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 Low-A Greenville Drive.
Mata was arguably the highlight of what was a solid year for the Greenville Drive. Although his final numbers weren’t great, he was among the biggest breakout prospects in the farm system. At just 18 years old, the righty didn’t appear intimidated at all in his first year stateside as a pro. One would think he’ll be in Salem next year as a 19 year old, and he has a chance to make a real jump in organizational — and possibly league-wide — prospect rankings next year.
There may not be a more underrated prospect in Boston’s farm system than Baldwin, who put together a strong season at the plate while playing the most rigorous position on the diamond. He spent all year in Greenville, posting an .800 OPS, and should be in Salem next year. Baldwin represents the
best second-best chance at a catching prospect in the system after international signee Daniel Flores.
I struggled a bit with where to put Hill, but decided to put him here despite him not being a star-level prospect. There was a question of how sustainable his performance in Lowell was in 2016, but he came back strong in 2017 by posting a .732 OPS. There’s not a ton of power here, but he more than makes up for that with his speed, an attribute that led to 42 stolen bases on the year. Like the others here, he’ll be in High-A next year.
It was a strange year for Gonzalez, who bounced around between Low- and High-A as well as between the rotation and the bullpen. He pitched well with whatever role he was thrown into, though, posting a 2.78 ERA over the entire season across both levels. He’s earned a full season at High-A next year with a chance at ending 2018 in Portland.
Groome is Boston’s top pitching prospects and one of the most talented young pitchers in baseball, but his 2017 could have gone better. A lot of that was due to injury, and his first full season in the organization only included eleven starts on the year. In that time, he put up a rough 6.70 ERA. His season wasn’t as bad as that would suggest, but he showed flashes of brilliance over the season. Hopefully, he’ll stay productive and on the mound in 2018.
Dalbec was one of the most exciting prospects in the system heading into the year, and while some of the shine has come off this year he still showed real flashes. The power is still there, but there is a lot of swing and miss that will be exploited at higher levels if an adjustment isn’t there. The potential is still there for another breakout in 2018, and he could be a fast riser if he stays on the field.
Cedrola is far from a finished product, but he stayed productive and in full-season ball all year and is one of my personal favorites in the system. He is a good athlete and he stole 19 bases in 92 games. There’s not a ton of power in his bat, but he can hit enough singles and doubles and play good enough defense to profile as a potential big leaguer.
Hernandez was the standout in Greenville’s rotation for the first part of the year until Mata showed up. There were some inconsistencies over the course of the season, but that’s to be expected in a pitcher’s first full season. Hernandez is certainly someone to keep an eye on in 2018.