Top 36 Prospects: Boston Red Sox by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel December 5, 2019 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. All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here. Editor’s Note: Jonathan Arauz was added to this list following his selection by Boston in the Rule 5 Draft. Jeter Downs and Connor Wong were added to this list after they were traded from the Dodgers to the Red Sox as part of the Mookie Betts deal. Brusdar Graterol was removed from this list following the restructuring of the Betts trade that would have sent him to Boston from the Twins. He will appear on the forthcoming Dodgers list. Jhonny Pereda was added to the Others of Note section after he was acquired as the Player To Be Named Later in the Travis Lakins deal. Top Prospects Team Lists 2020 2019 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Red Sox Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Jeter Downs 21.5 AA 2B 2022 50 2 Triston Casas 20.1 A+ 1B 2023 50 3 Bryan Mata 20.8 AA RHP 2021 45+ 4 Bobby Dalbec 24.6 AAA 3B 2020 45 5 Noah Song 22.7 A- RHP 2021 45 6 Gilberto Jimenez 19.6 A- CF 2022 45 7 Matthew Lugo 18.8 A- SS 2024 40+ 8 Cameron Cannon 22.3 A- 3B 2023 40 9 Tanner Houck 23.6 AAA RHP 2020 40 10 Jarren Duran 23.4 AA CF 2022 40 11 Thad Ward 23.1 A+ RHP 2022 40 12 Brayan Bello 20.7 A RHP 2022 40 13 Chih-Jung Liu 20.8 R RHP 2023 40 14 Nick Decker 20.4 A- RF 2023 40 15 Jay Groome 21.5 A LHP 2021 40 16 Connor Wong 23.7 AA C 2021 40 17 Antoni Flores 19.3 A- SS 2023 40 18 Brainer Bonaci 17.6 R SS 2024 40 19 Bryan Gonzalez 18.4 R RF 2024 40 20 Brandon Howlett 20.4 A 3B 2023 40 21 C.J. Chatham 25.1 AAA SS 2020 40 22 Jonathan Arauz 21.5 AA 2B 2020 40 23 Chris Murphy 21.7 A- LHP 2023 35+ 24 Eduardo Lopez 17.8 R CF 2024 35+ 25 Marcus Wilson 23.5 AA CF 2021 35+ 26 Juan Chacon 17.2 R CF 2024 35+ 27 Andrew Politi 23.7 A+ RHP 2022 35+ 28 Durbin Feltman 22.8 AA RHP 2020 35+ 29 Ryan Zeferjahn 21.9 A- RHP 2022 35+ 30 Naysbel Marcano 17.7 R C 2024 35+ 31 Aldo Ramirez 18.8 AAA RHP 2023 35+ 32 Albert Feliz 17.8 R LF 2024 35+ 33 Jorge Rodriguez 19.5 A- LHP 2023 35+ 34 Yoan Aybar 22.6 A+ LHP 2021 35+ 35 Eduardo Vaughan 18.1 R RF 2024 35+ 36 Luis Perales 16.8 R RHP 2025 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 1B 2B SS 3B OF LF CF RF LHP RHP 50 FV Prospects 1. Jeter Downs, 2B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Monsignor Pace HS (FL) (CIN) Age 21.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 50/50 40/50 45/40 40/45 50/50 Downs has been a polished, advanced hitter for his age dating way back to high school. He’s not a shortstop for me and, in my opinion, his thicker lower half means his likely future home is as a shift-aided second baseman at maturity. He’s short back to the ball with some pop, his swing is bottom-hand heavy, which leaves him somewhat vulnerable to velo in on his hands, but he’s selective enough to swing at pitches he can damage. Despite the patience and bat control, I think he ends up with closer to average contact ability but fully actualized power production, a well-rounded offensive package that cleanly profiles at second base. His average exit velo was 88 mph last year, and there’s not a lot of room on the body, so that might be all. 2. Triston Casas, 1B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from American Heritage HS (FL) (BOS) Age 20.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 238 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 65/70 35/60 30/20 45/55 60/60 Casas was one of the more heavily scouted underclassman high school prospects in recent memory, and stood out while hitting in the heart of the lineup for South Florida-powerhouse American Heritage, various Team USA squads, and at travel showcases and tournaments. Some of that success was probably because he was one of the oldest prospects in the 2019 graduating class, which prompted him to accelerate his schooling in 2017 and reclassify for the 2018 draft. Moving up a year made him age-appropriate for a high schooler in their draft year; at 18.4, he was basically average for a prep player. With that early-career acclaim came a change in the way opposing pitchers approached Casas. They began to pitch around him, and scouts often left his games having seen him swing just once or twice because he walked constantly. Luckily Casas had a long track record of hitting in games, had participated in multiple home run derbies during his amateur summers, and posted gaudy exit velocities during team pre-draft workouts, so clubs knew what his offensive potential was. He has good hands and a plus arm that helped him pitch into the low-90’s on the mound, but is a well-below average runner with poor lateral mobility. He played third base after signing, though mostly during instructs, as Casas injured his thumb sliding for a ground ball in June, needed surgery, and barely played during the summer. But expectations are that he’ll move across the diamond to first base in 2019 or 2020, where we think he’ll be quite good. Casas’ calling card is his bat and there’s potential for a 60 hit, 70 game power, 80 raw power kind of package. The margin for error for teenage, first base-only types is very small, but we’re also very high on Casas’ bat. 45+ FV Prospects 3. Bryan Mata, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (BOS) Age 20.