With the holiday season in full-swing and the New Year right around the corner, we still wait for the Red Sox to make any sort of change to their roster in advance of the 2018 season. While we wait, though, we can take solace in the fact that we are firmly in prospect season and top ten lists for teams around the league are going to start to trickle out and will continue to do so for the next couple of months. The Red Sox just had their first list released of the season, with Baseball America doing the honors. You can see their full write-ups here, but here’s a quick look at what Alex Speier and BA view as Boston’s top ten prospect list.
- Jason Groome, LHP
- Michael Chavis, 3B/1B
- Tanner Houck, RHP
- Bryan Mata, RHP
- Cole Brannen, CF
- Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP
- Sam Travis, 1B
- Mike Shawaryn, RHP
- Alex Scherff, RHP
- Marco Hernandez, 2B
So, there are a few things about this list and the system in general that stand out to me, and we’ll go straight down the list with some observations. There won’t be much debate over the top two spots, and while I suppose I could see some ranking Chavis ahead of Groome based on recent track record and proximity to the majors, this one-two order seems nearly certain to be unanimous around the prospect writer landscape.
Meanwhile, the next tier comes in at three and four, and I could see this flipping around on various lists. BA picks the upside of Houck over the track record of Mata. Both players are young and at least a couple years away from the majors, but both could be part of the same rotation this year and will be natural comparisons as long as they are in this organization. Houck’s risk of landing in the bullpen combined with Mata’s performance in full-season ball this year will lead some to put the latter over the former, but if Houck can remain in the rotation he’s the more talented pitcher. This tier also included Daniel Flores at one point before the catching prospect tragically passed away earlier this winter.
The five-six pairing was the most surprising of the entire list to me as both are higher than I was expecting to see. Brannen rounds out the top five despite just being selected in the second round this past summer and putting up fine but unspectacular numbers in his first professional season. That being said, the tools are there and as BA points out he is the best chance the Red Sox have at having a top prospect at an up-the-middle position. Hernandez, meanwhile, was quietly very strong in his first full season in the minors. It’s all about the fastball for the southpaw, and BA points out that the dominance of that pitch may have hindered the development of his secondaries. There’s a chance he’s a long-term reliever, but BA at least is a believer in the potential for a mid-rotation arm.
Finally, there is an interesting mix in the last four spots on this list. I’d expect to see Travis a couple spots higher on most lists this winter, though on my own personal list I probably wouldn’t even have him in the top ten. BA still believes there is some power to be tapped into, but acknowledges he is running out of time to show it. Shawaryn, meanwhile, is not someone they seem overly excited about though they do see some potential for an innings-eating number four starter. While not thrilling, that’s a valuable piece. Scherff, meanwhile, hasn’t pitched at all as a pro but has big-time potential and could be one of the biggest risers in the system. Finally, there is Hernandez, who I forgot was even still prospect-eligible. I’m a bigger Hernandez fan than most, though I agree with BA’s assessment that he’s either a second-division second baseman or a good utility man.
Be sure to check out Baseball America’s post for more in-depth scouting reports on each of these top ten prospects as well as the top tools throughout Boston’s farm system.