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2017 Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: Roniel Raudes is on the map, now he looks to stay there

Roniel Raudes rides his impressive full-season debut to a top-ten spot in the farm system.

Kelly O’Connor;

After trading away Anderson Espinoza, the farm system was said to be bereft of young pitching talent outside of Jason Groome. Roniel Raudes may not have the upside of Espinoza, but he’s good enough to come in as our number eight prospect in the farm system. He took 41 percent of the vote.

Raudes representing an exciting young pitching talent like Espinoza isn’t the only thing those two have in common. The two were both signed during the same international signing period as well. Although Raudes wasn’t as hyped as Espinoza (or Christopher Acosta, for that matter) during that signing period, he was still a significant signee who received a $250,000 signing bonus.

The young Nicaraguan made his professional debut in 2015, splitting his time between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. Most of his appearances came in the former, although he did make four starts stateside at the end of the year. It was a strong season overall for the righty, as he pitched to a 2.81 ERA with 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings and just 1.1 walks per nine. Oddly enough, his results were better in the GCL but his peripherals were better in DSL. Oh, and all of this came as a 17-year-old.

That performance was strong enough to convince the Red Sox Raudes could skip the New York Penn League, despite his young age, and they sent him to full-season Greenville as an 18-year-old. For much of the year, he was overshadowed by Espinoza, but he quietly made a name for himself over the course of the 2016 season. His ERA wasn’t one that will jump off the page — he finished with a 3.65 mark — but when you consider his age it’s still mighty impressive. On top of that, his peripherals back up what the scouts saw as he struck out over eight batter per nine while walking just under two.

A theme of this post has been Raudes’ many connections to Espinoza, but they separate in a big way when you get to the scouting side of things. Whereas Espinoza has his huge ceiling that is buoyed by his monstrous stuff, Raudes relies more on finesse and command. With a fastball that sits in the high-80’s and tops out around 92, this isn’t your traditional high-ceiling 18-year-old. Instead, he supports his fastball with strong curveball that has the potential to be a plus pitch and a changeup that could be at least average. Christopher Crawford, who publishes his top-20 for every team each year in his prospect guides (which are a great deal and you should buy), is the highest I’ve seen on Raudes. He rates the righty as the fourth-best prospect in Boston’s system and raves about his feel for pitching. According to Crawford, Raudes should see an increase in fastball velocity and has a floor almost as high as Espinoza even if his ceiling doesn’t match.

Looking ahead to 2017, Raudes is one of the most interesting prospects to keep an eye on this summer. He has a unique profile for a prospect of his age, and it’s one that will either shine through against more advanced opponents or will come crashing down in a hurry. He’ll start next year — his age-19 season — in Salem, and will likely spend the entire season there.

Here is our full list thus far

  1. Andrew Benintendi
  2. Rafael Devers
  3. Jason Groome
  4. Sam Travis
  5. Bobby Dalbec
  6. Brian Johnson
  7. Marco Hernandez
  8. Roniel Raudes

As always, you can vote for the next player in the poll below.