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 55/55 50/55 50/55 50/55 40/50 93-96 / 98 It’s fairly important to view Mata’s performance through an age-appropriate lens. The Red Sox hit the accelerator on his development early (a common occurrence in this system) and sent Mata right to full season ball in 2017 when he was just 18-years old. That gives context to Mata’s 2018 struggles; he couldn’t throw strikes (he had a 17% walk rate), his stuff was up and down throughout the year, and he dealt with a back injury. Several of those things improved in 2019. More purposeful deployment of a robust, four-pitch mix dropped Mata’s walk rate to an acceptable 9%, and his stuff was more consistent even though he missed a month with a shoulder strain. And that stuff? A sinker up to 99 (it won’t miss bats, but it’s tough to square up), a two-plane breaking ball that he’ll throw for strike one or as a putaway pitch, a changeup with movement that mirrors the sinker, and a cutter/slider that Mata is still in the early stages of harnessing. Because the fastball is more of a sinker, secondary execution and command will be necessary for him to miss as many bats as possible, and there are forces opposing one another when it comes to projecting his command. On the one hand, he’s only 20 and has huge stuff. On the other, he’s at best a fringe athlete, and has a relieverish delivery. This could break in a number of different ways, but unless Mata keeps getting hurt or his control totally unravels like it did two seasons ago, he’s going to be a core part of a big league staff. For now, we expect that to be in a 120ish inning capacity. 45 FV Prospects 4. Bobby Dalbec, 3B Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Arizona (BOS) Age 24.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/35 70/70 50/55 40/40 50/55 70/70 If we agree that strikeout rates in excess of 33% are a hinderance sufficient to at least limit playing time, if not a roster spot altogether, looking back at how big leaguers hit in the minors can help us sift through current prospects. Here is the list of qualified 2019 big league hitters with the highest strikeout rates in the majors (all between 27% and 32%), along with their strikeout rates at Double-A: Rougie Odor (16%), Domingo Santana (29%), Ryan McMahon (27%), Eugenio Suarez (20%), Franmil Reyes (23%), Luke Voit (15%), Javy Baez (28%), Yoan Moncada (30%), Jackie Bradley (18%), Khris Davis (19%). Most of these players saw a dramatic increase in strikeouts once they got to the big leagues. Those with sky-high Double-A strikeout rates who have gone on to become star big leaguers are all physical freaks, super-human talents; you can include Miguel Sano and Joey Gallo, who were hurt in 2019 and did not qualify for the list, among them. Dalbec, whose struggles with whiffs date back to his days in college, struck out 28% of the time at Double-A. That is a strong indication he will probably strike out a ton, probably too much to be an everyday player. But he does have thunderous, all-fields power and he’s athletic enough to handle third base despite his considerable size. He’s also shown improved patience at the plate. We think all of this will combine to create a viable role player or low-end regular at third base, but we acknowledge there’s risk that the hit tool bottoms out. 5. Noah Song, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Navy (BOS) Age 22.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 50/55 50/55 40/45 40/50 93-95 / 99 It’s fairly common for a prospect’s trade value to be affected by something circumstantial, but Song’s situation is unique. He was clearly a first round talent ahead of last year’s draft, but it was unclear where he’d be picked because of his military commitment. Currently, service academy policy states Song must complete two years of Naval service. The Trump administration repealed an Obama-era rule that allowed athletes to petition for an exemption in order to pursue pro sports or some other activity that might bolster recruitment or the image of the military in general. Whether this rule is reinstated via executive action will have a significant impact on Song’s future. He’ll either enter pro ball full-time soon, and perhaps move quickly thanks to the quality of his stuff, or he’ll be away from baseball for two years and return when he’s nearly 25. Song works fast and throws hard. He was up to 99 during Team USA’s Premier12 scrimmages in Arizona, his slider is plus, and he will mix in the occasional knee-buckling rainbow curveball. He at least profiles in a high-leverage relief role given the current composition of his stuff and control, and perhaps more than that if he’s put into the development pipeline quickly. If not, we can’t anticipate what’ll happen to his stuff because of the layoff. It’s tough to wrangle just how that impacts Song’s standing as a prospect even if it doesn’t impact his talent as currently constituted. 6. Gilberto Jimenez, CF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (BOS) Age 19.