As we get closer and closer to the start of the season, I’ll be spending the next few days looking at the expected rosters for each full-season minor-league club in the Red Sox organization. Today, we’ll head down to Salem, Virginia. For reference, I’m using the projected rosters provided by the team at Sox Prospects.
Like with Greenville below them, this is a less talented Salem Red Sox team than we’ve seen in the past. Obviously, that’s a theme throughout the system. Unlike Greenville, the talent is relatively spread out on this roster, with the slight edge likely going to the lineup over the rotation. Personally, I’m extra intrigued by the bullpen arms here, but I’ll get to them later.
This team doesn’t have one of the elite prospects who have appeared in any top-100 lists, but it does have Bobby Dalbec. The former college pitcher-turned-professional third baseman has huge upside if he can build upon his professional debut. If he can keep his strikeout rate down to a manageable level, don’t be surprised if Dalbec and his huge raw power show up on more offseason top prospect lists heading into the 2018 season. There’s no guarantee he’ll be in Salem, since he spent all of last season in Lowell and this assignment would involve skipping Greenville. However, he’s a college draftee who dominated in short-season ball, so the aggressive placement wouldn’t be unheard of.
There are a few interesting names to choose from here, but I’m going to go with Josh Tobias. He was, of course, the meager return from the Clay Buchholz deal, and he’s thought of as more of a throw-in in a deal that was designed to get the pitcher’s salary off Boston’s books. He did hit well at Low-A last season before struggling a bit in a late-season promotion to High-A. Tobias can play both third base and second base, and leans on his hit tool at the plate. Even if he’s not a high-ceiling player, the Red Sox liked something about him to take him back in that deal with Philadelphia. We’ve seen a similar type of move pay dividends with Marco Hernandez, so there’s precedent here as well.
- Austin Rei was supposed to be a sneakily effective third round pick, but he’s struggled mightily as a pro thus far. Even his defense was bad in Lowell (which I can attest to), but reports say it improved last year in Greenville. Either the bat or the glove needs to come around this year, which is a big season for his career trajectory.
- Josh Ockimey is the second-most exciting player on the roster, as he’ll look to build upon the first half he put together with Greenville last season. The big-time power is there, and it’s all about whether or not his hit tool can play highly enough to show off his muscle.
- Kyri Washington is the other main player I considered for the “Sleeper” section. Washington finally started to show off some of his power potential in Greenville last season, and if he can start to develop a more refined approach at the plate you can expect to see him in Portland by year’s end and approaching the team’s top ten prospects next winter.
- Michael Chavis is one of the more disappointing players in the system, as he’s never been able to build upon his promise as a first round pick. Now 21 years old, it’s a make or break year for Chavis and his bat. He’ll likely split time at the hot corner if Dalbec does indeed start the year in Salem, with Chavis probably getting the bulk of the time at DH.
- Roniel Raudes is an interesting type of pitcher, as he doesn’t have the big-time stuff you’d expect from a well-regarded prospect but he has pitching instincts well beyond his years. The 19-year-old will be one of the younger arms at this level and will look to build upon his breakout 2016 in Greenville.
- Travis Lakins is another guy nearing make-it-or-break-it time, as he hasn’t yet put together a consistent or healthy season. He has the stuff to make it work, it’s just a matter of putting it all together for more than a month at a time
- Marc Brakeman is a former Cape Cod League star who had his first full season in the pros in 2016 and split time between the rotation and bullpen. He’ll likely go down that road again, but he has the potential to be a real weapon out of the bullpen if he reaches his full potential.
- Jake Cosart might be the player in the system I’m most interested in following this year, which is largely due to my love of relievers. His stuff is electric, but he was awful as a starter. I saw him multiple times in Lowell and each time thought, “This is one of the worst pitchers I’ve ever seen.” Obviously, the move to the bullpen worked wonders in 2016, and this year will be about proving it wasn’t a fluke.
- Austin Glorius is another part of this intriguing bullpen in Salem, as he made waves by striking out over 12 batters per nine innings as a starter in Lowell after signing from Indy Ball. He could use some work on his secondaries, but his huge fastball that plays up in short stints could cause him to rise quickly through the system.
- Stephen Nogosek has two above-average pitches in his fastball and slider along with a violent delivery that screams future reliever. It’s not as exciting as a future starter, of course, but Nogosek was pointed to as a potential breakout by Baseball America and it’s easy to see why.