Evaluating the Prospects: Boston Red Sox

Evaluating The Prospects: RangersRockiesDiamondbacksTwinsAstrosRed Sox & Cubs

Scouting Explained: Introduction, Hitting Pt 1 Pt 2 Pt 3 Pt 4 Pt 5 Pt 6

The Red Sox have the deepest list yet in this series, to go with plenty of top-end talent as well.  Be sure to read the Eduardo Rodriguez report to see more about the decision the Red Sox had to make on the trade deadline, which I and other clubs found pretty interesting.  It’s a testament to amateur scouting and development to have so many top picks (8-14 on the list are all Red Sox 1st rounders) and high international bonuses all show up on the list, without many busts. You can fault Boston for relying too much on young players in 2014, but indications are they are about to spend a bunch of money this offseason and they have among the best groups of young talent in the game.

Here’s the primer for the series and a disclaimer about how we don’t really know anything.  See the links above for the ongoing series about how I evaluate, including a five-part on the ever-complicated hit tool.

Most of what you need to know for this list is at the above links, but I should add that the risk ratings are relative to their position, so average (3) risk for a pitcher is riskier than average risk (3) for a hitter, due injury/attrition being more common. I’d also take a 60 Future Value hitter over a 60 FV pitcher for the same reasons. Also, risk encompasses a dozen different things and I mention the important components of it for each player in the report.  The upside line for hitters is the realistic best-case scenario (in general, a notch better than the projected tools) and the Future Value encompasses this upside along with the risk rating for one overall rating number.

Below, I’ve included a quick ranking of the growth assets that Boston has in the majors that aren’t eligible for the list and Dave Cameron shares some general thoughts on the organization. Scroll further down to see Carson Cistulli’s fringe prospect favorite. The next team up in the series, working from the bottom of the standings on up, is the Chicago Cubs.

Big League Growth Assets
1. Mookie Betts, 2B/CF, Age 22
2. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Age 22
3. Christian Vazquez, C, Age 24
4 .Jackie Bradley Jr., CF, Age 24
5. Allen Webster, RHP, Age 24
6. Rubby De La Rosa, RHP, Age 25

Organizational Overview by Dave Cameron

The Red Sox have been on a roller coaster over the last few years, sandwiching two last-place finishes around a World Series title. From here, though, 2015 looks like it should bring a strong rebound, as the team has positioned themselves to be hyper-aggressive in player acquisition this winter. Their significant financial resources, combined with an enviable depth of valuable trade chips, give the Red Sox the ability to add multiple impact pieces this winter.

With most of the roster projecting to improve on mediocre 2014 performances, adding in a few more established stars should be enough to return the Red Sox to the top of the hill, and as long as they don’t overreact to the struggles of a few key young players, they should maintain a strong base of talent to build around for the foreseeable future.

50+ FV Prospects


Video Credit to Sox Prospects

1. Blake Swihart, C
Current Level/Age: AA/22.5, 6’1/185, B/R
Drafted: 26th overall (1st round) in 2011 out of New Mexico HS by BOS for $2.5 million bonus
Hit: 30/55, Raw Power: 50/50+, Game Power: 30/50, Run: 45/45+, Field: 45/50+, Throw: 60/60

Scouting Report: Swihart was seen as an amateur as an offense-first catcher that probably would have to move to a corner position once he got to the upper levels of the minors.  Swihart became the one of the few prep prospects with big questions about his defense to make steady progress to be at least an average defender with a plus arm, with some scouts going higher on both grades.

Swihart’s pop times will get as low at 1.78 in games and play often in the 1.8’s (1.90 is a 60 time assumed with his 60 arm) due to his quick release.  His defense is solid-average for most scouts and a few pointed out that he’s closer to Christian Vazquez defensively than people think.  Swihart has added 5-7 lbs. of muscle each year since siging and he now projects for 15-20 homers at maturity, with a high average and medium OBP.

Summation: Swihart takes a little time at each level to adjust, being that he has to maintain a swing from both sides of the plate and continue to refine his catching. The Red Sox expect him to spend most of the year in AAA this year, but labeled him the only untouchable player in the system, so they won’t hesitate to give their catcher-of-the-future a chance if he’s ready.

Upside: .280/.340/.440, 15-20 homers, above average defense
FV/Risk: 60, Low (2 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AAA/MLB, 2016: MLB

 


2. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
Current Level/Age: AA/21.5, 6’2/200, L/L
Signed: International Free Agent, signed for $175,000 out of Venezuela on 1/28/10
Fastball: 60/65, Slider: 50/55, Changeup: 50/60, Command: 45/50

Scouting Report: Rodriguez was acquired from the Orioles at the trade deadline for lefty reliever Andrew Miller and a couple sources suggested the Red Sox had their choice of Rodriguez or three pitchers from the Tigers in exchange for Miller. Two of those offered pitchers appear to be the two that Detroit sent to Texas for reliever Joakim Soria: RHP’s Jake Thompson (55 FV, #3 prospect) and Corey Knebel (50 FV, #11 prospect and injured shortly after the trade) both highly ranked on my recent Rangers prospect list. It seems Boston’s decision was a classic quality over quantity and, so far, it looks like they chose right.