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 40/45 20/30 80/80 50/60 60/60 Jimenez is a unique prospect, and the one we had the most trouble nailing down throughout this process. He is a true 80 runner and has a running back build at a physical 5-foot-11, but has little power to his game due to a very simple, opposite-field, slap-oriented approach, especially from the left side. While both swings are concerning for several reasons (bat path, balance, varied lower half use), there is unmistakable feel for contact and impressive hand-eye coordination. Due to the approach and swing, Jimenez’s exit velos are low enough to be in a sort of danger zone, and he’s not physically projectable. Any hope for impact contact has to come from projection on the swing itself, and Jimenez shows more pop in BP and he hasn’t been switch-hitting for very long, so it’s possible. We don’t want to overthink this one, and even though the swing needs polish, this is a plus-plus athlete with what the org thinks is plus-plus makeup, elite speed, and impact defense and arm strength. On top of all this, Jimenez led the college-heavy New York-Penn League in hitting as a 19 year-old primarily hitting left-handed, something he started doing just two years ago in instructional league. He’s also the type of player who we don’t mind projecting on a bit as a premium athlete with premium makeup and adjustability, since he’s more likely to handle failure and change in pro ball better than most. 40+ FV Prospects 7. Matthew Lugo, SS Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Beltran Academy HS (PR) (BOS) Age 18.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 40/50 20/45 55/55 45/50 55/55 Teams were divided on Lugo before the draft, perhaps because he had a slow start to his spring and was a little tougher to see than the typical prospect in the Southeast — scouts had to fly to Puerto Rico the day before and could only get in one game a day while they were there, whereas they could easily have seen five to six quality games if they hung around major metro areas for the same period. As such, if higher ups got a bad look at Lugo early, they likely didn’t go back in. That seems to be what happened here, and explains why Lugo fell past where we anticipated given his skillset and physical projection. Lugo isn’t especially toolsy, but we think he’s likely to stick at short and develop something close to average offensive tools, which gives him a shot to be an everyday player. 40 FV Prospects 8. Cameron Cannon, 3B Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Arizona (BOS) Age 22.3 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 196 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 50/50 30/45 45/40 45/50 50/50 Cannon’s amateur stock was founded on two years of elite statistical performance, including a .390/.480/.640 line as a junior and more walks than strikeouts during the course of his career. He has a surprising amount of power, both for a hitter who played half his games at cavernous Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, and one who has such a conservative-looking swing that lacks explosive involvement of the lower half. Cannon can’t play shortstop, but has a shot to play second or third (some scouts have him in left field). A move will make it more important for the power to play in pro ball, which may require a relatively simple swing change. That didn’t happen immediately after Cannon signed, but it doesn’t have to unless poor performance makes it necessary. 9. Tanner Houck, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Missouri (BOS) Age 23.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 50/50 55/60 45/50 55/60 40/45 91-94 / 96 Houck became famous pretty early in his college career because he was the ace of Team USA as an underclassman, slinging in a sinkering 96 and a plus slider. Scouts who weren’t as enthusiastic about his changeup, or arm slot, or the length of his arm action, or the way his stuff would flatten out and his command would back up later in starts thought he was surely a reliever. The Red Sox had Houck change his delivery and arm action for the first half-dozen or so starts in 2018, focusing on a more traditional four-seam fastball approach. It didn’t work, and Boston let him go back to what he had been doing later in the year; his dominant final two months of 2018 reflect his comfort with this approach. We think Houck’s likely outcome is as a multi-inning power reliever who dominates righties with strikeouts and groundballs, though some see a starter in the mold of Justin Masterson. He can sink it, cut it, his slider is death to righties, and he’ll bully lefties with the fastball enough to get by, just not if they get multiple looks at him. 10. Jarren Duran, CF Video Drafted: 7th Round, 2018 from Long Beach State (BOS) Age 23.