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2017 Red Sox top prospect voting: Can Jake Cosart keep succeeding out of the ‘pen?

Jake Cosart looked like a new guy in the bullpen last year. Can he keep it up in 2017?

Kelly O’Connor;

Relievers are inherently less valuable than starters. No one will disagree with this. However, they do carry some value, and high-end ones can be big-time weapons. Just look at Andrew Miller. I say this because Jake Cosart has been voted as the number 15 prospect in the farm system despite being a reliever who hasn’t pitched above Salem. It’s sure to be a controversial selection, but it was made with him getting 25 percent of the vote.

Cosart was Boston’s third round pick back in 2014 out of Seminole State College in Florida. When he was selected, he was seen as a high-risk, high-reward prospect who wasn’t guaranteed to stay in the rotation but also had a chance to be something special. He started his pro career in the GCL and showed off his big-time stuff as well as his lack of command. Despite a nice 2.25 ERA, he didn’t show enough to get a full-season promotion for 2015 and he spent that entire season in Lowell. It was there that I saw him a couple of times, and the numbers reflected what I saw. He pitched to a 5.45 ERA with a 27/20 K/BB ratio in 33 innings. His fastball was electric, but he had no idea where his secondaries were going.

After that, the team decided his future was in the bullpen and that’s where he spent the entirety of 2016. He spent most of the year in Low-A Greenville and was outstanding at the level. He threw 52 23 innings over 29 appearances out of the bullpen with a 2.05 ERA and a 76/25 K/BB ratio. He even made the SALLY League All-Star Game. He pitched well enough to earn himself a late-season promotion to High-A Salem. In 18 innings across eight appearances at the level he pitched to a 1.00 ERA with a 28/11 K/BB ratio.

As I alluded to above, everything works around the fastball for Cosart. The pitch will sit in the mid-90’s, but he can reach high-90’s velocity when he really reaches back. Obviously, that’s something he can do in shorter stints. He does need to work on the command and control of the pitch, as he still has a tendency to get wild, but that’s less of a concern in a relief role. To complement the pitch he offers a curveball and changeup. The curve has it’s moments, and when it’s right it has sharp break right out of the zone. He just needs more consistency with it. His changeup doesn’t have the same kind of potential, and can likely be mostly ditched as he continues to progress as a reliever.

After ending last season in Salem, it’s very likely that the 23-year-old will start 2017 there as well. He’s not really refined enough to warrant a super-aggressive approach, particularly as he only has one year of relief experience. However, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he reaches Portland by midseason, and from there anyone’s path can be accelerated.

  1. Andrew Benintendi
  2. Rafael Devers
  3. Jason Groome
  4. Sam Travis
  5. Bobby Dalbec
  6. Brian Johnson
  7. Marco Hernandez
  8. Roniel Raudes
  9. Michael Chavis
  10. C.J. Chatham
  11. Josh Ockimey
  12. Nick Longhi
  13. Travis Lakins
  14. Mike Shawaryn
  15. Jake Cosart

As always, you can continue voting for our top prospects below as we reach the final quarter of the rankings.