Rodriguez was a projection lefty with inconsistent but above average stuff his whole career; he sat 90-93 and would hit 95 mph with a slider and changeup that would both flash above average at times.  A couple months into the season, the projectable lefty’s velocity spiked, sitting 93-96 mph with his slider and changeup both flashing plus.  The slider and changeup never flashed plus in the same game, but the changeup got higher peak grades (one scout put a 70 on it), so both of those pitch grades could be conservative.

Summation: I was conservative on the off-speed pitch grades because even Red Sox people weren’t positive they’re going to see 93-96 mph heat from Rodriguez next season. There’s not reason for it to go away but velocity is often easy come, easy go; the broad base of pitches is what they bough and the velo spike was a bonus.

FV/Role/Risk: 60, #3 starter, Medium (3 on 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AAA/MLB, 2016: MLB

 


3. Henry Owens, LHP
Current Level/Age: AAA/22.2, 6’6/205, L/L
Drafted: 36th overall (sandwich round) in 2011 out of California HS by BOS for $1.55 million bonus
Fastball: 50/55, Curveball: 45/50+, Changeup: 55/60, Command: 45/50

Scouting Report: Owens was a projection lefty starter out of high school with advanced feel to pitch and a good changeup; he’s continued to improve and still has plenty of projection to go.  Owens sits 90-92 with good deception, extension, command and movement, hitting as high as 95 mph at times.  His curveball is solid-average and his plus changeup also draws grades as high as 70 from some scouts.

Owens is still a long, lanky type arm that sometimes has trouble corralling his limbs to repeat his delivery and should also throw a tick or two harder.  Bigger pitchers take longer to completely grow into their bodies and deliveries and the fact that Owens can pitch now with advanced feel is a great indicator.  All four of the grades above could be a notch light since Owens still has projection left, I just chose to not project too much on a kid that’s already 22 years old.

Summation: There’s a split camp among scouts that saw Owens and saw the new version of Rodriguez late.  Rodriguez has better stuff, but not a long track record of having that type of stuff while Owens has gotten swings and misses with this kind of stuff and delivery for years.  Owens will start the year in AAA and will come up when there’s an opening in the rotation, which could take awhile.

FV/Role/Risk: 60, #3 starter, Low (2 on 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AAA/MLB, 2016: MLB

 


Video Credit to The Boston Globe

4. Rusney Castillo, CF
Current Level/Age: MLB/27.1, 5’8/186, R/R
Signed: International Free Agent, signed for 7 years, $72.5 million out of Cuba on 8/23/14
Hit: 40/50, Game Power: 45/50+, Raw Power: 60/60, Speed: 65/65, Field: 50/55, Throw: 50/50+

Scouting Report: The most important thing for Castillo are the hit and game power grades, but there’s a lot of uncertainty amongst scouts on those grades as he hasn’t played many pro games in the last couple years.  He can take wild cuts in batting practice to show his raw pull power and, like some Cuban defectors before him, changed his body composition a good bit with a new training regimen leading up to his big payday.

Since signing and playing for Red Sox affiliates for the last month or so, Castillo has been showing a more controlled BP with opposite field pop and has been surprisingly solid at the plate. The expectations are something around average hit/power tools (.260 to .270 and 15-20 homers) but this is a volatile enough situation that both tools could be below average or above average in the short term (and the long-term, too).  Castillo’s game swing is more line-drive and all fields oriented than the swing he uses to showcase his plus raw power, so it remains to be seen if he can find the best of both swings.

The surprising thing from Castillo’s pre-signing workouts was that his added muscle didn’t cost him any speed.  He’s not polished in the outfield, but should be able to stick in center with some work.  Some teams were interested in trying him at second base, but the Red Sox will not be trying that, for a number of reasons.  Castillo’s timed speed is a 70 in a straight line, but plays down a bit on the bases, especially when he take a big cut.

Summation: The Sox are still unsure about Castillo defensively and, given the presence of Betts, don’t know yet if Castillo will play center field or right field next year.  He should be at least average in center next year, but Betts may be a tick or two better, so the assumption is Castillo would be above average on the corner, but no one’s seen enough to be sure about that.  Castillo is in the AFL now and will go to the Puerto Rican Winter League soon, in hopes that these at bats plus Spring Training will be enough to skip the minors in 2015.

Upside: .280/.340/.460, 20 homers, average CF defense
FV/Risk: 55, Low (2 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: MLB

 


Video Credit to Christopher Blessing

5. Manuel Margot, CF
Current Level/Age: High-A/20.0, 5’11/170, R/R
Signed: International Free Agent, signed for $800,000 out of Dominican Republic on 7/2/11
Hit: 20/55, Raw Power: 50/50+, Game Power: 20/45, Run: 65/65, Field: 60/65, Throw: 50/50

Scouting Report: Margot was another recent, premium July 2nd signee for the Red Sox that has gone swimmingly so far, along with Devers below.  Margot has game-changing easy plus speed and defense to go with surprising raw power for his size and an advanced bat.  Margot has above average bat speed and bat control to go with a simple, line-drive, gap-to-gap approach that takes advantage of his speed with lots of doubles and triples.

He probably won’t tap into all of his raw power in games, but should still get 12-15 homers annually at maturity. Margot wore down a bit down the stretch this year and his raw power and arm strength were a tick lower for some scouts.  His advanced jumps and instincts in center field could eventually make him a 70 defender.