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/50 45/45 30/40 70/70 35/45 40/40 The trajectory of Duran’s rise is unique. During collegiate scrimmages in the fall of 2017, scouts saw a big, athletic second baseman who was just okay defensively, had an all-fields line drive approach without much pop, and plus to plus-plus speed. Duran had a fine junior spring, but hit for almost no power (which perhaps should be expected in a pitcher-friendly home park like Blair Field in Long Beach), and slipped to the seventh round as a nearly-22-year-old with a modest statistical track record. After signing, the Red Sox had Duran change his swing a bit in BP to see if they could tap into something more, and he started raking at Low-A. Duran had 13 extra base hits in 253 PA in 2018 for Long Beach State; across two pro levels, he had 28 extra base hits in 302 PA, including 11 triples. Once we got a look at Duran up against elite peers at the Futures Game, and for an extended stretch of the Fall League, it became clear he has poor outfield instincts and likely won’t have the in-game pop he showed early in the year. He can fly and he has relevant contact skills, but no clear position and not enough power to overcome that. His outfield defense has to improve, and even then he’s likely a fourth outfielder or low-end regular. 11. Thad Ward, RHP Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from UCF (BOS) Age 23.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 45/45 50/55 45/45 40/45 50/55 40/50 90-94 / 96 A heavily-used college reliever, Ward was moved to the rotation in pro ball, added a cutter, and raced to Hi-A in his first full season. He may still end up as a reliever, but his athleticism and repertoire depth make it likely to be in a multi-inning role if he can’t be a fourth or fifth starter. 12. Brayan Bello, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (BOS) Age 20.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/50 50/55 40/50 92-95 / 98 It’s pronounced “bey-o” like mayo, not “bell-o” like jello, so we can’t require that you read this blurb with Tracy Morgan’s voice in your head. Bello spent 2018 as a 19-year-old in the DSL, then was skipped over two levels and sent right to full-season ball last year. He ended up throwing nearly twice as many innings as he had the year before, but rather than show fatigue toward the end of the season, Bello actually had his better starts during the second half of the summer. During those he’s bump 98, miss both right- and left-handed bats with his changeup, and flash an occasionally nasty slider. The movement profile on Bello’s fastball is mediocre, but he’s a loose, semi-projectable 20-year-old so more velo might be coming to offset the lack of action. Realistically, this is a backend starter, but there’s more variance because of the chance of a velo uptick. 13. Chih-Jung Liu, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Taiwan (BOS) Age 20.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops 55/60 50/60 40/45 45/55 40/50 93-96 / 98 Liu was one of the surprise prospects to emerge from this year’s J2 class, receiving the Red Sox’s second-highest bonus of this year’s crop ($750,000) after the team saw a handful of shorter relief outings before this fall’s Premier12 tournament. He signed as a 20-year-old out of college in Taiwan; most top Taiwanese talents sign at age 18 out of high school. The Red Sox were on Liu at that age as an infielder, but he took a step forward as a reliever recently, hitting anywhere from 98 to 101 mph depending on whose radar gun you were looking at. Liu is small but very athletic. His slider is above average to plus pretty consistently, while his splitter flashes similarly. He also mixed in a curveball as a fourth pitch. Already 20, and with almost zero track record on the mound other than a handful of innings, Liu is obviously risky but might also just be scratching the surface of something. Boston felt better about his makeup than many teams could have due to their history with him as an infielder, and because they had first-hand locker room dope from Premier12 teammate, and Red Sox infielder, Tzu-Wei Lin. Liu will likely see action in extended spring training and Low-A in 2020. 14. Nick Decker, RF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Seneca HS (NJ) (BOS) Age 20.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 55/60 35/55 50/45 40/50 55/55 It was somewhat important for Decker to come out of the gate fast as a pro because of industry concern over the leap Northeast high school hitters need to make, and Decker was old for his high school class. A wrist injury meant he sat for most of his first pro summer when he would have first been able to get his feet wet against pro pitching, and the leap to the Penn League the next summer proved to be too much; he struck out 30% of the time for Lowell. We’re still on the power, lift in the swing, size, speed underway, and physicality, but Decker needs to hit because he’s a corner-only guy, and he hasn’t done that yet. 15. Jay Groome, LHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Barnegat HS (NJ) (BOS) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 55/65 45/55 40/50 92-94 / 95 As early as his freshman year of high school, Groome was pegged by those who scouted him as a potential high first-round pick. He was graceful, projectable, and already had average big league stuff almost two years before he was even eligible to be drafted. That stuff just kept improving, peaking the summer before his draft year when Groome would work 92-96 mph in short stints with an