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 Double-A Portland SeaDogs.
We’ll remember 2017 as the year Devers made his major-league debut and helped lead the Red Sox to a division title, but it all started in Portland. He made the jump to Double-A as a 20-year-old and was unfazed by the significant jump in talent. It was a sure sign of things to come.
No Red Sox prospect saw their stock rise quite like Chavis, who hit Baseball America’s Top 100 list. He showed off legitimate power in both Salem and Portland, and though he struggled at times in Double-A he was plenty good enough that he’ll be the most exciting position player prospect to watch next year.
Chavis was the biggest breakout of Red Sox prospects, but Lin may be the biggest surprise. A longtime glove-only player in Boston’s system, the infielder started to hit like crazy in Portland and never really stopped, eventually getting a chance (and impressing) in the bigs. Lin has showed that he is a capable major-league backup.
Barfield isn’t someone we discussed much this year, but the minor-league veteran was a stud for the SeaDogs this year, posting a .944 OPS after coming aboard of a midseason addition out of the Indy Leagues. He’s already agreed to return to the organization next year, and he’ll almost certainly spend it in Pawtucket.
Poyner has never really reached top prospect status, but he is coming off an incredible year in Portland. After a strong start to the season in Salem, he moved up to Double-A and posted a 0.94 ERA over 38 innings with 52 strikeouts. It seems likely he’ll be in Pawtucket next year.
Tobias was the return in the Clay Buchholz trade from last winter, and while his age and track record didn’t suggest any reason to get too excited, there was reason for some optimism. After a strong start in Salem, though, Tobias struggled for the majority of the season in Portland and probably doesn’t have much of a future in the organization.
On the one hand, this was probably the best season for Ball, a former seventh overall pick, at least in terms of peripherals. On the other hand, that still entailed a 5.27 ERA over 25 outings (24 starts). It’s gotta be time to think about moving him to the bullpen.
Stankiewicz was the team’s second pick in that same draft as Ball, and he has also been a mild disappointment. There are flashes with the righty, but he finished with a 5.03 ERA and he’s another guy who should be tried in the bullpen.
Mars isn’t a future superstar, but he had something of a breakout season in Double-A, or at least showed that he could have a future as a major-league outfielder. There isn’t any power to speak of, which would probably keep him out of a starting role, but he’s a good athlete, a good defensive player and hits line drives all over the field. He finished the year with a .754 OPS.
There may not be a more confusing player in the Red Sox farm system than Cosart. He has a ton of talent in his arm and when you see him on one of his good days you can become an instant believer. In 2016, he had a lot more good days than bad days, which was particularly encouraging in his first year as a reliever. He wasn’t quite as impressive in 2017, walking 41 batters in 49 innings. I’d argue his command won’t ever be good enough for a long-term major-league role, but I’ve also really only seen him on his bad days.
This was something of a breakout year for Buttrey, who had failed as a starter but looks like he has some potential out of the bullpen. He and some consistency issues in 2017, and particularly struggled when he was promoted to Pawtucket, but in Portland he had a 56/23 K/BB in 46 innings of work.
Olt was an interesting pickup last spring as a depth option at third base, though it turned out he was never a serious option. Still, he had a solid year in Portland with a .768 OPS. Someone will give him a chance in Triple-A in 2018.
Jerez, the former outfielder-turned-pitcher, was added to the 40-man prior to the 2016 season to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, but he struggled mightily that season. He came back strong in 2017, though, with a 3.16 ERA and 47 strikeouts from the left side in 51 innings. He should get a chance in Pawtucket next year.