Summation: Margot is basically a coin flip with Devers just below him right now, with most scouts that have seen them both grouping them together. Speed and defense type prospects typically get shortchanged relative to similar prospects that are mostly bat and power, but Margot’s full-season debut was so impressive that I’ll go with the speed and defense here.

Upside: .285/.350/.440, 12-15 homers, plus-plus defense and base running
FV/Risk: 55, Medium (3 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: High-A, 2016: AA, 2017: AAA/MLB

 


6. Rafael Devers, 3B
Current Level/Age: RK/18.0, 6’0/195, L/R
Signed: International Free Agent, signed for $1.5 million out of Dominican Republic on 8/9/13
Hit: 20/55, Raw Power: 55/60, Game Power: 20/55, Run: 40/40, Field: 40/50, Throw: 55/55

Scouting Report: Devers has an unusual frame for a top July 2nd prospect, as that market is all about potential and, typically, the most projectable, long, lean frames.  Devers stood out from a young age due to his advanced approach, precocious raw power and loose, handsy, all-fields left-handed swing.  He’s dropped some bad weight since his amateur days and is still adding some strength and maturing.  I’m projecting above average hit and power tools and I almost called them both plus with no full-season at-bats under his belt.

There’s some aggressiveness to his approach as he’s still one of those very gifted hitters that can hit almost any pitch he’s currently facing, though that will be changing in the coming years, so he’ll need to adjust. His bat path can also get a little uphill and/or long at times, but Devers is one of the rare hitters (as you can see from the video above) that’s hitting bombs to the opposite field in games, so you don’t want to pick him apart or change his swing unless he starts failing.  I often talk about how scouts and analysts agree that opposite field game power at a young age is one of the best indicators of a prospect that has a good chance to become an elite big league bat; Devers has all the makings.

Defensively, Devers has solid hands and an above average arm but just okay lateral quickness and he’s a 40 runner.  It’s still way too early to eliminate him from being a future third baseman and most think he sticks there, as he’s improved a good bit since signing.

Summation: The only real question raised about Devers other than competition level is if he will work hard enough to reach his upside; his body is higher maintenance and some similar body types before him have gone south quickly. If Devers can stay on the straight and narrow, he could be at the top of this list and possibly as soon as next year.

Upside: .285/.370/.470, 20-25 homers, average defense
FV/Risk: 55, High (4 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: Low-A, 2016: High-A, 2017: AA, 2018: AAA/MLB

 


7. Garin Cecchini, 3B
Current Level/Age: MLB/23.5, 6’3/220, L/R
Drafted: 143rd overall (4th round) in 2010 out of Louisiana HS by BOS for $1.31 million bonus
Hit: 30/60, Raw Power: 50/50, Game Power: 30/45+, Run: 40/40, Field: 45/45+, Throw: 50/50

Scouting Report: Cecchini was signed out of a powerhouse high school as a bat-first prospect with great feel to hit, but a corner fit defensively.  Fast forward five years, Cecchini is on the verge of the big leagues and that’s exactly what he is.  Cecchini has the hands and arm strength to play third but his accuracy can waver and his footwork isn’t always on point, but most scouts think he will be basically average defensively in the end.

He’s a 40 runner but has excellent instincts that play up on the bases and allow him to steal some bags on less experienced batteries.  Scouts think he’ll eventually grow into a 15 homer threat with lots of doubles, but the carrying tool here is clearly the bat.  His smooth, low-effort left-handed swing has been consistent level-t0-level and will make him a lot of money.

Summation: Cecchini was good in a limited big league look in 2014 and should split time between Pawtucket and Boston next year depending on how the front office juggles all the hitters on the roster this offseason.

Upside: .280/.350/.440, 15 homers, average defense
FV/Risk: 50, Very Low (1 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AAA/MLB, 2016: MLB

 


8. Brian Johnson, LHP
Current Level/Age: AA/23.9, 6’3/225, L/L
Drafted: 31st overall (1st round) in 2012 out of Florida by BOS for $1.575 million bonus
Fastball: 50/55, Curveball: 50/50, Changeup: 50/55, Command: 50/55

Scouting Report: Like Cecchini, Johnson isn’t a real exciting prospect, but he’s also near big league ready with lots of average or better tools and a good sense of how to make the most of them. Johnson was a two-way prospect in college as a lefty-hitting first baseman with above average raw power. He isn’t especially loose or athletic in his delivery, but he makes it work and some scouts have put 60 command grades on him.

Johnson sits 90-91 and hits 94 mph with plus life and command; he works off of this fastball with an average to above curveball and changeup, with the changeup drawing plus grades from some scouts. Some scouts commented that Johnson was still flinching on the mound in 2013 after being hit in the face with a line drive in 2012, but that appears to be behind him now.

Summation:  Johnson will start the year in AAA and could come up during the season, but will be behind a few arms behind what will likely be a deep Red Sox pitching staff.

FV/Role/Risk: 50, #4 starter, Low (2 on 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AAA 2016: MLB

 

45 FV Prospects

9. Matt Barnes, RHP Video: Barnes is a former 1st rounder that sits 93-96 mph and is basically big league ready with an average curveball and changeup that both flash better at times.  The issues is that his command is still below average, which makes him more of a late-inning reliever or erratic back-end starter.