easy, plus curveball while folding in an average to above changeup, doing so with a big, athletic frame and starter’s delivery, all of which led to him being mentioned as a possible No. 1 overall pick. But a myriad of concerns unrelated to Groome’s talent dogged him more than most prep prospects, most of them stemming from an unstable living situation that involved drugs and guns, for which his father was later arrested. That, combined with a quickly thickening frame and issues with his commitment to Vanderbilt, contributed to his fall out of the top 10 picks of the 2016 draft. Since signing, Groome hasn’t been on the mound much, making just 20 total pro starts due to a back injury and, eventually, Tommy John surgery. He came back from TJ late last August and got four innings of work before instructional league, where he got another eight to 10 frames, working 93-95 two innings at a time. Groome is Rule 5 eligible next winter and he’s never thrown more than 55 innings in any of his four pro seasons. Those two things create some pressure and make it likely that the Red Sox either really need to push him next year, creating more risk that he’ll get hurt yet again, or that he’ll just be bullpen’d to give him a better shot at contributing in 2021. Does he arguably have more upside than all but a handful of others in this org? Sure, but circumstances impacting his development make it highly unlikely he gets there. 16. Connor Wong, C Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Houston (LAD) Age 23.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 50/50 40/45 50/50 45/50 50/50 An athletic, multi-positional player who spent his early college career at shortstop, Wong now sees time behind the plate, as he did throughout most of college, and at second and third base. Like most of the hitters who grew up in the Dodgers org, he hits the ball in the air a lot and strikes out at a concerning rate. That, along with a few defensive flaws that may still be corrected with time, especially as he learns to handle upper-level stuff in the dirt, probably limits Wong to a unique kind of utility role or a backup catcher and infielder role similar to Austin Barnes‘, which is a bit better than just a flat 40 FV prospect. 17. Antoni Flores, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (BOS) Age 19.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 45/55 20/50 50/45 45/55 60/60 Flores was the star of last fall’s instructional league in Florida and looked like a potential everyday player in the Willy Adames mold. He skipped the GCL last year and flopped in the Penn League, his body backed up a little bit, and he generally looked less explosive and twitchy. We shaded his FV down a half grade, and consider it more of a developmental bump than the start of a trend right now. 18. Brainer Bonaci, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (BOS) Age 17.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 140 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 45/50 20/40 55/50 40/50 70/70 Bonaci is the big emerging sleeper on this year’s list. He signed for $290,000 in the 2018 J2 class but has taken a significant step forward since then; team asked the Red Sox for him at the 2019 deadline, as many are covering the DSL with pro scouts now. Bonaci isn’t huge at 5-foot-10 but has some raw power from both sides, including surprisingly high in-game exit velos. He figures to stick at shortstop because of premium arm strength and suitable lateral range. Boston didn’t do traditional instructs during the fall, so Bonaci has still largely only been seen by scouts in the DR, making him a high-priority extended spring training evaluation in 2020. 19. Bryan Gonzalez, RF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (BOS) Age 18.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 50/60 25/55 40/30 35/45 45/45 This is a traditional right field profile, with big power, and a big frame. But Gonzalez also has advanced acumen as a hitter, more than the rest of the deep DSL/GCL group, so he’s currently at the head of that class. He has a long-term shot to be a regular. 20. Brandon Howlett, 3B Drafted: 21th Round, 2018 from George Jenkins HS (FL) (BOS) Age 20.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 55/60 35/50 40/40 40/50 50/50 Howlett was a known prospect in Florida for years and was on a trajectory to go in the top five rounds after a strong start to his spring, but he finished poorly, including a brutal NHSI tournament where all 30 teams had multiple scouts on hand. He swung and missed a ton in front of dozens of high level evaluators, when many had pegged him as the sleeper prospect to break out at the event. The Red Sox found out after signing him that he had an issue with his contacts, giving him particular trouble in day games (which all of the games at NHSI were), and got him squared away before his pro career began. Howlett hit six homers in 43 pro games with a manageable strikeout rate that surprised many amateur scouts who had discounted his hitting ability earlier that year. The bird’s eye view of Howlett is that he’s a stiff righty bat with power, but he’s short to the ball and has a little better feel to hit than most strength-driven mashers. 