 We’ve now had two consecutive uneven years from Dalbec, who was bad as a junior at U of A, then went nuts with a new swing in pro ball after the draft, and then hit for power in 2017 (over half his balls in play had exit velocities over 100 mph) while striking out in 37% of his plate appearances amid injury. If there’s new info about Dalbec from 2017, it is that he continued to show above-average patience at the plate. He’s athletic enough to play third, so there’s a little extra room for the strikeout issues to breath if they don’t improve. He could be Joey Gallo or Jake Lamb; he could also be Juan Francisco. 12. Josh Ockimey, 1B Video 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 40/55 30/30 40/45 40/40 Similar to Dalbec in many ways, Ockimey has better plate discipline (and some of the better ball/strike recognition in the minors) and handedness, but is less athletic and has nowhere to go on the defensive spectrum. He might be a DH-only player with strikeout issues stemming from stiffness and a lack of bat control. Ockimey might benefit from a more athletic swing, something that incorporates more movement than his current, hands-only iteration, but some scouts don’t know if he’s athletic enough to maintain it. He has special power in his hands and wrists, and will be a three-true-outcomes everyday first baseman if everything clicks. 13. C.J. Chatham, SS Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Florida Atlantic Age 22 Height 6’4 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 Chatham hasn’t played much in pro ball due to injury. In 2017, he was limited to just seven games by a severe hamstring issue. In college, he looked good at short despite his twiggy, gangly-looking frame, and his offensive output may have been masked by hand injuries. He continues to project as a potential low-end regular and likely utilityman on tools, but he’s also earning an injury-prone label and his time horizon to the big leagues has shifted dramatically. 14. Ty Buttrey, RHP Drafted: 4th Round, 2012 from Providence HS (NC) Age 24 Height 6’6 Weight 230 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 70/70 40/45 60/60 40/40 A behemoth sinker/changeup prospect, Buttrey will touch 100 and sit 94-97. His delivery lacks fluidity it detracts from his ability to command his fastball, but there’s enough strike-throwing ability and stuff to comfortably project Buttrey in a relief role, and he has a non-zero chance to be a late-inning arm. 15. Alex Scherff, RHP Video Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from Prestonwood Christian HS (TX) Age 20 Height 6’3 Weight 205 Bat/Throw S/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command 55/60 45/50 40/50 30/40 Scherff is one of two well-regarded high-school draftees from 2017 who are already 20 and have yet to throw a pro pitch. The other is Marlins lefty Trevor Rogers. Scherff’s fastball velocity ticked way up when he got himself in better shape in high school, and he was up to 97 on the summer showcase circuit before his senior year. Though he’s built like a Greek god, Scherff is a below-average athlete and lacks flexibility in his lower half. His delivery is awkward-looking and stiff, leading to command troubles and inconsistent secondary quality. He’ll show you an average changeup and curveball, but his feel for both is raw for a 20-year-old. That said, Scherff has arm strength and works hard. It’s likely that at least one of his secondaries becomes a consistent weapon and enables him to have a big-league role. 16. Tzu-Wei Lin, UTIL Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Taiwan Age 23 Height 5’9 Weight 155 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/50 40/40 30/40 50/50 45/50 50/50 Lin made a swing change that enabled him to get to more power (now 40 instead of 30) in games than he had previously. He’s passable at short, saw more time in center field last year, and continued to display an excellent approach and solid bat-to-ball skills. He projects to play a multi-positional utility role. 17. Joan Martinez, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic Age 21 Height 6’3 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command 60/60 50/60 30/40 Martinez is a low-slot howitzer whose fastball sits in the mid- to upper 90s, topping out at 99. His delivery looks like Mychal Givens‘, but Martinez doesn’t have a slider of that quality yet. He’s only working in relief and needs to develop a full grade of command to profile, but he’s a potential late-inning arm. 18. Roniel Raudes, RHP 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 55/60 45/60 The wispy, hyper-athletic Nicaraguan with the eccentric, pre-pitch, overhead glove swirl, sits 89-91, will touch 93, and has a plus changeup. His lack of velocity and good breaking ball limit his ceiling (there’s probably not going to be more velocity here) and Raudes’ command took a step backward on paper last season, but he should bounce back and continues to profile as a back-end starter. He’ll pitch as a 20-year-old all season and could reach Double-A. 19. Bobby Poyner, LHP Drafted: 14th Round, 2015 from Florida Age 24 Height 6’0 Weight 205 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Changeup Cutter Command 50/50 55/60 45/50 55/55 Poyner has a 168:30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his minor-league career and has done that with a fastball that barely crests 90 mph. He’s not even obviously deceptive or mechanically unique, but it’s hard to pick up what Poyner is throwing as the ball leaves his hand. This is especially true for his changeup. Whatever sorcery is at work here should play in single-inning bullpen stints. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Incomplete Profiles Brett Netzer, 2B Trenton Kemp, OF Kyri Washington, OF Tate Matheny, OF Netzer was the team’s third-round pick out of UNC-Charlotte. He can hit and his swing has natural loft, but there’s very little raw power there. He’ll move onto the main section of the list if he hits well this year. Kemp and Washington have huge raw power but troubling swing-and-miss issues. Matheny has fourth-outfielder tools. Relief Arms Kyle Martin, RHP Austin Maddox, RHP Travis Lakins, RHP Jake Thompson, RHP Devon Fisher, RHP Jordan Weems, RHP Zach Schellenger, RHP Williams Jerez, LHP Martin sits 92-94, touches 96, and has a plus changeup. He was DFA’d last September. Maddox is currently dealing with shoulder trouble, but when healthy he has a mid-90s fastball that will touch 98 and two viable secondaries. He’s a big guy with a heavy, long arm action and he has trouble commanding his offerings. Lakins has a 55 fastball, 60 curve, and 50 change but has trouble staying healthy. Thompson touches 96, has a chance for a 55 or 60 slider and 40 command. He’s a stone-cold middle-relief prospect. Fisher is a converted catcher who has been up to 97. Weems is also a convert with a chance for two 55s in a fastball and change. Schellenger touched 100 in college at Seton Hall but was 91-94 last summer. Jerez throws hard (93-96, t98) but has no clearly viable secondary offering. Rotation Depth/Long Men Chandler Shepherd, RHP Jhonathan Diaz, LHP Hildemaro Requena, RHP Trey Ball, LHP Eduard Bazardo, RHP Diaz has shown a plus curveball and 55 changeup but has fringe velo. Requena is a sinker/curveball/command righty, the type that carves at lower levels. Ball and Shepherd should patch big-league holes when they arise this year. Shepherd touches 96 and has a 55 curveball. Ball is a fringey cutter/curveball guy. Catching Depth Austin Rei, C Roldani Baldwin, C Rei has 50 raw power and a solid approach, as well as a decent chance to catch. Baldwin has 55 raw power and is an okay receiver, but his arm strength and mobility are issues. Projection Bats Antoni Flores, SS Pedro Castellanos, 1B/OF Kervin Suarez, INF Jecorrah Arnold, 3B Lorenzo Cedrola, OF Flores is a typical J2 shortstop prospect with zero present physicality but actions that look right. His physical tools are all 30s and 40s right now and he needs to fill out. You really need to project on Castellanos’s power for him to profile at first or in an outfield corner, but he has the frame for it and has already shown competent pitch selection and bat-to-ball skills in affiliated ball. Cedrola is similar but has 3 power right now. Suarez has good feel to hit from the right side and is probably a utility guy unless he grows into more power than is anticipated given his frame. Arnold has some bat speed and an athletic build. Cistulli’s Guy Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV. Tyler Hill, OF Of the five players in the South Atlantic League last year who recorded a speed score equivalent to or better than Hill’s 7.4 mark, all but one of them recorded a plurality of their defensive starts in center field. Colorado prospect Willie Abreu, the only other hitter to start more often in a corner-outfield spot, did so in deference to Manuel Melendez — that is, one of the other four players with a higher speed score than Hill. The point: on paper, Hill has the sort of speed that tends to profile in center; in reality, however, he seems to lack the requisite instinct for the position. As to how that affects his future value, it’s not great. It also means, however, that Hill possesses more physical talent than the typical fringe prospect. Nor is he “merely” an athlete: Hill’s swinging-strike rate ranked in top quintile among Sally League hitters last year, and he recorded an almost precisely league average isolated-power figure. If this were a former top draft pick, the outcome would be less than ideal. Hill was a 19th-rounder, though, who’s been age appropriate for his levels. System Overview The Red Sox have shown the ability to develop players from within and have six homegrown stars on the big-league roster. (I counted Hanley.) But the farm system, right now, is below average. It’s uneven, at least. There’s plenty of pitching depth in the organization (and plenty of good changeups, a trait pervasive enough throughout the system that I consider it a core developmental competency), but it’s very thin up the middle. It probably won’t be an issue for a while, because the big-league team is so stacked. While the talent in Boston is roughly comparable to what one finds in the Bronx, however, that’s not the case for the players back in Fort Myers and Tampa, where the Yankees have a big advantage. Because the Red Sox are likely to compete, this list is likely to thin out at some point this summer. The glut of upper-level power-hitting first-base prospects is the most obvious source of trade bait.