10. Deven Marrero, SS Video: Marrero is another former first rounder that is an 70 defender at shortstop and played half of last season in AAA, but he needs another season of polish to try to develop the bat further.  He’s probably always an 8 or 9-hole hitter, but could still be one of the top 30 overall shortstops in the world.

11. Michael Chavis, 3B Video: Chavis was the Red Sox first 2014 first rounder and the stout third baseman has a plus arm and surprising above average speed that could allow him to play second base. His calling card is his plus raw power and if he can tone down his busy swing to let his natural bat control take over, he could shoot up this list. Chavis was universally praised as one of the top performers at instructs.

12. Michael Kopech, RHP Video: Kopech was the Red Sox other 2014 first rounder and, while he’s more raw than Chavis, the upside is even higher.  He sits 92-97 mph as a starter and was another hit of instructs, sitting 95-98 mph with plus life in short stints; one scout mentioned Kevin Brown for the fastball and delivery. Kopech has cleaned up his delivery some since last summer’s showcase circuit and adopted a hard slider that’s plus at times to go with a changeup that flashes average or better, but his long limbs still cause command issues. One Red Sox source said some in the org have Kopech in their top 5, though others have him lower than I do.

13. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP Video: Ranausdo was yet another former first rounder and while the 6’7/230 monster has cleaned up his delivery some and still flashed a plus fastball-curveball combo, the changeup and command still lag behind, making a relief fit likely.

14. Trey Ball, LHP Video: The last in a seven prospect run of first round picks, Ball was a surprise pick at 7th overall last year for an under slot bonus (multiple sources have told me the Sox really wanted 3B Colin Moran and were surprised Miami took him one pick ahead of them).  Ball is basically a Henry Owens starter kit; he sits at 90, hits 94 mph and should add a tick or two as the 6’5/175 former two-way prospect adds strength and innings. His curveball was fringy this year but showed improvement late while his changeup was above average and the frame, athleticism and plane give you plenty of reason to dream.

15. Sam Travis, 1B Video: Travis was the 2014 2nd rounder out of Indiana and is a solid righty-hitting first base prospect with plus power and enough bat to give him a 50 right now, maybe a 55 down the road.  Red Sox sources raved about him at instructs, as Travis, Devers and Chavis were the big standout bats.

16. Sean Coyle, 3B Video: Coyle still plays mostly second base but started played third base last season and that may be his best fit defensively in the big leagues. He draws lazy Pedroia comps for his raw power, size (5’8/175) and position, but Coyle is more of a (55) power over (45) hit guy that fits best as a low-end starter or very valuable utility guy.

17. Wendell Rijo, 2B Video: Rijo is an aggressive hitter and his advanced feel to square it up bails him out, though he’ll need to tone down the approach at the upper levels. His solid-average power, fringy speed and average defense profile well at second base.

18. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP Video: Stankiewicz was the pick of a couple Red Sox sources for most likely to make the big leagues of the lower minors prospects. The 6’4/200 righty has just an okay arm action, but has advanced command or solid-average stuff and hits 95 at times; he projects as a back-end starter or possibly a setup guy if the command backs up or the stuff plays up in short stints. I should note that every time I say his name out loud, this song pops in my head.

 

40 FV Prospects

19. Javier Guerra, SS Video: The prospect that’s garnered the most “you have to move him up the list” comments was Guerra; I still might have him a few spots too low. He’s only 5’11/155 and a 45 runner, but there’s an easy plus arm and he’s already drawing plus-plus defensive grades as a 19-year-old in Rookie ball. There could be 10-15 homer power down the road and he has some bat speed and feel to hit; right now the offensive upside is higher than Marrero, a similar prospect.

20. Anderson Espinoza, RHP Video: The Venezuelan righty was the Red Sox top signing from this July 2nd is a 6’0/170 righty, signing for $1.8 million. Boston knows as much as anyone how risky it is giving that much money to smaller, 16-year-old righty, but they and other clubs are all in on this kid. He has an athletic delivery, should add more muscle and already sits 89-92, hitting 94 mph with an above average curveball, good feel for a a changeup and advanced feel to command and sequence.

21. Bryce Brentz, LF Video: Brentz has easy plus raw power from the right side and is a solid athlete, but it doesn’t translate to defense, where his fringy arm limits him to left field. There’s some holes, lots of swing and miss and trouble with spin from right-handed pitchers, but also 20-25 homer power with a floor of a solid platoon bat.

22. Travis Shaw, 1B Video: Shaw has been consistently underrated and has now hit well in AAA, prompting some scout to throw their hands up and say they missed on this guy. There isn’t much raw power to the point that one scout said James Loney is a best case scenario, but Shaw is also passable at third base. Another scout suggested this type of talent won’t get to play much in Boston and is destined to be dealt at the deadline for a role player, then have some solid seasons on a bad club.

23. Henry Ramos, RF Video: A leg injury shortened Ramos’ 2014 season but the switch-hitting right fielder is healthy now; all five tools are average or close to it and he looks like a solid 4th outfielder than can play center field if needed.