21. C.J. Chatham, SS Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Florida Atlantic (BOS) Age 25.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 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’s rather lengthy injury history becomes less problematic when you accept that his likely future role is of a part-time, bench variety. He’s a bunch of 45s on offense, he plays a fine shortstop, and last season he started seeing more time at other positions, mostly second base. He played some left field and third base out of necessity in the fall because some of his teammates went home early. He has an outside shot to be Boston’s starting second baseman next year, but we have him projected as a utility man long-term. 22. Jonathan Arauz, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Panama (PHI) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/55 40/45 20/30 45/45 50/55 55/55 This is the only draft-and-stash guy selected in this year’s Rule 5. If Arauz sticks on Boston’s roster it’ll be because he plays a capable middle infield utility role during his first year with the org. The profile for such a role would seem to be here. Arauz’s arm, hands, and actions are all good enough for shortstop, he’s a switch-hitter with good feel for contact, he just lacks typical big league strength and physicality right now. If the bat isn’t getting knocked out of his hands in big league spring training, maybe he’ll stick, but to me the probability is low here. 35+ FV Prospects 23. Chris Murphy, LHP Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from San Diego (BOS) Age 21.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 45/50 50/55 35/40 89-93 / 95 Murphy is a lefty with a changeup up to 96, which might be enough to get him to the big leagues in some capacity. San Diego’s track record of developing pitching isn’t great (a lot of high profile high schoolers have gone there and gotten worse lately), so maybe pro development will unlock something more than the relief projection we currently have on him. 24. Eduardo Lopez, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (BOS) Age 17.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 40/50 20/40 50/55 45/60 50/55 Lopez was Boston’s top 2018 July 2 signee. He’s well-rounded — he lacks a plus tool at the moment — but has the frame to grow into a couple, and the hit tool might get there as well. Right now, his chief skills are his baserunning, defensive instincts, and feel for the strike zone. This is a high probability teenager, if there is such a thing; Lopez’s ceiling will be dictated by how much he hits. 25. Marcus Wilson, CF Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Junipero Serra HS (CA) (ARI) Age 23.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 55/55 40/45 60/60 45/50 50/50 Wilson has some carrying tools. He has grown into power, his swing creates natural lift, which enables it to play in games, and he has plus straightline speed. His feel for contact is very limited, so he exists in that Keon Broxton zone, where clear big league tools often get squeezed off rosters by someone with similar skills who hits left-handed, or boasts some other marginal improvement. 26. Juan Chacon, CF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (BOS) Age 17.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 40/50 20/50 60/55 45/55 50/55 Chacon signed for $900,000 as the top bonus in Boston’s J2 class this summer. He’s a plus runner and center fielder for now, but there’s some expectation that he’ll slide over to right field as he fills out, as his arm is soildly average and may get a bit better. Chacon is a hit-first prospect at this point but there’s projection and some present raw power, so he should be able to profile as an everyday type if he continues developing. 27. Andrew Politi, RHP Drafted: 15th Round, 2018 from Seton Hall (BOS) Age 23.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 191 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 50/55 45/50 40/45 92-95 / 96 A Day Three pick in 2018, Politi pitched well enough out of the bullpen last year that the Sox stretched him out late in the season and gave him a handful of starts. During that stretch he struck out 61 in 47 innings. Politi is deceptive, his fastball has ride at the top of the zone, and he commands his slider and will flash an occasionally good changeup. It’s an interesting package with the arrow pointing up. 28. Durbin Feltman, RHP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from TCU (BOS) Age 22.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/55 40/45 35/40 92-95 / 96 We tabbed Feltman as the player Most Likely to Be First to the Majors from the 2018 draft class. He spent his entire first full pro season at Double-A missing bats but also missing locations — a lot — and his velocity was down a little bit. The fastball still has bat-missing traits, but unless there’s a rebound, Feltman is more likely to be a middle reliever than a late-inning arm. 29. Ryan Zeferjahn, RHP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Kansas (BOS) Age 21.