As the postseason continues and we wait for the offseason to really kick off, we’ll continue to look back this week before we start to look forward. For the next few days, we’ll have our eyes on the Red Sox minor-league system, looking back at the year that was for every team in the system. To do so, we’ll look at notable players from each level and dividing them into good, bad and other. Creative, I know! To avoid repeats, players will be included on the team with whom they spent the most time. For example, Josh Ockimey will be discussed along with the rest of the Salem Red Sox despite him finishing the year in Portland. Today, we’ll focus on the Triple-A PawSox.
Brentz was the MVP of the PawSox this year and was the most notable snub among those who did not receive a September call-up. His power from the right side is legitimate, and he’s going to get a chance in the majors in 2018 whether it be for the Red Sox or someone else.
Many stopped paying attention to Castillo since it seemed impossible that he’d be back in the majors. However, he put up a strong season in 2017 with an .857 OPS and solid defense in the outfield, opening up an outside chance he could find himself back in the majors next year. It’s still not something I’d bet on, but it’s much more of a possibility than it’s been since he was initially demoted.
Velazquez was a major unknown heading into the season, but he impressed in Triple-A to the tune of a 2.21 ERA over 19 starts. That, of course, earned him a role and a few spot starts on the major-league roster and should make him a viable major-league candidate in 2018.
Like Velazquez, Johnson had a strong year in the Pawtucket rotation and earned himself some spot starts in the majors. We’ve seen this kind of production from Johnson before, but unfortunately some bad luck injuries held him back as has happened so many times over his career. He’s now out of options, and while he’ll certainly latch on somewhere the Red Sox may not have the room on their roster to keep Johnson around.
Like Workman, Haley spent much of his year on an active roster. The difference is that Haley was in Minnesota after the Twins selected him in the Rule 5 draft. They sent him back to Boston in August and Haley was placed back in Pawtucket’s rotation and picked up right where he left off. If he sticks around through the Rule 5 draft this year, he could represent some intriguing rotation depth.
Olmos isn’t really a household name, but the lefty looked really solid in spring training and then went out and posted a 2.68 ERA while throwing out of the rotation and the bullpen. He may not be back in the Red Sox organization next year, but he did well enough to have a legitimate chance to make it out of spring training for some team in 2018.
Coming into the season, Sam Travis was seen as the hopeful first baseman of the future and his strong spring training didn’t do much to stop that. Unfortunately, he didn’t really put up that kind of performance at all this year, either in the majors or at Triple-A. With Pawtucket he posted an OPS of just .726, and while he was able to get on base plenty he continued to show off power that just isn’t good enough for his position.
Swihart started the year in Triple-A mostly out of necessity, since he was the only catcher on the roster with options. It was assumed he’d eventually work his way to the majors and into a starting role. That...didn’t happen. Largely, but not entirely, due to a hand injury, this was a mostly lost season for Swihart that ended with him getting more work at positions other than catcher. It sure seems like he could be a trade candidate this winter.
Selsky was brought in this offseason for some desperately needed outfield depth, but he didn’t come close to working out. He posted an OPS of just .630 at Triple-A and was outrighted off the 40-man roster in September.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Owens, once a top prospect in the organization, has seen his career stall out over the last couple of years and 2017 was a new low point. He completely lost his control and was eventually demoted to Double-A. Things didn’t go much better there. It’s hard to see what the next step could possibly be for Owens, who is currently struggling in the Arizona Fall League, too.
Kendrick was never expected to do much, except then he had a strong spring training. That led to some absurd expectations for him to maybe be an actual major-league pitcher. He got a couple spot starts that went horribly but mostly spent the year being bad in Pawtucket.
Remember Allen Craig? This past year was his final in the Red Sox organization. We made it, folks.
There was some hope that Martin, who was added to the 40-man to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, would establish himself as a legitimate major-league option in 2017. Instead, he posted a 4.36 ERA with unimpressive peripherals.
Shepherd is another guy who impressed in spring training but didn’t get another chance after that. However, unlike Martin, he has a chance to redeem himself in 2018. His 4.08 ERA wasn’t great, but his 68 strikeouts to 18 walks in 59 innings is much more encouraging.
Tavarez missed a lot of time with injury this year, but there is still some potential for him to be a bench outfielder in the future. He’s running out of time to show that, so 2018 will be a big one for Tavarez.
Beeks is the most intriguing name in this section, though he wasn’t exactly great with Pawtucket. Although he showed flashes, he finished with a 3.86 ERA in 17 starts in Triple-A. It should be noted that he was much better in Double-A and all scouting reports from his season were positive. He’s going to be in the mix for spot starts in the majors next year.
Ramirez is possibly the most boring up-and-down reliever imaginable, but he fills a role and is solid enough. The righty can get some strikeouts and prevents runs in Triple-A. It’s not clear he can translate that to the majors, but he performs well enough in the minors that he’ll get a few more chances in multiple organizations.