24. Edwin Escobar, LHP Video: Acquired at the deadline in the Jake Peavy trade, Escobar is a solid lefty with some funk, but even with a cup of coffee under his belt, it’s unclear what his big league role will be.  He sits 90-92 and can hit 95 mph (but not command at 95 mph) with a tough above average changeup and touch below average curveball; it’s probably a multi-inning reliever and spot starter, but could still be a #5 starter.

25. Drake Britton, LHP  Video: Britton is a little tough to rank here as a guy with big league team that’s out of options with well-documented off-the-field issues, but he’s a power reliever with a plus fastball and only 27.2 MLB innings. He sits 92-95 mph with a power slider (and a lesser used curveball and changeup from his starting days) but also some command issues.

26. Cody Kukuk, LHP Video: The 6’4/200 lefty has lots of command issues but has a fastball-slider-changeup mix with all three pitches 55 or 60. Multiple scouts suggested the Red Sox move him to the bullpen, where he’d likely sit in the mid-90’s and could simplify his approach, but Boston will keep him as a starter for now.  There’s some whispers about makeup issues, but it appears to be mostly immaturity off the field with no problems at the park.

27. Simon Mercedes, RHP: The 6’4/200 righty is a bit of an enigma; he was a plus fastball-curveball type raw arm, but a finger issue gave him trouble throwing the bender and now his changeup has emerged as the better pitch. He sits 93-95, has hit 99 mph and likely fits in the bullpen with average to above curveball and changeup that vary by the day.

28. Heath Hembree, RHP Video: Hembree came over with Escobar in the Peavy deal and is also a reliever that’s a little hard to get excited about.  He sits 91-95 mph with an above average slider and fringy command, fitting in the 6th or 7th inning depending on when you saw him, since the stuff can vary.

29. Jason Garcia, RHP: Garcia was the revelation of instructs; the righty sat 91-95 as a starter in 2013 in Low-A, had Tommy John surgery, returned late in 2014 and hit 97 mph, then sat 96-99 and hit 100 mph in instructs.  His slider is very inconsistent and ranges from 45 to 60 depending on the day and, typically, feel for a breaking ball takes a little time to come back after elbow surgery. The command is 45 to fringy, so there’s enough for late innings if the breaking ball comes along.

30. Luis Diaz, RHP Video: Diaz sits 90-94 and hits 95 mph with some sink, scrapped his curveball this year for a slider that’s average at times to go with an average changeup. At 6’3/210, 22 years old and a solid AA season behind him, Diaz isn’t super exciting, but there’s a lot to like and some big league value, possibly as a #5 starter.

31. Carlos Asuaje, 2B Video: Asuaje is 5’9/160 and went to DII Nova Southeatern in south Florida, but was seen plenty by scouts as he was a solid player the summer before going in teh 11th round in 2013 in the Cape Cod League.  Scouts counted Asuaje out due to his size and lack of tools, but he raked through both A-Ball levels at age 22, with a career minor league line of .300/.386/.490 and 15 homers in 2014 in 559 plate appearances. It’s fringy raw power, average bat speed, fringy foot speed, a 45 arm and 50 defense at second base, but Asuaje has tons of feel to hit and pick the times to tap into his power with his short stroke.  The bat control, feel to hit, instincts and makeup are the separators (that everyone knew about but didn’t appreciate as an amateur) and you kind of have to give Asuaje a big league bench grade now.

 

Cistulli’s Guy

Reed Gragnani, 2B

Gragnani was actually invoked within these pages back in August of 2010 — on the occasion of a trip by the author (i.e. Carson Cistulli) and former FanGraphs contributor Jack Moore to a Northwoods League game in Madison, Wisconsin. Gragnani had produced among the best walk-to-strikeout ratios of the players involved in that contest between Madison’s Mallards and the Eau Claire Express*. Selected out of the University of Virginia in the 21st round of the 2013 draft, Gragnani has exhibited almost precisely the same profile as a professional, as well, recording walk and strikeout rates of 14.8% and 11.8%, respectively, this season as a 23-year-old in the High-A Carolina League. His considerable lack of power on contact — in addition to his inability to play shortstop — renders his ceiling rather low in terms of win-production. His ability to make contact, however, and play multiple positions acceptably well also makes him a candidate to serve as a dependable major-league utility man — a decidedly positive outcome, that, relative to the draft slot.

Here’s footage from 2014 of Gragnani singling over the shortstop’s head, something which his profile suggests he does often:

Gragnani 1
*Of note: the other most impressive players from that game — athletic outfielder Kyle Gaedele, hard-throwing right-hander J.R. Graham, and diminutive catcher Rafael Lopez — have all experienced some measure of success in the minor leagues, the last of those players (Lopez) making his major-league debut with the Cubs in September. An argument for the quality of Northwoods baseball, that.

 

Others Of Note

Among the bats, RF Nick Longhi (Video) was a near miss; he has advanced feel to hit and enough arm for right, though he may end up at first base and his raw power is just average. CF Danny Mars was a 6th rounder in June that’s a plus runner with good feel to hit, SS Mauricio Dubon wasn’t a high profile prep prospect but can stick at shortstop, has some projection and has shown promis with the bat while RF Jeff Driskel is the 6’4/235 super athletic quarterback of the Gators that is Red Sox property; scouts still say he’s the best baseball prospect at the University of Florida.