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 216 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 50/60 40/50 35/45 94-96 / 97 Zeferjahn emerged as a Kansas power prep righty in a class with Riley Pint and Joey Wentz, but wasn’t consistent enough in the spring to have his price met. He was mostly the same at Kansas and went in the third round last summer as a power arm with a standout fastball and above average breaker. His delivery and command are still a work in progress, and one Red Sox source called him a ball of clay, with seventh or eighth inning reliever the most likely outcome. 30. Naysbel Marcano, C Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (BOS) Age 17.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 45/50 20/40 20/20 45/55 60/60 Thick but athletic, as long as Marcano keeps his body in check he should remain agile enough to catch and perhaps be quite good back there. Offensively, his present skills indicate future viability, but not impact. He’s on the long-term radar. 31. Aldo Ramirez, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Mexico (BOS) Age 18.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 45/50 45/55 40/50 90-95 / 96 For a long time this system has been lousy with undersized, relatively unprojectable pitchability types, and Ramirez is the strike-thrower du jour. He had a very successful 13-start stretch in the New York-Penn League — 61 innings, 63 punch outs, 16 walks — working off of three pitches. He has a vertical arm slot and hand position that create backspin that will let his fastball play atop the strike zone, though he doesn’t work up there as often as he could. His slider is average but has effective, vertical movement, and he has fairly advanced arm-side changeup feel. An average athlete with a smaller frame, there’s no overt physical projection that allows us to get excited about Ramirez growing into a monster fastball, so instead we think he’s a developmental fifth starter. 32. Albert Feliz, LF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (BOS) Age 17.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 70/80 25/60 30/30 40/45 40/40 Had Feliz been born in the States, he’d probably be playing left tackle on Friday nights. Still relatively crude as a hitter (and we’re always skeptical of physically mature hitters performing in the DSL), Feliz is a leviathan with plus-plus raw power. He’ll likely be limited to left field or first base, especially if he somehow gets bigger, which, combined with relatively raw pitch recognition, makes him a prospect of extreme risk. Ordinarily at this stage, this is just a 35 FV guy for us, but this dude’s size and power at his age is rare, in the Luken Baker/Josh Naylor area. 33. Jorge Rodriguez, LHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Mexico (BOS) Age 19.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/50 45/50 45/55 40/55 89-91 / 93 Rodriguez carved up the GCL — 58 strikeouts, 9 walks, 47 innings — by virtue of both advanced stuff (he already has a quality changeup and curveball) and pitchability. He is sleight of build and doesn’t throw very hard, so there’s not big fastball projection here, but Rodriguez does spin his heater much more than is usual for someone who only throws in the low-90s, so it might be an impact pitch even if he only ends up with average velo. He’s a candidate to begin 2020 in full season ball based on how Boston handles polished teenage arms. 34. Yoan Aybar, LHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (BOS) Age 22.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/60 30/40 93-96 / 98 After four fruitless pro seasons as an outfielder, Aybar moved to the mound in 2018. At times, he is dominant — one source spoke of seeing him strike out four of the six hitters he faced in an outing while breaking the bats of the other two — but he’s not consistent enough to be relied on in a big league bullpen right now. The Red Sox put him on the 40-man, so how he develops during the early part of next year is important. The body, athleticism, arm strength (94-97, up to 100), and fledgling feel for spin are exciting. 35. Eduardo Vaughan, RF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Panama (BOS) Age 18.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ This is a pure athletic/frame projection prospect who has a well-rounded game, including some current feel to hit. Vaughn runs well enough to play center field for now, though his frame is such that we anticipate an eventual move to right. 36. Luis Perales, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (BOS) Age 16.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 168 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Since signing in July, Perales has added 10 pounds of muscle and several ticks to his fastball. He’s now up to 95 and has nascent curveball feel, enough that his early developmental focus is on finding a changeup grip. Perales’ frame lacks overt projection, so the upside is perhaps limited by that, but a bunch of velo has already come on. