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2017 Red Sox top prospect voting: Trey Ball’s last chance

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Can Trey Ball finally make good on at least some of his potential?

Kelly O’Connor; https://sittingstill.smugmug.com/

Well, based on the comment sections on the posts leading up to this entry, this is going to be something of a controversial pick. Despite his current capital-B Bust status, Trey Ball comes in as our number 17 prospect. He took 20 percent of the vote.

By now, Ball’s origin story with the organization is pretty well known. A tall, lanky, projectable lefty coming out of high school, he was selected with the number seven overall pick in the 2013 draft. This was supposed to be the team’s reward for suffering through the Bobby V year, but it hasn’t worked out that way. To make matters even worse, it was seen as something of a reach at the time, and guys like Austin Meadows who were speculated at that spot have thrived since the draft.

Either way, the Red Sox ended up with Ball and their first decision was whether or not to make him a pitcher or a hitter, as he did both in high school. Obviously, they opted to put him on the mound. He tossed seven innings over five outings in the GCL to start his pro career, and while he had a rough 5/6 K/BB ratio, it wasn’t super concerning. The real first test would come in 2014 when he started the year at Greenville. Unfortunately, things didn’t go well there, either. He pitched to a 4.68 ERA at Low-A. No worries, he’s still young and getting used to full seasons. Let’s see how he’ll do in High-A in 2015 and....oh. It didn’t get much better, as he posted a 4.73 ERA that year. It wasn’t just the ERA’s that were discouraging, either. Ball didn’t have impressive strikeout stuff — striking out around six batters per nine between the two seasons — or control — walking around four per nine.

To make up for the struggles, the Red Sox were hoping that repeating High-A Salem would help kickstart his 2016 and hopefully earn the southpaw a promotion to Portland at some point in the year. It wasn’t ideal, but it was only Ball’s age-22 season, so it wasn’t a massive concern. Of course, even that didn’t work out. His 3.84 ERA looks a little better, but he only saw a marginal improvement with the strikeouts (6.6 K/9) and starting walking over five batters per nine. In short, he’s still moving in the opposite direction. He also worked out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League, but had similarly discouraging results.

The thing about Ball that is so frustrating is that once in awhile you will see what made him so intriguing in the first place. His fastball typically sits in the low-90’s, but he can get it up to the mid-90’s at times. With a little bit of late life when it’s going well, the fastball can be a money pitch. The issue, as is usually the case with frustrating arms, is that it lacks any semblance of command. He also has a changeup that flashes legitimate potential and a curveball that can be solid. Unfortunately, the pitches don’t work often enough and almost never work at the same time.

As we look ahead to 2017, it’s unlikely the Red Sox will have him repeat Salem for a third time. Instead, they’ll give him the jump to Double-A before deciding what’s next. If he struggles through the first part of the season, I suspect they’ll try him out of the bullpen. I don’t have much confidence it will work, but it’s at least worth a shot. If that fails, too, don’t be surprised if they try to convert Ball back to the position player side of things. Even at the time of the draft, some — including former ESPN draft expert Chris Crawford — thought he was a better hitter than pitcher. After going so long on the mound, I doubt the magic is still there, but there’s nothing to lose with a little experimenting. Either way, both Ball and the Red Sox are hoping he can simply tap into the potential that got him drafted in the top ten all those years ago.

  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
  16. Jalen Beeks
  17. Trey Ball

As always, you can continue voting below.

Poll

Who is the number 18 prospect in the Red Sox farm system?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Shaun Anderson
    (34 votes)
  • 8%
    Yoan Aybar
    (30 votes)
  • 0%
    Gerson Bautista
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    Marc Brakeman
    (11 votes)
  • 3%
    Lorenzo Cedrola
    (13 votes)
  • 1%
    Darwinzon Hernandez
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    Tyler Hill
    (5 votes)
  • 14%
    Kyle Martin
    (52 votes)
  • 3%
    Bryan Mata
    (11 votes)
  • 6%
    Tate Matheny
    (23 votes)
  • 5%
    Stephen Nogosek
    (19 votes)
  • 7%
    Chandler Shepherd
    (26 votes)
  • 4%
    Ben Taylor
    (16 votes)
  • 9%
    Kyri Washington
    (33 votes)
  • 23%
    Luis Ysla
    (85 votes)
364 votes total Vote Now