RHP Kevin McAvoy (Video) was the 4th rounder of the Red Sox in June has a solid-average three pitch mix that could profile as a back-end starter. RHP Pat Light was a top 50 pick that flashes and above average fastball and slider and has great makeup, but the command and consistency aren’t there yet for the 6’6/215 righty.  RHP Steven Wright is a knuckleballer that has had a mixed minor league career, but was better in AAA this season and punctuated it with a strong 21-inning big league look in September; I won’t act like I have any idea what happens next, but it will involve good hair. Other domestic arms to keep an eye on: RHP Justin Haley (average-ish four pitch mix could end up a #5 starter or swing man), RHP Myles Smith (athletic, up to 96 with above average changeup but real delivery/command issues),  Ty Buttrey (Video 6’5/205, 90-93, hits 95 mph with above average stuff but some injuries and command issues), Jake Cosart (Video brother of Jarred Cosart is 91-95, hitting 98 mph, is a plus runner with a live body that’s new to pitching but already shows an above average curveball, too.).

I’ve got four international bats worth watching: SS Tzu-Wei Lin ($2.05 million bonus to Taiwanese prospect was biggest ever from his country, plus defender/runner with good swing but needs better approach ), CF Yoan Aybar (plus runner, projectable, loose athlete with all kinds of ceiling but some rawness), CF Alexander Basabe (has twin brother Alejandro in the system, Alexander is more advanced and just turned 18, has easy plus arm, some pop and is center/right field tweener fit) and 3B Elwin Tejeda (Video signed for $300,000 this past July 2nd, has projectable frame, steady glove, line drive bat and great makeup)

There’s all kinds of Latin arms worth mentioning, so I’ll run thru them quickly: RHP Jose Almonte (89-92 mph, good athlete, 55 changeup, 6’3/160 and projectable), RHP Chris Acosta (recent July 2nd signing for $1.5 million, big 6’4 kid works 87-92 with heavy life, hard slider and good feel), LHP Jhonathan Diaz (87-90 mph with three pitch mix has good feel, just turned 18), RHP Jeffry Fernandez (6’3/180 and 21 coming off of TJ but into mid 90’s with three average or better pitches, little feel), LHP Javier Rodriguez (88-91, touches 93 mph with feel for three pitch mix), RHP Gerson Bautista (top arm in the DSL sits 92-94 and hits 96 mph, has projection and makings of power slider), RHP Dalier Hinojosa (28 year old Cuban was solid in AAA in first pro season, has solid average stuff, advanced feel, hit 96 mph late in season and best pitch is a 55 splitter), RHP Sergio Gomez (rail thin righty has plus changeup and good delivery but needs to put on weight to add a few ticks to his high-80’s fastball), LHP Enmanuel De Jesus (6’3 and projectable with smooth delivery, 87-91 mph now but 17-year-old could pop in GCL in 2015).

 



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Kiley McDaniel has worked in the scouting departments of the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates and has written for ESPN, among other outlets. Follow him on twitter for real-time thoughts on the players he’s seeing and hacky attempts at humor.


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LaLoosh
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

that’s a lot of depth. could easily make the case for it being a top 5 system right now (and I guess I need to mention that I’m not a Sox fan).

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 7 months ago

I’m just as amazed (as a Red Sox fan). I was very happy to have gotten Escobar in the Peavy deal, but to look here and see him at #24, that’s just enviable depth.

LeeTro
Member
Member
LeeTro
1 year 7 months ago

Wow, that’s a huge drop for Escobar. I realize it wasn’t your list, but Hulet had him as a 60 FV before this season. He did not have a good year, but that is a long way to drop in a short amount of time, considering he didn’t have any injuries or wildness problems.

However, I can’t imagine trying to do all these reports in such a short amount of time. This series has been tremendous.

Frame man
Guest
Frame man
1 year 7 months ago

He has ridiculous platoon splits, he got hammered by right handers this year, they OPS’d more than twice what left handers did (.475 v LHB and .960 v RHB)… if he can add a cutter or something to get righties out, I have faith he can still be a mid rotation starter… if not, he could be an elite LOOGY I guess.

Carson Cyst-Stooly
Guest
Carson Cyst-Stooly
1 year 7 months ago

As a Jays fan:

Fuck

Jose
Guest
Jose
1 year 7 months ago

I’ll take it in the rump for my beloved Sox, but seems like most of our prospects outside of Betts have been more hype than reality lately.

s
Guest
s
1 year 7 months ago

Most prospects bust, especially those with high k% (WMB) or college players succeeding at lower levels (JBJ). JBJ still profiles as a 4th outfielder/2nd division starter. Bogaerts is still just 22 and far from a bust. The players currently near the top of this list all grade out to much higher ceilings than the past prospect crops, so even with the busts sprinkled in there should be some very good players emerging from this list (Devers and Rodriguez given ages at level stand out, with Swihart the other given).

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Yeah. Having been on the Mookie train for over a year now, I’d still take Bogaerts over him.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 7 months ago

Ditto. He and Mookie both have the broad skill sets that would keep them from being busts, but Bogaerts has a superior upside, maybe a poor man’s Cal Ripken. Mookie really looks like he’s Pedroia’s brother from a different mother.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 7 months ago

I’m thinking Hanley without the SBs. He’s got a chance to be a superstar.