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Certain Depth Oddanier Mosqueda, LHP Mike Shawaryn, RHP Bobby Poyner, LHP Denyi Reyes, RHP Jhonathan Diaz, LHP Roniel Raudes, RHP Every team needs a ton of pitching depth to get through a season, and these guys all profile as either up and down spot starter types or bullpen pieces who have some holes. Eric really likes how Mosqueda’s stuff works (the fastball has big life) but he doesn’t repeat his delivery. Shawaryn and Poyner are older relievers who’ll both get righties out, Shawaryn because of his slot and slider, Poyner because of the changeup. Reyes, Diaz, and Raudes are all emergency starter types. Thumpers Chad De La Guerra, 2B Nick Northcut, 3B Danny Diaz, 1B Marino Campana, RF Tyler Esplin, RF Joan Martinez, RHP Alex Scherff, RHP These are guys with big raw power who we’re not currently optimistic will hit enough to clear the offensive bar at their likely eventual positions. They need to stay on the radar because of the power, though, just in case. Martinez and Scherff are the pitcher versions of this. They have premium arm strength — Martinez is 94-97 touching 99, Scherff is 92-96 with a good changeup — but relief-only projections, and their fastballs don’t play like you’d expect given the velo. Young Sleepers Ceddanne Rafaela, SS Darel Belen, RF Ricardo Cubillan, SS Wilkelman Gonzalez, RHP Kelvin Diaz, CF Jhostynxon Garcia, RF Any of the guys in this group could have justifiably been included in the main portion of the list. Rafaela has contact skills and can play all over the field. He’s 17, but is only 5-foot-8 and has very little room on the frame. Belen is the opposite. He’s a broad-shouldered power projection bat at 6-foot-4, with average raw, and a plus arm, another right field look. Cubillan was hurt for much of 2019. He’s 21 and plays a good short and has contact skills, but very little power. He might be where Chatham is on the list next year. Gonzalez is 6-foot-3 and has already touched 95 at age 17. Diaz was a shortstop but moved to center field; he’s another wiry frame to keep an eye on in case he grows into impact power. Garcia has similar tools but a slighter build. Backspin Fastballs Brock Bell, RHP Nixson Munoz, LHP Brendan Nail, LHP Eduard Bazardo, RHP Yusniel Padron-Artilles, RHP All of these guys create carry on their fastball because of some combination of arm slot and spin direction. Bell, age 21 (he’s one of Jay Bell’s kids), sits 91-94, and flashes a 55 curveball. Munoz is 19, from Nicaragua, and had a 62-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio in the DSL last year. He sits 86-88 and touches 90, so we’re watching the velo for now. Nail struck out 14.5 per 9 at Lowell and Greenville even though he only sits 89-92, though he’s 24. Bazardo and Padron-Artilles are both a little old for their level, too. Bazardo was 24 and split his year between the Hi-A and Double-A bullpen, touching 94 with a 55 curveball. Padron-Artilles was born in Cuba and drafted late out of Miami Dade College last year. He’s also up to 94 but from a very deceptive, overhand slot. Jhonny Pereda Jhonny Pereda, C Pereda was acquired in late March to complete a January trade for fringe 25-man reliever Travis Lakins (who was atop the “Certain Depth” group in the Others of Note section). He’s a 23-year-old viable defensive catcher with a good approach, and was discussed by some teams as a Rule 5 possibility in 2018 when he was coming off a career year — .272/.347/.363, 10% BB%, 14% K% — at Hi-A. He profiles as a third catcher. Boston’s motley crew, upper-level catching situation — Kevin Plawecki and Christian Vasquez on the 40-man, five non-roster invitees, including recently-acquired Connor Wong and several older guys — gets a little younger. System Overview If you look past the waves cresting near the beach, the ones everyone is availing themselves of right now, and instead gaze out toward the sandbar, you will see them slowly growing, the arches of sea rolling and building toward shore that will soon become the cresting waves everyone can enjoy. That is where this system is right now, after the team successfully traded most of the best guys away in pursuit of a title. Is the system good? No. Craig Edwards’ valuation of the FV tiers is friendlier to top-heavy systems rather than deep ones, and the Red Sox have one top 100 guy in Casas. But it is kind of exciting. Of the 33 names on the main portion of the list, 19 are too young to drink. The 35+ FV tier and honorable mentions are full of projectable young hitters, and just the sheer volume of them means Boston is likely to yield a few good ones even if, individually, they’re all long-shots by virtue of their age and proximity. Development is not linear; Antoni Flores’ last 12 months should serve as a reminder of that fact. With Eddie Romero and Chris Becerra both around, this will likely remain one of the top international programs, and thus, there will be more waves building near the horizon. Chief Baseball Officer (rolls eyes) Chaim Bloom was part of a prospect depth-creating machine in Tampa Bay because the club was great at understanding 40-man timelines, and has a pro department that crushed a bunch of their trades. He can’t take the Rays’ pro department with him, and we don’t know much about Boston’s because they’ve been buyers for so long. It’s harrowing to think that Bloom might consider a Mookie Betts trade based on the opinions of a collection of people he barely knows.