(I say, very dejectedly.)

s
Guest
s
1 year 7 months ago

I wouldn’t part with either. I would say Bogaerts’ absolute ceiling is higher than Betts’ absolute ceiling, but would add Betts’ chances of reaching that ceiling are higher than Bogaerts’, and both absolute ceilings are very high. (Tulo/Rendon would be two modern comps I would be comfortable making as absolute ceilings). Betts’ batted ball skills are absolutely elite, and have been at every level even when he ‘struggled’ in low A/rookie league.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 7 months ago

And based upon how well he adapted to playing the OF for the first time, I’d try Mookie at 3B for 2015, if for nothing else just to keep his bat in the lineup while filling the team’s biggest hole. This is under the assumption that they are using some combo of Castillo/JBJ/Victorino/Craig to cover CF and RF.

The Hanley without SBs comp for Bogaerts is a pretty good one too. I think his glove will eventually peak somewhere above Hanley but below Ripken – so maybe Tulo with less glove.

Henry
Guest
Henry
1 year 7 months ago

I think the Red Sox have BY FAR the best farm in the majors.

LaLoosh
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

well, was about to suggest the top tier as the Cubs, Sox, Twins, Bucs, Stros and Rangers in no particular order. And the next tier probably consists of the Fish, Dodgers, Pads, Mets, M’s, Cards, DBacks & Yanks also in no particular order.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 7 months ago

Sounds about right to me. I mean, even if you add Mookie back to the “farm” category, the Cubs got a slew of guys in his general tier (Bryant, Soler, Baez, etc.) who I’d put ahead of the Swihart tier. The top of the Cubs class is just plain loaded.

s
Guest
s
1 year 7 months ago

I agree on system but I wouldn’t include Baez. He has a very high bust rate with that k% and k-bb%. 23.5/28.8/30.0 k% high A/AA/AAA and k-bb%>20.

Matthew
Member
Member
1 year 7 months ago

I think the Red Sox lack “high impact” talent, but have a treasure chest of role players. If you were making a top 100 list, I think maybe 2-3 guys in the top 50 maybe 5-6 in the top 100. There isn’t a star close, but a lot of solid major league talent. A lot of their high upside guys are several years away. Their system isn’t flashy, but incredibly solid. I’m not counting Castillo and I think Kiley shouldn’t either.

I’d probably take a systems in this order: Twins,Cubs,Dodgers,Rockies,Pirates,Astros,Rangers Tier 2:Padres,Red Sox,Mets(even more young arms!)and Nationals.

I think the Padres and Red Sox are VERY close with Hedges/Wisler/Fried lining up very closely to Swihart/Owens/Rodriguez.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Yeah. I’d definitely take the Cubs, Stros, Dodgers and Twins over the Sox, just because they’re sexier, but this is a scary-deep, Cardinals-esque system right now.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 7 months ago

Agree with putting Castillo on the list for now. He could end up spending most of the year in AAA like Alex Guerrero did for the Dodgers.

RobM
Guest
RobM
1 year 7 months ago

He should be included. I view it the same way with players like Jose Abreu and Tanaka being included on prospect lists and being eligible for Rookie of the Year.

MLB is the highest league in the world. All other professional leagues are lower, so anyone entering the majors should be evaluated where they rate as a prospect, and they certainly should be eligible to win Rookie of the Year honors.

Matthew
Member
Member
1 year 7 months ago

Yeah thank Kiley and everyone on the feedback. I agree Castillo is technically a prospect, but the team has made it pretty clear with money and action that he will start next year with little doubt. I completely understand, but I would rank him on the Red Sox list, but not on the Org. Rankings. I probably wouldn’t count Baez or Alcantara, but I am not counting them either.,

I think prospects gain or lose SIGNIFICANT affect value based even on minor league performance which nearly all prospects are based on.

I appreciate the work Kiley. I’ll buy you the supreme Boloco if you are ever in Boston area.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Boloco?!!!!!

That is heresy, sir.

I’m afraid I am obligated to report your crime to the Church of Anna’s.

rlwhite
Member
rlwhite
1 year 7 months ago

I saw Greenville, Boston’s low A team, several times this summer.

I expected Tzu-Wei Lin to be a defense-first, no bat SS. I was impressed to see more bat than I expected: good swing, average eye (he’s a little aggressive, but he never looked foolish), 55-60 speed, might have gap power down the road.

I had high expectations for Margot given the hype I’d read, but he merely held his own in the games I saw, seemed average in most aspects. He’s young for the league, so he could still blow up.

I saw Ball in early and mid July, and he was sitting 88-90 with a straight fastball, didn’t throw his change until the 3rd or 4th inning, and didn’t throw a breaking ball at all. Absolutely shelled. I’ve read that he improved significantly in the weeks after that.

Frame man
Guest
Frame man
1 year 7 months ago

Margot is very streaky with the bat it seems, you may have seen him in May/July when he OPS’d .641 and .661 respectively? Overall, he had a great season for a teenager in full season ball, most of which came on the back of a scorching final month (which included the promotion), where he hit .396/.431/.632 with 15 XBH and 24 RBIs

Shaun
Guest
Shaun
1 year 7 months ago

What would your write-up of Jackie Bradley Jr. look like? Is it time to reassess? Should we chalk his big league performance up to youth? Is a a realistic assessment something in between?

everdiso
Member
everdiso
1 year 7 months ago

don’t you guys ever start feeling bad for convincing Red Sox fans their prospects are better than they are? every year you’re telling them the next pedroia/lester/papelbon group is coming up even though its been a near decade since anything like that has happened.

you figure last year’s prospecting disaster, at both MLB and AAA levels, would have humbled the red sox system praising a bit but it looks like it hasn’t. you guys convinced red sox fans that a slew of overage AAA pitches with 2.5pitches and mediocre command was a wealth of pitching depth. that guys with middling track records like bradley and cecchini were on the verge of being impact players.

and now their #1 prospect is a catcher with questionable defensive skills, mediocre peripherals, who faceplanted in AAA. their #2 prospect is a 2.5 pitch pitcher with mediocre command and a mediocre at best overall line in AA. their #4 prospect is 28yrs old.

stop teasing the poor red sox fans just to get yourselves more hits. it’s just plain mean.

jpg
Guest
jpg
1 year 7 months ago

You mean like the way AA and the Blue Jays have faceplanted the last couple of years? BTW, is it really you this time, or one of your imposters?

Jim Leyritz Elbow Protector
Guest
Jim Leyritz Elbow Protector
1 year 7 months ago

Blake Swihart has questionable defensive skills? That’s an interesting take there, guy. Did you read that on Bleacher Report, or did you give it the old eye test?

John Daker
Guest
John Daker
1 year 7 months ago

What happened to E-Rod in the last month of the season? As an O’s fan, I follow their system pretty closely and never saw a stretch from him where he looked that dominant… Given the recent success of failed O’s starters in other orgs (Arrieta being the most obvious example) I’m worried that this is just the old Angelos-era tradition of squandering young pitching talent… Or is the E-Rod thing just a result of better BABIP and strand luck?

bososx13
Guest
bososx13
1 year 7 months ago

he was hurt by bad BABIP luck and terrible defense, also sequencing and strand rate. His peripherals were good in Bowie

Rico Brogna
Guest
Rico Brogna
1 year 7 months ago

Kiley– So is Devers stress fracture of no real concern? I know very little about this injury.

everdiso
Guest
everdiso
1 year 7 months ago

What a joke of a system. Swihart, their #1 porspect looks like a poor-man’s JP Arrencibia. All those trades (Leaster, Peavy, Lackey, Miller) netted nothing for the farm system other than 3 relievers.

With the industry basically universally consigning Bogaerts to bust status, terrible performances from Vazquez, Webster, and De La Rosa, and Betts not showing anything of value, it could be a long next few years in Boston.

Izzy
Guest
Izzy
1 year 7 months ago

I’ve never seen anyone talk out of their own ass with such conviction before.

80raw
Guest
80raw
1 year 7 months ago

I am truly terrified of what a poor man’s J.P. Arencibia looks like

John Daker
Guest
John Daker
1 year 7 months ago

I feel bad replying to this because I know you’re just trolling, but I think the “poor man’s JP Arencibia” comment deserves its own article… Specifically, what would such a player look like and what would it take for him to accrue nearly 1500 PAs over the 1st 5 years of his career (like Arencibia)? All of the league’s current catchers would have to suffer catastrophic injuries or something

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 7 months ago

He’d probably look like this guy + a little power – a little defense:

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1000867&position=C

ian
Guest
ian
1 year 7 months ago

This would be some excellent trolling, but the Betts thing kind of gives you away.

Eric M. Van
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

In aWAR (average fWAR and bWAR) per game, Betts had the 13th best rookie season in MLB history, ages 21 and younger. Guys after him in the top 30 include Ruth, Hornsby, DiMaggio, Morgan, and Mays. The 19 retired players in the top 30 have an average 1.53 and median 1.39 in my empirically derived HOF metric (aWAR5 + 1/2 career aWAR, with all sorts of adjustments), where 1.0 = the historical pre-expansion bar for induction.

Oh, and Vazquez’s “terrible” performance ranked 8th in WAR/inning for catchers when pitch framing was included. He’s very likely the best defensive player in baseball.

Eric M. Van
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Phenomenal job, and I especially appreciate the details about where scouts differ.

The one thing I’m fuzzy about is the translation from hitter slash lines to FV. One of three things is happening: I’m wrong about the relationship between upside and FV, the slash lines are inflated because they don’t take into consideration the recent decline in offense, or the hitter FVs are all too low for the same reason. If very-low-risk Cecchini had a .350 OBP / .440 SA this year, that would have made him the 6th best-hitting 3B in MLB, ahead of Frazier, Valbuena, Carpenter, Sandoval, and Longoria. With average defense, that’s not a low-end starter. But that slash line would have ranked about 14th five years ago, and would be something like .335 / .415 today.

KyleL
Guest
KyleL
1 year 7 months ago

A couple of, relatively minor, things. 1) is there something about Barnes’ control that doesn’t show up in his walk rate? Because he’s never had a real problem with walks (control withing the zone maybe?), and 2) I’ve always heard that Brentz’s arm is plus (and I’m certainly no scout, but I saw some pretty outstanding throws from him in Portland).

Dwhennessy
Guest
Dwhennessy
1 year 3 months ago

Can we get a FV grade on the major league growth assets?

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